Earthly Charms founder Su Kopil

- by Dara Girard

Tell us a little about yourself and your company Earthly Charms. What’s the story behind the name?

I’m a lifelong avid reader. I grew up in libraries. My first job was in a library. And I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading. Photography and graphic design both came later but also morphed out of my love of story which leads me to how Earthly Charms got its name. A friend and I, author Amanda McIntyre, started out as critique partners. Then one day we got the idea to write a paranormal romance which includes a magic shop.

Amanda, clever girl, came up with the name Earthly Charms. I loved it so much; it just begged to be used. So with Amanda’s permission, Earthly Charms was born back in 1999. Sorry to say the story never saw the light of day but I’m happy to say the business has been a success thanks to some wonderful authors.

eBook cover design

Your company produces promotional packages for authors, including advertising, bookmarks and even eBook covers. Please tell us more about that.


When the business first opened, I was actually making a lot of the products by hand. On the plus side, it allowed me to offer some unique products, on the minus side, it meant hours and hours of tedious work. Eventually, I got more involved with promotional supply companies and outside printers so that I could concentrate more on design creation. And it’s been wonderful.

I love to take clients’ stories and try to bring them to life in some small way in the design of their promotional products be it bookmarks, ads, postcards, door hangers, etc.

And at the request of a client, I’ve now expanded into cover design. I’ve been studying book covers my whole life so designing them was a natural fit. I like to read a synopsis of the book so I can really get a feel for the story and then I’ll try to bring a piece of that story to life in the cover design. For me, it’s all about creating some type of emotion that will move the reader into buying the book.

Your company offers many choices for promotional material. What are the three (3) most popular items with readers?

It can fluctuate over the years though bookmarks have always been a mainstay and continue to be my bestseller. Postcards are still very popular also except authors don’t just use them for mailings any more. We’ve used them as recipe cards, collector cards, social media cards…the options are endless.

Also very big right now are trading cards, particularly for romance authors. This is where you make a card up for each of the main characters in your book or series using stock photos representing the character and including stats about them or quotes directly from the book. I’m told readers love to collect them.

bookmark

Although you’re a graphic designer, authors can submit their own designs to you. What should they think about when creating them?

Yes, authors can definitely submit their own design though they have to be in print ready format. You can find the guidelines for that at the bottom of each product page on the website. What they should think about will depend on what they are designing.

Though some general guidelines are to make sure their fonts are readable. Don’t use too many different style fonts in the same design. Anything over three and it gets a bit busy. Same goes with trying to add too many effects, like shadows, bevels, colors, etc. Keep in mind that simpler is almost always better. Of course, that said, just as in writing, rules can be broken if you know why you’re breaking them.

labels

What are common mistakes clients make when working with you?

I don’t really think there are any mistakes rather a lack of info. For instance, when submitting their own designs, authors need to know to add a bleed, convert to CMYK mode, etc. Something I see a lot is a lack of understanding of file size and resolution. Images that work for the web (low resolution) will not translate to print which requires a high resolution.

So if a client tells me to grab their author photo or book covers off of their website, I can’t do that. The file sizes are too small. They would have to be enlarged so much that the printed product would be blurry and unprofessional. So my advice would be to always ask for high resolution files from your publisher, photographer, or web designer if you plan on using that web header as a bookmark.

What do you love most about your job?

postcard

I love, love, love working with authors and helping in some small way in getting their stories out in front of readers. Ninety-nine percent of the authors I work with, from bestsellers to debut authors, are just incredibly nice people.

What should an author look for when selecting a graphic designer?

I think the most important part is finding someone they can communicate with, someone they trust, and someone whose design style appeals to them. Check out a gallery of their designs, read testimonials, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

eBook cover design

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to say thanks, Dara and Novelist Inc., for this opportunity and for the great questions. If anyone would like to see a gallery of my work they can visit: http://earthlycharms.zenfolio.com/

I also post sales and designs at my blog: http://earthlycharms.wordpress.com/ or follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/EarthlyCharms and, of course, you can see all the products and read testimonials at: http://www.earthlycharms.com/.

And as a special thanks I’d like to offer one of your readers a free design of their choice!

Thanks, Su. I’ll select a random commenter. So readers, speak up.

36 comments

  1. Great post, with lots of insights into the mysterious world of marketing books!

  2. Great post. Beautiful designs. Such nice compositions. I really enjoyed looking at all of the designer’s work.

  3. Su! I didn’t even know you were doing covers now! Congrats!

  4. Marta, glad you enjoyed it.

    PG, thanks so much for checking out the gallery and your kind words.

    Alyssa, hi! Yes, I just started the covers in the last few months or so and am loving it!

  5. So glad to see you here, Su! Earthly Charms is my favorite place, and I’ve absolutely loved working with you.

    Thrilled that you’ve branched out into covers, too…keep on racking up the successes!

  6. Aww, thanks so much Christine. I really appreciate it.

  7. Very informative, Su. Your covers and products look great!

  8. Thanks PJ.

  9. I have worked with Su on all sorts of items to promote my books, and she is absolutely wonderful! Her design work is sophisticated and eye-catching. I’ll give her some copy and a couple of vague ideas, and she will come up with a brilliant design that goes above and beyond anything I could have dreamed up myself. She’s the best! (And she’s not paying me a penny to say all of this. LOL!)

  10. Had the opportunity to work with Su when she designed my book cover. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend her to anyone.

  11. As a debut author, I’m learning how much there is to learn. I’m so glad there’s sites like Earthly Charms to help! Thanks for the tips.

  12. Nancy, thank you so much…hmmm…maybe I should pay you. LOL

    Janine, I loved working on your cover. It’s still one of my favorites.

    Lynn, congrats on your first book!

  13. Great tips, Su! You have always done a fantastic job!

  14. Great interview, Dara. Like all authors, I’m always looking for someone who can do “across the board” stuff – covers, bookmarks (love ‘em) and other promo stuff. I’ve bookmarked Su’s site.

  15. LOVE your covers! Really lovely use of color. I’d love to have a cover done by you!

  16. Dara-

    I like the pointers you suggested like asking for high resolution files from the photographer or publishers. I am about to embark on the journey of trying to publish my manuscript and so a designers perspective is just what I needed. Thanks again.

    PS. Not to be a stickler about anything, but you might want to have the Novelists Inc. blog person take another look at the answer to their question: “What do you love most about your job?” there is something missing from last sentence, a word or two. It doesn’t make sense…”I just incredibly nice people.”???

  17. Awesome interview! Love your work. I’ve learned of you years ago from a NY best selling author and other authors.

  18. Love the cover designs you’ve provided. Beautiful!

  19. Joyce, Hi. Thanks for the kind words.

    Fran, thanks for bookmarking.

    Jeffe, thanks, maybe you’ll win the drawing.

    Lori, thank for catching that type…it should read “Ninety-nine percent of the authors I work with, from bestsellers to debut authors, are incredibly nice people.”

    Martha, thanks so much.

    Becky, so glad you like the covers.

  20. I just wanted to mention that Su designed my ads for RTBookReviews & RWR. The ads were gorgeous, and she was a dream to work with. :)

    Margaret

  21. Hi Su,
    This is such a timely blog. I was browsing your website a couple of days ago, trying to decide on some promotional items for book signings this summer. I’m leaning toward bookmarks and am glad to know they’re still popular.
    Carolynn

  22. I’d forgotten about trading cards – would love to do some of those!

  23. Interesting post! I tried doing my own bookmarks last summer. I thought I was pretty photshop literate… but boy did I make some mistakes. :) Next time, I’m using a pro.

  24. Color me impressed with your cover art. Love, love, love your sense of design and your use of color. Thanks for your post, Su. Your enthusiam shines through every word. So does your love for authors <3

  25. Margaret, Hi! Thanks for popping in. Your ads are always fun to do because you have such great covers!

    Carolynn, thanks for visiting the website. Feel free to email me if you ever have questions on anything.

    Tracy, trading cards have really taken off. They work particularly well with romance novels.

    Maureen, like anything else there’s a learning curve. If you like designing and have time keep at it. I’ve got a few authors who design their own bookmarks and come to me for printing.

    Deni, you made my day. Thanks so much!

  26. Thanks for the great comments everyone! I’ll select a winner by 8PM EST today.

    Also, I replaced the “I” with “are” in Su’s comment, so her great response now makes sense. Thanks Lorri.

  27. BTW I had no idea you were a writer as well. LOve it!! And I did not know you did ebook covers. Very good to know. They are BEAUTIFUL> Do you do web design too?

  28. Mart, I don’t design websites…except for my own. Though I do design headers, banners and web ads. Thanks on the covers. :)

  29. Thanks again for everything, Dara.

  30. Mart sent our critique group this way, and WOW, what a lot of great information! Thank you!

  31. Drum roll please!! I drew a name and…Martha Ramirez is the winner! Congratulations:)

  32. Congratulations Martha! I will email you privately.

  33. Hi Su! I’ve enjoyed some of your products over the years, but I never realized what a talented designer you are, of book covers! I know I LOVED the bookmarks you made for me awhile back, but I would be thrilled to have you design my next book cover. I’m really impressed with your gallery. (And sorry I missed the giveaway.)
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs,

    Linore

  34. Thanks so much, Linore. I appreciate your stopping by and you know where to find me. :))

  35. What an awesome interview! Su is such a talented and awesome person!

  36. I tried designing my own cover and was told it wasn’t good enough. So am checking out a professional.

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