- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.