POINT­ERS ON PUB­LISH­ING

Jamaica Gleaner - - ARTS&EDUCATION - Corine La Font Con­trib­u­tor

BOCAS LIT Fest is one of the ma­jor lit­er­ary events hap­pen­ing in Trinidad from Novem­ber 12-13, in south Trinidad on San Fer­nando Hill. The larger and main event is nor­mally held in Port-of-Spain in April. I missed at­tend­ing the April event and I am think­ing of at­tend­ing this one, es­pe­cially since I am a south girl and I need to rep­re­sent. Plus it will give me the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand the pub­lish­ing and writ­ing land­scape in Trinidad and the chal­lenges au­thors and writ­ers face, although I think it is safe to say that the chal­lenges are the same across the re­gion. It may come in dif­fer­ent shapes, sizes, and colours, but the is­sues are the same.

One of those chal­lenges is what I am ad­dress­ing to­day in this ar­ti­cle, and it is hoped that after read­ing this, you will take the time to pon­der and make the nec­es­sary changes in your cur­rent or up­com­ing books.

1. THE TI­TLE

The ti­tle is one of the very first things that will at­tract your au­di­ence. As I men­tion au­di­ence, the ti­tle needs to use the lan­guage spo­ken by your au­di­ence, so when choos­ing words for the ti­tle, keep in mind the words and lan­guage com­mon to your tar­get mar­ket. In ad­di­tion, the ti­tle speaks to, or should hint at, what the book is or may be about. Yes, the ti­tle can have some mys­tery for fic­tion books but for non-fic­tion, it is best to get straight to the point in cre­at­ing a ti­tle for your book. Don’t be vague and don’t leave room for as­sump­tions.

The ti­tle must also be com­pelling, so strong ad­jec­tives or ac­tion words are best, and if it is meant for a cer­tain age or gen­der, then in­di­cate this or use a sub­ti­tle to as­sist in dis­till­ing the ti­tle some more.

Test your ti­tle by ask­ing a few friends and the gen­eral pub­lic what comes to mind when they hear your pro­posed ti­tle. This will give you good feed­back on whether you are on the right path to rep­re­sent­ing the con­tent of your book. Plus, you have the added bonus of know­ing if the per­sons you test it on would be in­ter­ested in such a book. Take their names and con­tact in­for­ma­tion and of­fer them a free copy when the book is pub­lished and ask for a re­view. This will be a great start to build­ing re­la­tion­ships and your au­di­ence.

2. COLOURS AND DE­SIGN

This is just as im­por­tant as the ti­tles but what this ac­tu­ally does is sup­port the ti­tle. Colours and de­sign cre­ate mood and af­fects emo­tions. Most per­sons make pur­chases based on emo­tions. So de­pend­ing on the type of book and con­tent, get a pro­fes­sional de­signer to work on the de­sign that will en­hance the ti­tle and cre­ate the mood that will in­flu­ence buy­ing. Colours and de­sign must also be at­trac­tive and clean, not busy.

Peo­ple’s minds are al­ready busy with a lot of clut­ter in ev­ery­day life, so a busy de­sign wouldn’t catch their at­ten­tion. Clean lines, ap­pro­pri­ate fonts and size for text, se­lec­tive colours, and ap­pro­pri­ate im­ages are the best way to go. Re­mem­ber the spine in all this as it is only the spine that will be seen on the shelf, and if the spine isn’t stand­ing out enough, it will get lost among the many other books that com­pete for at­ten­tion.

3. THE CON­TENT

Great ti­tle, ap­peal­ing colours, and at­trac­tive de­sign with a lack in con­tent is a no-no. Many per­sons have bought books, like I said, based on the ex­te­rior and re­gret­ted it be­cause the con­tent did not match what they saw on the out­side. As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. Well that can work both ways, right? Well in this case, I am re­fer­ring to a book that didn’t live up to all it said or pro­jected on the cover.

Spend the time to work on your ma­te­rial. Know your au­di­ence and give them what they need. Don’t be in a hurry to get the book pub­lished at the ex­pense of get­ting bad re­views and tes­ti­mo­ni­als just to make a quick buck or to call your­self an au­thor. The rep­u­ta­tion you an­tic­i­pated won’t last, and it will take you time to do dam­age con­trol to get over the ‘ole talk’ and build back a good rep­u­ta­tion. Why go through all that? Just write and pro­duce a man­u­script that would do jus­tice to the topic, as well as your au­di­ence, and make you proud to say it’s yours. Do it well and do it right the first time. Get pro­fes­sional edit­ing done. Please do not do it your­self. You can­not edit your own book and it is not rec­om­mended. You can try to save some money, but it will cost you in the end.

Those are the three top ar­eas, in my opin­ion, that you need to fo­cus on to make a good book. Any­thing else is bells and whis­tles and while they may be shiny ob­jects to your au­di­ence, the read­ing pub­lic is quite in­tel­li­gent and in­formed these days and dis­crim­i­nat­ing in what it con­sumes and spend, money on. So fol­low the steps above and make the pub­lic’s pur­chase, and more so, its in­vest­ment in your work and them worth their while.

I IT WAS a night un­der the stars at the Ho­tel Four Sea­sons on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 28, when Yaun­deen Wright launched her sec­ond an­thol­ogy called Teach­ers Are Hu­man Too.

Close friends and fam­ily of the Ja­maica-born poet were gath­ered to­gether to show her their full sup­port. While she now lives in the United King­dom, it was im­por­tant that she launch her work at home in Ja­maica, which in­flu­ences her writ­ing. Mas­ter of cer­e­monies Chris’N Cole­man got the ball rolling and kept the pro­gramme run­ning smoothly. It started with prayer, stay­ing true to Wright’s strong Chris­tian back­ground.

Guests were then en­ter­tained by San-Jal Richards, who per­formed Ge­net­ics poem I Will Wait for You, and then there was a duet by Chanique McLeod and Cleon Bar­rett.

For­mer col­league and teacher at Wolmer’s High School for Girls Ka­vian Kennedy of­fi­cially launched the book with a lovely back­ground on Wright while giv­ing the au­di­ence a touch of her po­ems.

“As her friend, I came to know, ex­pe­ri­en­tially, that she was not just the pro­fes­sional who would show up for work and be good at it, but that she was a whole per­son who had dif­fer­ent di­men­sions. This is ex­actly what Teach­ers Are Hu­man Too is about,” Kennedy told the au­di­ence.

He high­lighted how the an­thol­ogy was ‘Wright’ through and through. “(She) is an un­ortho­dox kind of writer. She is too blunt, straight­for­ward, and trans­par­ent to write about any­thing fic­ti­tious. She is not the kind of writer to di­vorce her­self from her work,” he added.

Kennedy noted that with this book, all are en­cour­aged to cel­e­brate them­selves out­side of the work­place, and Wright elo­quently showed us how.

Her an­thol­ogy is bro­ken up into four sec­tions ti­tled Teach­ers Are Hu­man Too, On Be­com­ing a Writer, Be­tween the Cleav­age of Re­li­gios­ity and Eroti­cism, and Im­memo­rial. Wright gave us a taste of each sec­tion, with her poem Cun­nilin­gus be­ing a hit among the au­di­ence.

Wright then do­nated copies to the Na­tional Li­brary, and then it was time for sign­ing as guests hur­riedly pur­chased their per­sonal copies as well as a few of her pre­vi­ous book, Beau­ti­ful Ebony, for her to sign while grab­bing cock­tails. ‘Teach­ers Are Hu­man Too’ book launch on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 28, 2016 at the Ho­tel Four Sea­sons.

She is too blunt, straight­for­ward, and trans­par­ent to write about any­thing fic­ti­tious. She is not the kind of writer to di­vorce her­self from her work.

PA­TRICK PLANTER/ PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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