Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marketing Your Novel

Mix of new release books, most are hardcover or larger 6 X 9 Plus size paperback. Notice the top row of yellow images seem to get lost even though the guy with the amazing abs might grab a women's fiction or romance fan. Third from the top and bottom row are a number of black covers.


Marketing your novel today means even if you are traditionally published by the biggest house, you need to be aware of the arena you are playing/ selling. This post will show you some examples of a couple genre areas in the Barnes and Noble bookstore near where I live and talk about the other places your work will show and how to plan out the best cover design for your work. Today even a traditional publisher might use a formula layout for your cover but here I suggest you go deeper into your market as the visual part of picking the book off the shelf or buying online directs sales. While I was taking my iPhone photographs three readers who were browsing the Young Adult section chatted with me about what compels them to purchase a new book. They all cited, "the cover art" is the most influential part of paying money for an unknown author. 
On this science fiction shelf there is more variety in colors, most images are illustrations or photographs that are photo-shopped to look like gouache or paintings


The trend for publishers seems to be to copy rinse and repeat whatever was the last big seller. The black background with stark single image photograph with perhaps only red highlights still dominates (think Twilight series). Also illustrations with simple bright colors seem to pop in orange, yellow or red.
Mystery titles have larger font and graphic Author names that scream out at the reader, "buy me."
Here is another mystery genre stack of all paperbacks. More than half use red as the predominant color scheme.

A few rules which I would suggest:

Do not use borders; they don’t align well when printed. They can often appear goofy.

Stay away from an all-white background as on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble sites the background is already white and your book will be more difficult to notice.

View the color green that Barnes and Noble uses and the yellow Amazon uses and take these into account as background either complementary or contrasting colors for online purchases.

Author biography notes really need not be on the cover- you will have space on Amazon for a full video of you dancing or illustrating your books. Save the rear cover for endorsements of the book, blurbs that tease a little, a subtitle or two.

It used to be the Title goes first and Author name second. This is a dumb rule. As you can see the point is to scream your name proudly. FONTS fonts fonts are your friends and learn to use one that speaks your language. Font style and placement and size all speak about you and your novel.

I hope you got some headshots when you were young and pretty, or put them inside the book. No one buys a painting of an ugly old man – even if he’s a president or your grandfather.

Top Teen Pics: YA and Young Adult It is necessary to have an attractive girl usually a photograph of her face or romanticized lifestyle.

Teen Fiction (not certain how that differs from YA) ... wait ... I want to put a plug in for Ellen Hopkins who now dominates a whole shelf and two other areas of Barnes and Noble. :)

Biography requires a photograph of the person written about. These images are black and white or sepia as to appear "artistic."
Including one of my recent favorite versions of the black cover, Nick Tosches Me and the Devil really jumps from the Amazon page - see the golden yellow and blue arrow that are Amazon trade colors.
Teen Fiction Covers with variety of photographs. A couple cliches I'm tired of: stay: the back of the girl head cut off, the lady in a gown with no face, and Author with hair over face. The idea is to not be so specific in illustrating what the female lead looks like and have the reader focus on the cover image, but to allow one's imagination to run with their own idea.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Glitter In Your Veins

Haiku  ~ You are Special
"Glitter in your veins ~
everyday joyful in your walk ~
keep the crown on top."
Caroline Gerardo

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Found Soul Hiking

 Haikus, poems, thoughts from hiking yesterday's rejuvenation trail. Saturday I hiked Ice House Canyon and up Mount Baldy over Devil's Backbone by myself. I was feeling "moody" earlier in the week. I know that giving myself a goal, something to look forward to, a challenge and the amazing variety and beauty of Angeles National Forest would clear my head, bones and Soul.

I captured about 80 good photographs yesterday. Posting some of the average ones because, well people seem to borrow and forget to credit...  
I'm spoiled, it isn't difficult to see nature in glory by just walking. I am sharing some of my fun with you, I got back on center.

Abandoned standing ~ hold out icycle words ~ roof  keeps my soul safe.

Hand never let go ~ the belay surely will fail ~ bones crumple to shale.

Across the canyons ~ the haze tells me to hurry ~ before it grows dark.
Spines remind that my boots are only made of fake hemp, plastic laces and rubber tire souls.
I knew the pin oaks wouldn't fail me. They light the sky before the days grow short. It is as if they knew I was on my way to visit. Wishing I owned a red cape and brought a basket.

Old fire damage on fallen trees is more sculptural than natural slides. Just as lightening can make landscape into dazzling energy.

Composite rock flows ~ looks like this boulder enjoyed  ~ water stroking him.
He is a devil ~ a tough dinosaur spine climb  ~ thanks clouds for no snow.
 I brought my ten essentials: a switch blade, rappelling ropes, caribiners, matches and lighter, epipen, phone & camera, sunscreen and hat, compass, water and more water, first aid stuff. I can always find my soul when I'm hiking.

copyright reserved Caroline Gerardo 2012
 Mount Baldy, Angeles National Forest California October 6th

Friday, October 5, 2012


Taking a break from working, usually marching through duties keeps me from running off the railroad tracks, but I keep returning to that funky thing I called “sentimental.” 
 In response, you said, "that can mean many things- ."
"Yes I know. I’m not maudlin but back looking, sometimes with glasses that color courage. "
"Sentimental what?"
Normally I think I can do anything, and instead I today want to write this weak whiny poetry and curl up somewhere and ache. I’m flopping in emotions. Telling you about my experience as a girl was both cathartic and ghost stirring. You are an amazing friend and I am happy that I trust you.
What you shared with me about your life makes me want to create a magical story that heals everything, knowing that is dumb, but plinking away on the keyboard at it anyways. I have a pretty good aim with a 22 at a tiny tuna can from afar.  At this time, I'm braving and  trying to change the universe with one more drop, one last fallen leaf saved with glycerin and painted new.
Needing a hug and want to thank you kindly for listening but going to leave this unsent, unspoken. Fall is my favorite time of year, but Catholic Confession seems to be tugging me down some Roman aqueduct.
Therefore, I’m driving to Claremont to climb up Mount Baldy and doing either Devils’ Backbone and/or the San Antonio Falls Loop by myself late today. The trees are shaking their Fall leaves and I’m sure to get some lovely photographs, and I pray write something brilliant.
My ex-husband is picking up the children for once in a Harvest Moon. I let go that past a long time ago, but God knows in the next life he'll pay.  I’m not telling the kids about me going overnight with just a day pack and sleep roll. They get weird about me hiking by myself. I stand tall at five foot one, crossing my fingers knowing the doing makes me feel invincible. Call out the reinforcements if I lose my way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Make fog into Sun

This morning started ~ clouds covering my lead heart
~ sun comes in a text.


Caroline Gerardo haiku
© copyright all rights reserved
photographs of highway 5 south towards San Diego and sun plants by C. G.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

The Last Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
Father shows the way to Rio Grande patch of streams.
As a couple, they returned building a nest of dreams.
Clyde’s a brown flycatcher born in the spring.
“Rritz bew,” Clyde chants flicking his tail
wandering from the cupped nest to sing.
The sortilege vibrations of the river fail.
A mud headed cowbird snatches his siblings.
Ritz bew
Ritz bew
In a salt cedar, he summons his mother, “pip pip pip.”
She responds, “Pip Pip Pip.”
“When willows disappear, the wind tips.”
“Days grow short, prepare for a southern trip.”
“Let’s stay here for the winter and wait.”
“No, the snow would certain our fate.”
“You might be the last brown peewee.”
“Another will fall in love, it is easy-”
Clyde scratches his buff back in fear.
“No son, fly south and find your own mate.”
“A vermilion coated crooner will appear-”
Clyde lets go clinging to his branch state.
He dives for a mosquito above the clear.
“Just plain sooty flycatcher.” She says too late.
At sunrise Clyde sings to his Mother, “pip pip pip.”
There is no response, no familiar sail.
“Dear, you may be the last brown tip.”
Her wisdom never seems to fail.
On a glass wall is an image of father’s tail.
Clyde’s reflection flicks feathers for a meal.
The evening’s chill looms a lonely feel.
He calls again, “pip pip pip.”
No sound in the thicket join his karaoke solos
Lift makes him brave across favorable echoes
Across Chihuahua following a night star
polarized illuminated rivers that are far.
Resting under a deciduous thicket now bare,
a House Finch named Rosy shoos him with a scare,
“You rude uninvited unexpected un-excellent song…”
Rosy pokes him with her bill,
“get out get out before some monster comes along…”
“May I rest a minute? I am not begging for you to share.”
“Better not, better go, better you will…”
“Ritz bew.”
“Ritz bew.”
Rosy brushes Clyde out of her winter stay with mace.
Clyde passes rocky ledges, finding a sheltered place.
Far riparian woodland air on the Clyde’s cape of his feathers
Moon touches him with a crescent of turmeric upon his face.
In morning, without a mark, he sneezes flying through desert dusts.
Eves are lonely, but there are bugs to hawk near the aqueduct.
“Ritz bew.”
“Ritz bew.”
Days pass, time to return to the lake, boulders, and river he trusts.
The trip north is faster, he follows in the row behind a flock of geese.
Ignore the rare flycatcher, he makes it home to reconstruct.
When landmarks show the Kern River, Clyde knows he is at peace.
There his true love sits in golden cedar called a pest,
Yellow honeysuckle dust, she has upon her throat a crest.
Courtship rubs their beaks to form the shape of a heart.
Magic flies safely in the afternoon they never part.
They build a cup nest in a wild rose.
Taking turns with the eggs, no robber baron shows.
“Ritz bew.”
“Ritz bew.”
Stolen marked as tattoos burned on their faces
Fever ghost without a glass of water graces
A wet suit airing in the rain, flowing sand bars.
Don’t dump here, it flows to the stars.
The last southwestern willow flycatcher lives on a glass wall.
Mournful he waits for a mosquito singing his final call.
The memory of cottonwoods on the Rio Grande
“Ritz bew.”
Ritz bew.”
Clappers, silence
I am performing this work in progress today at the SW Chula Vista Library Hispanic Literacy Festival today at 1:30 open to the public, free, please arrive early to practice with bird whistles or wind instruments that I will supply. Children, teens, adults all welcome for the fun. This poem is about a bird who is endangered only 80 remain. In 2008 he decided to grace my backyard in southern Orange County (not an area they were known to exist) this set in motion a series of connected events. Bird watchers came to stay in my yard, I learned he has no mate and the only place these birds nest are known to live is where my children's ancestors first settled in California near Kernville. My children are 9th generation Californian's and the Kern River Preserve in on land that their first Great- great Grandfather came as a trapper then was given the land from the King of Spain which he passed down originally as a cattle then dairy farm. The farm is gone and so are the thousands of this little songbird.  This is a work in progress performed live today. A video game of this bird is in progress. Thank You,
Caroline Gerardo ( Barbeau )

Thursday, September 13, 2012

LITERARY EVENT Southwestern Chula Vista

SOUTH WESTern CHULA VISTA LIBRARY 389 Orange Avenue, and telephone number is 619-585-5755 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 15th

Take the 805 Freeway from either direction (north or south) and take the Olympic Parkway/Orange Avenue exit. Go west on Orange Avenue for about 2 or 3 miles. There's a huge DIP at one of the intersections with a stoplight, so watch out for it. The library will be on the left, with a very Santa Fe color scheme.

Thank you to Joy Whatley, the SouthWestern Chula Vista Branch librarian
Please note I have taken the liberty with the address usually referred to as  SW


I am speaking on a panel about contemporary poetry. We should be lively and ready for your questions. This is not a dead poet’s society.

I also will be reading from my book, The Lucky Boy


   I am looking for audience members who are willing to be part of my band to perform a work that I have not yet published and will be the first time heard.  No musical ability required. I will be providing recorders, whistles and sound makers for my band members to partake.

The Last Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Kern River Reserve California
To give you a background, I will publish the written piece here Friday night.  It is a work in progress. The story is about an endangered bird. The particular bird came to my backyard first in 2009. I took a couple photographs of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher in my yard and posted them. This brought on a chain of events that is spoken about in the poem.

Birdwatchers contacted me and ended up staying in my yard to document that the lone bird stayed in Orange County, as there are thought to be only eighty of this particular type of bird remaining.

I learned that the number one place they inhabit is nearby Kernville, California a place where my children’s great grandparents first lived. My children are ninth generation Californians. This connectivity raised my interest in visiting the private reserve where these birds settle and to discover how events, places and our time can become part of something bigger than our self. It is also about conservation. Not only conserving our ecology but appreciating every precious moment on this earth.
 A video is in progress with a game for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and I hope you will enjoy the debut of this poem.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Shamed Zen Gardener

I feel you are ashamed of me. 

Uniform man at the gate knew my name this morning.
Not Ms. Gerardo by my license.

“Good morning C. G. The boss told us to valet your car. They’re in the executive conference room.”

Shuffled into a golf cart, I fumble with my laptop case. Where are my reading glasses and the Burt’s Bee’s lipstick for chapped lips, in case they ask me to read again? I’m not wearing a suit. Up at 3:15 AM wearing a knit dress with a rose print, its silly and out of fashion. No nylons, no layer of makeup; only creative ideas.

Thinking about your message. I put it out of my mind, bury my head under my zen garden. Mountains are weak to water so the monks tend stone to make her sure.

I feel you are ashamed of me. 

Beach Unavailable for the Umpteenth Weekend.

Kim, the assistant with an MFA from USC greets with enthusiasm.

“I got the Major Dickason’s café au lait, as you like.”

“Thank you, wonderful-”

Its warm in my hands as protection, familiar dust in the pillows on my bed, filled with feather biscuits of earth.

“I read your poem in Flannery O’Conner Review, or was it Atlantic? The one: coffee and grounds composting, it was beautiful.”

I don’t correct her about the magazine, “Thanks for reading my work.”

“We all did.”

I smile with my lips closed because my teeth appear horsey.  The steam from the liquid in a studio cup meditates the meaning of life in my sinus. Her Anthropologie dress is one that I could not afford for my daughter and the wide smile the orthodontist failed to deliver.

“You pull off the Yoana Barashi dress with class.”

She giggles, “My roommate said the honeycomb gold was too loud.”

“You’re in a major studio and sound lot, you need to be noticed.”
She nods.

“Can you help me?”

“Anything C. G.” She pushes her bangs back eager to please.

“Is the band in there? Who makes decisions and why did they bring me to the executive offices?”

“Band’s waiting in another conference room they want you. The bosses watched video of you playing word games and reciting haiku, ghazal, luc-bat to any topic the boys threw at you.  Your drawing in Dry Erase on the glass enclosures mapping sounds pushed the band to write, not just your piece, but two other songs in one recording.”

“Was that bad?”

“Scares the f out of-”

She stops when the door opens, then whispers: “They are ready for you now. The Hawaiian shirts are the CEO and writer.”

Rectangle table created with one thick sheet of glass. Glass is silica heated in liquid suspension. It is turquoise on the edges like a cresting wave. The suits are lined on the right wall. Their elbows are permeating the watery surface, buried in sand. Two Tommy Bahamas shirts are at the head with one empty swivel chair.

A lingering feeling washes over me. I ought to have swum out past the kelp bed before sunrise today. The caress of heavy humidity wears on the spare traffic outside your window when we made love. Then rest open to the waves. Your voice is a blanket of freshly raked baby powder saying the tide will come caressing my feet. I am safe exhaling the ions of sea foam. Are you buried under the sand?

“Please take a seat.”

The suits inquire about agency and representation. Come ’on a poet cannot afford such luxury.

“But you had an agent.”

“Yes a famous one, we are friends now.”

“We know. He told you to stop using your talent for the sound- meaning- root- soul of words because poetry is wasted soup and the masses don't care for bouillabaisse.”

“He wanted me to only write long form-”

“Dam glad you didn’t listen. He says you’re the most creative genius he’s come across. Why are you not in the music business?”

Text in normal language.”
My kids say speak English. No Punjabi Spanish and Latin salads, I wish they were proud of me. 
I feel you are ashamed of me. 

Muso Kokushi told me to continue creating ink landscape paintings in the garden. Tending the earth is my form of prayer; this is why my flowers and vegetables do so well. I don’t audibly speak His name and He watches my bent over back.

Contract ready, they are pleased with the word brain. I flip to page thirty-four; near the end there are dollar amounts. Then I ask for a note pad.

“A yellow legal pad,” I have my moleskin in my bag. Surely a suit has access to paper.

“Take my pen.”

“Do you want a Dry Erase?”

My lips offer an abstract Mona Lisa. They speak over each other. I take a few notes and draw a diagram of interaction, physics in black ink. On a clean sheet I write: I will have my attorneys review your contracts. You have my word. I offer first right of refusal on my poetry and will cooperate with musicians. I don't write a dollar amount.  I sign it. The hand embroidered black Maui shirt smiles.

“We have a deal,” His hand reaches across the river table. I stand, which makes them all uncomfortable to rise and I hug Maui shirt.

The suits mumble, “We can’t let her work in the studio without a release-”

Maui shirt answers. “You heard the woman. I’d marry this girl if she’d have me.”

The taste of you saying you’re a turtle in the mud, and the part about not being a good mate is rough on my tongue.  It makes me chuckle because I’ve pet desert tortoise for now 29 years. He and I understand one another better than rhyme or rhythm. Building a trench or wall will not change his nature, and he expects me to rake the ashes.

I wish you were proud of me 
From my iPhone waiting for the band to meet me in the studio
To Paul McCarthy Mission Viejo Newport Beach Eclipse Messenger 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ry Cooder Jacuzzi

Miss the darkroom?
Yellow Kodak boxes with a danger smell,
now bankrupt have a rosy odorant.
Will you ever edit live again?
I sent haikus.
 Your text response:
“they make no sense.”
Old notes played from the jacuzzi is
 a naked soul gently singing in grisaille.
Digital point click ready to eat.
Miss the darkroom?
and Ry Cooder live before mp3. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ammie Palooza

My Mother is Eighty.
Quite a feat, Dr. Annmarie Gerardo, I am proud of you.

Today is my mother’s 80th Birthday and we are having what was originally referred to as the Royal Wedding, but now has evolved into Ammie Palooza. My mother uses the nick name that my eldest child named her some nineteen years ago (she prefers Ammie a derivative of her name Annmarie to Grandmother). I’m not saying my mother is vain, she is different after her major stroke this past December. I am posting the process this morning getting the flowers ready for the tables as a fun break from serious writing.

My younger sister and I used flowers from my yard and we went to the Orange County Wholesale Flower Mart to purchase the spider mums, blue iris and some raffia. The total cost for eight arrangements $ 52.00
1.       Clean vases with vinegar and shine them ( this was my son Carson’s job).
2.       Turn on music
3.       Place marbles, or fish tank pebbles in the bottoms of the vases
4.       Trim Hydrangea and Canna leaves which frame the inside of the vases
5.       Tie a knot in raffia tight at ¾ height of vase, push down and create a simple bow and trim uneven, push the raffia bow back up
6.       Add cold water ¾ full to all vases
7.       Measure the flowers to have 80% of the trimmed same size to reach a few inches above the vases, discarding all leaves that will be in the water, trim any ugly leaves or pedals
8.       Cut 10% one inch longer and the other 10% two inches longer
9.       Arrange one type of flower in each vase at a time
10.   Add minimal greenery at end
11.   Buckets for transportation lined with old towels and the plastic wrap
12.   Deliver finished arrangements to the site
I will load some pictures of the flowers on the tables after tonight’s party

They aren't finished here on the garage floor, but almost there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Honey's Days Under a Canopy of Sunflowers

I finally heard back from the Vet about Honey our Golden Retriever. She will be fifteen tomorrow, she has been healthy, loving, fast, funny and wonderful until this past July. Her ear infections won’t cure, the pads of her feet seem to bother her so much that she stopped taking her swim in the pool and won’t go in the ocean excepting for the very soft foamy waves. This is a dog that swam with the surfers and rode waves with us until we called her to stop. The last two days she doesn’t want to eat or move around.

Carson had a Lacrosse camp at Whittier College all day in the heat, and I couldn’t take her into 102 degree temperature so I had a couple different people check on her at home. She sun bathed in the morning and enjoyed her routine of watching the hummingbirds and dragonflies hover over the pool but come afternoon she didn’t go into her favorite spot among the Colossal sunflowers. Honey didn’t move all day from the kitchen floor where my laptop is and where she keeps me company to write.

I felt this boulder in my chest calling to check on her, I redialed the Vet’s exchange in hopes he would call in some prescription. Last visit he spoke of quality of life. I’m bringing her in tomorrow, going to ask for pain medicine, something to perk her appetite and a miracle. Are you connected with your pets? I am closer with my children, but our dogs offer unconditional love and joy. If you ever knew or have a Golden Retriever, you know what a funny breed they are. They talk and make noises but are terrible watch dogs. They are afraid of lightening and all they want is to be a nanny to your children and make certain everyone is comforted.

Honey knew when I was sick with chemotherapy, she saw us survive the fire, and she is still diligent in watching for bunnies who steal my flowers and produce. She no longer chases them but they are afraid of the big amber colored dog who once guarded her garden.

I’m home now after a fun day at Carson’s Lacrosse Camp, gave her a piece of cheese with her pills. Then an extra pieces of Trader Joe’s sliced turkey because I know it is yummy. She shook her head and smiled that big dog one but her eyes are cloudy.

My son Carson said tonight, “Mom, you say that when you are ready to die, you will swim out in the ocean to some far away buoy to avoid being a burden--”

I stop him mid-sentence, “No, as much as Honey loves the ocean, Green River or the lake she would panic and be afraid. I don’t ever want any of you to be afraid.”

He nods, I feel a tear in my eye, and blot it off with my shirt. He’s sixteen and life and death are fast as the wings of a dragonfly. I put my hand on Honey’s head so she won’t have to get up to be with us for a group hug. Then we get down on the floor and thank her for being a beautiful girl. Her tail still has some thump in it.

Sunflowers the size of a basketball player
I think this is what Honey sees when she sleeps under the sunflowers, a big happy face full of seeds of promise for next year.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Corn Lily Cure

Surprised by saffron stems,
showing on my stoop with a smile.
In hands of a handsome devil,
really they're lilies,
Do you know where this story begins or ends?
I’ll backtrack for you.
I wrote a text message haiku:
Wild lilies breathe ~ in Yosemite for you ~ open your hands wide.
Flowers John Muir carefully documented,
the full measure of the mountain runs your lungs;
but I didn’t that send that one,
the stamens felt sappy,
with staining crumbs.
Delete delete.
Silent, death destructiion disaster of a heart.
No-one wants to hear about chemotherapy.
Delete delete.
I sent something else:
Crane Flat corn lilies ~ burn upon my memory ~ enjoy your sweet XXXX.
(Keep secrets locked in a jewelry box made by some child in China)
Back track more:
A girl walked through those sequoias in Crane Flat. A funny teen with a sketch book alone drawing flowers and scribbling journal notes in the woods. A watercolor of those corn lilies from this trip is  in my Mother’s downstairs bath. I read that the Cyclopamine in corn lilies once thought to be so poisonous to humans and livestock, actually has life-saving properties. Think of the ranchers who had this scourge pulled and burned at the stake. The corn lily native plant is now being used in advanced cancer trials. The healing aspect of miracles are around us in everyday dandelions you fail to see in the cracks of concrete.

Go fast forward and dance with your shoulders in a figure eight:
If you remove the stamens the lilies last longer, the gold dust won’t mark you like some penance on Ash Wednesday.
"For dust you are, and to dust you shall return."
Delete delete.
Perhaps it is better not explaining my haiku or saving the plate of saffron pollen as some science experiment.
Allow me to dye your gown the color of the sun.