Now that Not Your Mary Sue is available for preorder, I’ve started posting little teasers about the books – or rather, specifically about my main character, Marcy. I’ve had this planned for sooooo long (this whole publishing thing is a marathon, not a sprint) and I wanted to share some background that might give a little more information about my process.
First, we like images, right? Snappy photos. And I, personally, don’t like seeing the same image over and over and over in marketing, so “photos of my book cover” didn’t feel like the right way to go. You’ll see plenty of it, but … that’s not my current main focus. Except my main focus is words, so … how do we get those into an image?
Enter the letterboard.
There we go: words turned into an image with a specifically-chosen background. It’s short and to the point – the board’s not that big, and I don’t have an unlimited number of each letter, anyway – and hopefully eye-catching. The location of this one will get discussed more later, when we get to Jay, but that’s for later. Right now we’re talking about Marcy, and the first teaser is actually the first thing she says to Jay:
Let’s talk background on this one. Marcy’s a knitter, mostly because I’m a knitter. That’s part of the Almina’s Sister shawl by Lisa Hannes. (Those links takes you to LoveCrafts – it’s also available on Ravelry). The yarn is Gnomespun Eshu in the colorway “Sebastian.” It’s a triangular shawl with cables that, like many of Lisa’s patterns, can be knit with any yarn, at a suitable gauge. She provides percentage information so you know when to move into those final gorgeous cables with your chosen yarn.
There’s not always a specific correlation between the quote and the knit project I chose for the background – I started off with “Okay, which projects are large enough to work for these photos?” – but the second one I’ve shared was specifically chosen:
This one is Marcy thinking to herself instead of speaking out loud, but she’s thinking about Jay. Marcy thinks about Jay a lot. And check out the shawl in this one. It’s the Celtic Birds Wrap by the Munro Sisters 3 (which I don’t think is currently available anywhere other than Ravelry). I used cascade sock yarn in bark for the design and La Bien Aimée merino sport in quail for the background. It’s a fair isle wrap, knit flat, and it’s one of the most intricate projects I’ve ever made. Knitters beware: you have to trap floats on both the RS and the WS, but it’s so worth it, and you’ll have the skill mastered before you’re done.
And the birds fit so neatly around Marcy’s thought, although the birds themselves are neither caged nor captive. Their spacing is serendipitous, but it worked out so perfectly.
If you’re looking to use a letterboard in photos, I’ve got some helpful hints:
- use a frequency counter to figure out how many letters you’ll need to free from the packaging (or if you don’t have enough of a specific letter to make your favorite phrases). I started out writing down a bunch of Jay’s quotes and used the frequency counter to list how many letters I had to cut free to make all of those quotes, and even then I did it in multiple sessions because it’s fiddly and annoying.
- organize your letters in a plastic craft or jewelry case. I used a permanent marker to write the alphabet on the bottom of each square. Mine doesn’t have 26 squares so I doubled-up on the letters, but even doubling-up works just fine. Make sure it’ll stay closed in your bag, especially if you take it to the beach and have to change out phrases when, say, the wind is blowing off Lake Superior at gale-force speed.
- if you’re taking it out somewhere, put the longest phrase on your list on the board first. Then you don’t have to wrestle with spacing out so many letters while sitting on the beach or a bench or a log.
- be kind to your hands! Prying the letters up, especially if your board is new, can hurt your fingernails. If you’ve got a plastic guitar pic or some other tool that’s suited to the job, go ahead and use it. If you go out with four or five phrases, that’s a lot of prying to do.
Soon enough we’ll talk about Jay and the challenges of photographing something that isn’t so static.
Have you used letterboards before? Do you have any other tips you’d like to add?