Tag: do-it-yourself

The Announcements: Part Two

Years ago, I went through a phase where I made every card I sent out. Again, it was my sister who introduced me to this phenomenal way to exploit my creativity – and my husband’s pocketbook.

But, as with the entire idea of scrapbooking the memory book for my son’s wedding, I chained myself to the announcement-making boat.

My future daughter stopped by at regular intervals to show me the ideas she had for her wedding invitations. They were amazing. But complex.

As I admired the card stock she’d purchased for the project, she talked about the design.

“I’d really like to emboss this flap,” she said (or something similarly benign), “but I don’t know anything about that.”

“Oh, I used to stamp and emboss all the time.”

Apparently, that means I’m qualified to help her invitations look professional by showing her the proper method of embossing. Of course, I volunteered to show her how to do it, help her even.

And then she showed up with this enormous stamp. And reminded me that she had a list of 166 names, so she was making 175 invitations – to be safe.

Before the Embossing

I wouldn’t need a meme like I’ve used with this post if making these wedding invitations was a simple three-step process.

I probably wouldn’t even share such a dire warning to all my readers if it was a five-step process.

Before I became involved in the stamping and embossing part of this project, this is what the bride had already done:

  1. Cut the 12×12 sheets into the correct dimensions
  2. Scored them in three places for easy folding
  3. Folded them along the lines
  4. Glued down the edges of the pocket for the RSVP card and envelope
  5. Cut the purple paper into two different length strips
  6. Punched the shorter strips with the snowflake/swirl design
  7. Glued the short purple strip onto the top of the pocket

Remember what I said about the number of steps in a reasonable invitation-making process?

The bride's mother still smiling while helping with the invitations
The bride’s mother still smiling while helping with the invitations

Fortunately, the company she ordered her silver paper from (yes, she has tri-colored invitations) cut it into the size she needed for the inside of her invitation.

The Embossing Extended

She hauled a cardboard box into the dining room. It held a case of copy paper in its former life.

Out came the paper cutter, two brown-wrapped parcels of card stock, a heat gun, bottles of tacky glue, three small snowflake stamps, a silver stamp pad and the large stamp for the outer flap of the invitations.

Earlier, she’d bought a plastic embosser. It made an indentation in the paper.

It was too short for the invitations. Plus, those little grooves would have been hard-pressed (literally as well as metaphorically) to make a dent in the heavy card stock anyway.

The little guy was the perfect size for the RSVP return envelope flaps. And a job was created for the groom. Not like he’d be using the rolling pin for anything else – ever.

We stamped a flap with the silver ink. It looked okay. Now, I sprikled on the silver foil embossing powder, tapped the excess powder onto paper and aimed the heat gun at the snowflake design on the aquamarine card stock.

Presto-chango! If you’ve never watched this process, I highly recommend it. It’s the closest thing to magic that an average person will ever see outside of a movie theater.

Yes, the embossing was perfect. Time to do this.

But wait! The silver stamp pad wasn’t very efficient for inking up the large stamp. And since we were embossing those flaps, clear ink would be better.

So off they went to the craft store. She came back with a bottle of ink with a sponge so she could just rub it on the stamp. It worked perfectly.

Four hours later, all 175 cards were beautifully embossed.

Now to stamp the inner page with the three different snowflakes. I did this while she cut more purple strips to glue onto the inner pocket.

Little did we know, the ink wouldn’t dry on that special paper she had. She rubbed off an edge of the snowflake while putting the pocket in place. Now what?

You guessed it! All of these needed embossing. That’s three snowflakes – small, medium and large – on the inside of 175 invitations.

And she thought we wouldn’t use all the embossing powder.

Stuff and Stamp

Actually, the correct order is stamp and stuff.

Aren’t you glad postage stamps are self-stick? I sure am. I remember licking the stamps for my wedding invites. There may have been less than 100 of those, but my food tasted like glue for a week anyway.

invites1

Before we began this process (which happened along with the second phase of embossing), the bride, her mom, and one of her bridesmaids had already:

  1. Cut the RSVP card stock to the correct size
  2. Glued the announcement portion onto silver backing
  3. Glued the printed RSVP cards to the heavier silver card stock

Now to peel and stick stamps on 166 envelopes. And TWO stamps on the larger invitation envelopes (because they require extra postage).

Stuffing these beauties into the pocket on the hand-crafted and quite beautiful announcements wasn’t an easy process.

The RSVP cards would have slid in easily. Unfortunately, they weren’t a traditional size so getting envelopes to exactly match them would have been expensive.

No problem. She ordered envelopes slightly larger that were considered a standard size. They should still fit. They were smaller than the pocket flap.

Except for the glued seams. Which made it a tight fit.Envelopes

The groom stuffed these cards into their pocket – into the night. His response to this, “That was the worst time of my life.”

While he moaned about that, the bride used an razor to cut the embossed flaps into a perfect angle. 175 x 2 = 350 cuts.

Finally, the last purple strip could be punched with the lovely snowflake swirl, folded around the closed announcement and glued in place.

Stuff this lovely piece of perfection into the already addressed and stamped envelopes, and the post office will do the rest.

The wedding will have guests.

Now, to get on with scrapbooking the showers and other memory-making events.

Road to Self-Published – Part 2 – Careful Cover Construction

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” might be a popular saying, but in the publishing world, people do it all the time. This is a major reason it’s imperative to have a professional cover for your independently published book.

I envisioned the perfect cover when I first started writing this book. I could see it in my mind’s eye. The thing had mystery and clean lines. It was beautiful.

And describing it became difficult. What? Don’t you use words to describe all the time? Certainly, but even specific words create differing pictures in the minds of those who hear them. Yes, based on their own knowledge and perceptions, another person might visualize something that looks like nothing I imagined I described to a tee.

Whatever file you use for keeping notes on your projects needs to have a page for cover images. Mine is called “Covers I Like.” When something strikes you, click the copy button and paste it into your notes.

CoversILike

Researching your Genre

All this means is heading over to Amazon and typing in the keywords for your genre. For me, I typed “Biblical fiction.” That’s it, and I had 100 pages to thumb through.

Scroll through the pretty thumbnails. When you find one you like, click on it to make it bigger. If it still sings to you, copy that sucker into the aforementioned file.

After I had ten lovely covers, I ranked them in the order of appeal. I might suggest noting what you like about them if it is early and you don’t have an appointment scheduled with your cover designer in the near future.

Resources from other Independent Authors

I personally know two people who are qualified to design my covers. I’m not talking about a friend who thinks they’re a wiz with Photoshop. These people are professional designers with a portfolio of work samples.

If you do not have personal knowledge, this is when you should milk your network of writing friends for information. They will gladly refer people who have served them well in the past. And steer you clear of the ones who were less than desirable to work with.

Here is a list of links that might help with this process:

A Meeting of the Minds

Let’s face it, having control over what the cover on your book looks like is important. Authors want the cover to reflect the contents, and who knows the contents better than the person who poured their soul into them? And then pored over them through multiple drafts?

For me, I wanted the cover artist to consider my thoughts and ideas before jumping off on their own creative path. Maybe other writers are less controlling about the cover.

Cover artists are artists. The photographer/graphic designer that I used is deeply concerned about the originality and perception of his work. Which is great – until it interferes with my own ideals.

If you find your cover artist offering up samples that are nothing like you envisioned (and though you communicated to him), it might be time to find another artist. Don’t wait too late, though, or your project could be in jeopardy of releasing on schedule.

Don’t skimp on your cover. It will cost a few thousand pennies to get the collection of digital files you need for the different platforms. Pay the piper. Your sales will thank you.

Additional Resources:

Book Publishing Guide

What resources have you found for designing covers? Are there other steps in the process I’ve overlooked?