Be sure to stop by Murder by 4 for a guest post today (Friday) about mistakes writers make in thriller/suspense fiction, including misconceptions about the Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity plea and The Ambiguously Insane (But Often Brilliant) Villain. On Monday, stop by Mary Lindsey's delightful Purposeful, Deliberate Waffling blog for a guest post on what I've learned (and wanted to pass on to you) about publishing a book.
Thanks to everyone who posted comments here, through the Facebook feeds, and through email! I threw all the names in a hat and the winner of the signed book and the fab mug is....Deb Salisbury! Congratulations! Deb, could you email me with your snail mail addy, please? (My email address is here if you need it.)
Thank you too to everyone who participated in the blog tour, whether as a reader, a host, or a commenter! If you didn't win a signed copy to keep for yourself or give as a gift (or both!), Amazon has a great price -- and I've been promised that a Kindle edition is coming very soon! I will be sure to post again here when that happens.
Psychology Today Blog
In the meantime, if you haven't had a chance yet to check out out my Psychology Today blog, Psychology for Writers, please stop by! So far we've talked about haunted asylums, what makes a good villain, The Vampire Diaries, and what to do when your personal issues show up in your stories!
Today is the day! The day every writer waits for and dreams about -- the day her first book hits shelves.
For me, that book is THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior.
If you haven't ordered a copy yet, you can visit my WGTP website for more information including the media kit (which includes review excerpts) and a detailed table of contents, follow me on Facebook, or visit my new YouTube channel. And you can always send me your psychology and writing question here at Archetype Writing.
I am also thrilled to announce that in addition to enthusiastic blurbs from novelists like Jonathan Kellerman, Jilliane Hoffman, and Roberta Isleib, my first reviews are in from the New York Journal of Books, and they're excellent. Please read a brief review from the NYJB here and a much more extensive one (by a different reviewer) here.
I created the Archetype Writing website several years ago with the WGTP still just a seed of an idea in my mind. My goal was twofold: first, to try out the idea of psychology for writers (thank you all for your support along the way!), and second, to build a platform. I know that Archetype has grown a little static as I've worked on the book, but the site is still alive! I hope to be able to update more regularly in the upcoming months.
Blog Tour & Giveaways
In the meantime, please celebrate my book release with me! Over the next two weeks, I will be doing a blog tour. Several of the stops will include giveaways of autographed books!
Dec 1: QueryTracker Blog
Dec 2: Shooting Stars
Murder by Four (moved to 12/10)
Dec 6: Danyelle Leafty/Myth-Stakes
Dec 7: Imperfect Clarity
Dec 8: Christine Fonseca
Dec 9: Elana Johnson -
Also, Christine Fonseca is also going to review the book this day.
Dec 10: Murder by Four is hosting a guest post
Dec 13: Mary Lindsey
Archetype Book and Mug Giveaway!
I'll be keeping you posted on the various giveaways here. I'm also going to be doing one here. Post a comment here, on the Archetype blog between now and next Thursday, December 9th, and you'll be entered to win not only an autographed copy of the book, but also a very special, very rare Writer's Guide to Psychology mug! I'll announce the winner here on Friday, December 10th.
Kay, Christine will be contacting you to get your address so she can send out your signed copy!
If you'd still like a copy, you can order one from Amazon (they are waiting for another shipment in a couple of weeks, if you can wait that long). If you want one right now, you can order the book or even get a PDF copy directly from the publisher, Prufrock Press.
Thank you again to everyone who participated!
To celebrate the release of her first book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings, we're giving a copy away! I'm going to throw the names of everyone who comments on this post into a hat (seriously...I have lots of hats...love hats) and draw a winner. So...to enter, leave a comment below! I'll post the winner here on
1. How did you decide to write Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings?
After working with families of gifted students through the school district, I became increasingly aware of how society perceives the emotional aspects of giftedness as opposed to the cognitive attributes. Most people love the way a gifted child can solve problems with intensity, but do not understand that same intensity when it comes through via their emotions. As a result, too many kids grow to believe their emotions make them less – make them crazy.
Something needed to be done to help kids, parents and educators understand the emotional aspects of giftedness. Thus the idea for this book was born.
2. How do you define giftedness?
Great question. As you may know, there is no standard agreed upon definition of giftedness. That being said, I like this one the best (From the National Association for Gifted Children, NAGC):
“A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.”To expand that a bit, I would also say that a gifted individual demonstrates a specific set of attributes within their cognitive and emotional domains consistent amongst the gifted. This includes a high level of intensity in all aspects of their lives – cognitively and emotionally.
3. Why can gifted people be so intense?
I find the intensity to be a nature part of giftedness, related to how gifted kids interact with the world. Unfortunately, while being cognitively intense is generally a great thing at any age, being emotionally intense can be problematic – especially if you have not yet developed the emotional tools necessary to work with the intensity.
I remember working with a group of 3rd and 4th grade gifted students recently. I asked them to tell me the top things they worry about. Instead of the typical answers you may expect to hear from 8 and 9 year olds (my grades, my parents, my dog dying – that sort of thing), these children confessed their fears about the wars our country is involved in, the natural disasters that had been occurring, global warming and whether or not the country was headed for problems economically.
A gifted child truly approaches life looking through a very different lens – one that is much more global and intense.
4. Perfectionism is a problem for so many writers, and also for many gifted students. Do you have any tips to help people deal with their perfectionism?
I think the first thing to do is set realistic goals. If you, as a writer, tend to average 500 words during your writing sessions, don’t set a goal for 1K.
Next, it’s important to focus on the process – the journey – not just the outcome. If I had been outcome oriented when I queried that first novel, I would have quit three years ago. But I didn’t, because I focused on what I was learning, not on the fact that I hadn’t yet achieved my goals.
Check your perspective. Too often we have a faulty perspective of our world. When we get one rejection, we say “EVERYONE hates this book, again.” Not true. A better statement would be “This isn’t the right story for this agent.” Same event, two distinct ways of looking at it.
Bottom line, perfectionism is not completely bad – it is a driving force that enables us to continual grow and develop. But, taken to an extreme, it will paralyze us. It’s important to utilize some of the above strategies to prevent perfectionism from keeping you from achieving your goals.
6. What have you learned along this journey toward publication, both about yourself and about being a writer?
Needless to say, my journey towards publication did not really start with that first novel. Or the second. It started with my nonfiction.
Through this journey, I have experienced amazing highs – finding an agent, selling my first…and second…books, holding my galleys in my hand, holding the book in my hands. I have also experienced extreme lows – having to shelve a novel…and another, rewriting a story from a blank page, endless rejections, endless confidence issues, jealousy.
All of it has been part of my journey, teaching me what persistence really means, patience, tolerance, and an acceptance that this is NOT a journey I could have done alone. These are things many gifted individuals never get a chance to learn. Perhaps that is why so many gifted peeps are drawn to the creative arts – for a chance to not only express themselves, but to find a true challenge.
7. In addition to EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS, you have another book coming out this spring: 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS: THE ULTIMATE HANDBOOK. Where do you find your ideas?
Giftedness is a significant underserved population when it comes to advice books. My ideas come from endless conversations with gifted adults and children – listening to their concerns, answering their questions, offering help when I can.
Fiction is a different story. These ideas come from people-watching. Yes, that’s right – I LOVE to spy on people, listen to the things they talk about, how they interact with each other. All of my stories usually start there – whether I am writing a contemporary “issue” piece, or exploring some dark gothic fantasy.
8. How do you find the time for your writing?
Like every other writer balancing multiple careers, I scrap time whenever and wherever I can. I am a pretty driven and disciplined person when it comes to work (unlike my approach to exercise), so finding time usually isn’t a problem. My issue, is remembering to stay balanced – take some down time in between projects, take time to flake out, that sort of thing.
9. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your book/s?
I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for the wonderful support I’ve had for EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. The stories of hope and the ah-ha moments parents have emailed me about make every moment of this entire process worth it.
Thanks for having me Carolyn. I can’t wait to celebrate YOUR book release soon. (Isn't she awesome? -Carolyn)
Want more info on Christine and her books? You can read the first chapter of Emotional Intensity here. You can also visit her website or blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter. The book is now available, and you can order it here, or get the e-reader version here.
I got in touch with the person with the power to fix things, finally, and the Archetype site is back up! Apologies again for the interruption, and I'm hopeful that won't ever happen again!
|Does this test pattern remind anybody else of |
the Amityville Horror?
The short explanation: The people I registered the domain name with changed the way their logins work and, in the process, they locked me out. As a friend of mine would say, ruh-roh.
Extended explanation: The domain name is whatever you name your website, in this case, archetypewriting.com. You pay a special fee for the right to use that name. When I initially built the Archetype site, I purchased the domain name (the right to use the name/address) and the server space (the physical space where the actual site material is stored) at the same time. Sometime between then and now, the company that I purchased from transferred the domain name part of their service over to another company. When they went to renew my server space and domain name, the server space (which they still control) went through fine, but the domain name (which is now handled by someone else) wouldn't go through.
I then got an email alerting me to the problem, and started trying to sort through what had happened.
I worked my way through several websites yesterday until I figured out who is holding my domain name hostage. I called their technical support today and talked with a tech guy, and he told me that since the domain name expired two days ago while I was trying to figure out what was going on, I now have to talk to someone else...who works weird hours.
I will be calling her tomorrow, credit card in hand, to--I hope--get everything worked out and the domain transferred over to the service I normally use (which I've never had problems with locking me out). I'm hopeful that the site will be back up by Thursday or Friday.
In the meantime, rest assured that the Archetype site is safe. The server space I use (where the actual website is stored) has the material right where it belongs, and of course I maintain backups locally.
Apologies for the temporary down-time. We'll be back up ASAP!
QUESTION: I have A LOT of questions pertaining this one idea since I'm so determined to get the character's psyche right. I'm writing a story in which my character has un-diagnosed bipolar disorder.We have two different diagnoses going on here, right? Bipolar I disorder (the worst form of bipolar d/o) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (the official name for sociopathy).
- How would this, if left untreated, affect a sociopathic character?
- I know that bipolar disorder gets worse if left untreated, but how much worse could it get before the character is driven to suicide?
- HOW, specifically, would the disorder get worse?
- What would have to have occured in his childhood to spark the desire to kill?
- What would prompt him to choose his victims? Is it just random or would a small force (specifically, accidentally insulting them) set him off?
- Would the antisocial personality disorder account for the bipolar symptoms, or would they have two completely different sets of symptoms?
Let’s make sure we get each one defined first. Bipolar disorder means your character has both devastating major depressive episodes and full-blown manic episodes. To be diagnosable, these episodes should cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
You also note that the character has not been diagnosed – in other words, no counselor or doctor has said “this is bipolar disorder” and suggested treatment.
The most notable way that bipolar disorder may affect sociopathic behavior is that during manic episodes, when the character’s judgment and impulse control go down, he may do things that are more hurtful to others than someone might otherwise. In other words, the manic episode exacerbates the sociopathic behavior.
I know that bipolar disorder gets worse if left untreated, but how much worse could it get before the character is driven to suicide? HOW, specifically, would the disorder get worse?If bipolar disorder goes untreated, the character will begin to swing more rapidly between manic and depressive episodes, and the episodes may become more intense. “Rapid cycling” bipolar disorder means that there are at least two cycles a year (mania, depression, and then again, mania, depression). In other words, the character is cycling over months rather than over years. Ultra-rapid cycling occurs over weeks to days, and ultradian cycling happens over days.
Note that rapid cycling happens more as someone becomes older if the disorder is untreated. Also note that your character doesn’t have to be cycling ultra-rapidly if you want him to be moody. Since people with bipolar disorder have a mood “thermostat” that is easily knocked off balance by things like stress, he can be a mercurial sort even if he isn’t cycling rapidly from up to down and vice versa.
Suicide is not always a given with a mood disorder. Many people consider suicide to try to escape the pain of such extremes in mood, but others do not. And of those who consider it as an option, only some choose to act on it.
What would have to have occurred in his childhood to spark the desire to kill?Okay, now we’re talking about the sociopathy. Typically there are a few different things that can trigger the type of dangerousness you’re interested in. The most common are abuse and severe neglect. Children who grow up around violence tend to learn violence as an acceptable way to deal with problems.
Some genetic mutations, brain abnormalities, and frontal lobe (of the brain) injuries can also contribute. You can probably get away with that generic info, but if you want more details, I suggest picking up a copy of my forthcoming book, The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior.
What would prompt him to choose his victims? Is it just random or would a small force (like, specifically, accidentally insulting them) set him off?Most people with APD recognize that breaking the law will get them locked up if they get caught. So they’re probably not going to flip out on someone for something small…unless, of course, they’re in the middle of a manic episode, when their judgment is extremely poor.
Would the antisocial personality disorder account for the bipolar symptoms, or would they have two completely different sets of symptoms?Definitely two different sets of symptoms! They’re two totally different disorders.
Need accurate and easy-to-understand information on bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or why villains act the way they do for your story? I've got you covered with lots of information on all of those topics in The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior at your favorite online bookstore today! Pre-order a copy now!
Remember, if YOU have a psychology in fiction question you want to see answered here, use the Q&A form on the Archetype site.
QUESTION: My MC (Andrew) exhibits many symptoms of borderline personality disorder, including splitting. With the splitting, he basically thinks of himself as a "good" Andrew and a "bad" Andrew. In his thoughts, the good part of him (whom he calls Leif) talks with the bad part. At first, it's just jumbled thought, sometimes doesn't make sense, and as it progresses, it develops two distinct voices. He thinks the bad Andrew is just worthless and a street whore (he's a prostitute) and the good Andrew is who he is trying to change into, to fix his life. I don't think this is split personality or multiple personalities because they are aware of each other, and it really is like two aspects of the same thing. Does this make sense, psychologically? Is it still borderline, or is this something else?
ANSWER: It sounds like you've got the gist of splitting, which is pretty commendable, since it's a tough concept. Typically, though, adult splitting is seen as a kind of defense mechanism, so people aren't really aware that they're doing it.
Let me explain splitting a little more, just so that makes sense, and then we'll talk about what might work well for your story.
According to object relations theorists like Melanie Klein, newborns essentially believe that the world is part of the same entity as them. In other words, they can't differentiate between themselves and the world. Later, they differentiate between "me" and the world, but Mommy (or Daddy, or whoever the primary caregiver is) is seen as part of "me." Still later, the child begins to understand that "me" and Mommy are different, but they have trouble seeing "good Mommy" (who acquiesces to them and fulfills their needs) and "bad Mommy" who says "no" or is otherwise frustrating or disappointing as the same person. This is splitting, and it's natural around 3-4 months of age. As we get older (i.e. around 6 months of age), we learn to see "good Mommy" and "bad Mommy" as part of the same person. That's why we can love and hate someone at the same time.
This natural process is interrupted in people who have borderline personality disorder, typically due to trauma of some kind (usually abuse). As a result, these children never stop splitting other people and either idealize or devalue them. They may swing back and forth very quickly from one side to the next, but they aren't really able to simultaneously integrate the good and bad.
People with borderline personality disorder never learn to regulate their emotions, so they have extremely tumultuous, even destructive relationships with others as they frantically try to get others to help them deal with a world they feel they can’t deal with alone.
You say Andrew has other borderline tendencies, but if splitting is the primary reason you’re using the borderline diagnosis, it might be simpler to move away from that diagnosis. (Borderline personality is an extremely painful disorder for the person who has it, and they often have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and incredibly disruptive behavior patterns, and that’s a lot to try to portray!)
At the same time, you’re right, it doesn’t sound like Andrew would qualify for dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder). His relationship with his alter ego, Leif, isn’t dissociative enough.
It sounds to me like Andrew has just named a normal ego state and is relating to it in a way that works for him. Which is entirely possible and probably is not in itself diagnosable.
Everyone has multiple ego states. That’s normal. For example, the “you” that goes to Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws probably acts a little different than the “you” that goes out for a raucous evening on the town with friends. Both parts are you, but they’re different sides or facets of you.
Some people are more aware of these different ego states than others, especially if they play very diverse roles in life. That sounds like the case for Andrew.
It’s even pretty normal for people to give their ego states names, though they may think of those ego states as “the party girl” or “the writer” or whatever. People also adapt their names based on the setting they're in. For example, an Andrew might be Mr. Whomever at work, but Drew with friends and Andy to his lover. And I know people who go by their given names (e.g. James) in formal situations but by a middle name or nickname that's completely different in informal settings (e.g. Tim).
If you want or need a diagnosis for Andrew, based on the brief description you gave me, I’d probably lean toward some kind of a mood disorder, maybe dysthymia (a chronic, low-grade, but extremely wearing depression) or a major depressive disorder (which is more crippling at its worst, but tends to get better and then worse and then better again over the years). An anxiety disorder is another possibility.
For more information on borderline personality, dissociative identity disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, treatments, therapies, and character-building, be sure to pre-order a copy of The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior at your favorite online bookstore today!
Shutter Island last night. I didn't know a lot about it other than that it was Leonardo DiCaprio on an island that was an asylum for the criminally insane. I'd also heard that it was the same kind of mindbender as the 2000 film Memento, which I enjoyed.
I really enjoyed the movie, and if you haven't seen it, it's worth watching. (And I'm going to be careful not to include spoilers below.) In addition to the story itself, it's an interesting study of psychology as it stood in the mid 1950s. Psychotropic medications, most notably antipsychotics, had just entered widespread use, but earlier, more destructive treatments like lobotomies were still being widely used (and misused) on difficult patients.
It's too bad that they didn't place a little more emphasis on how mental institutions at the time were self-sustaining. Patients helped do things like farm, and in addition to providing sustenance, it gave them purpose and responsibility and dignity and improved their overall mental health in many cases -- which makes a lot of sense when you consider that the alternative in many cases was to be stuck in a closed room.
One of the things I loved most about the film was the portrayal of DiCaprio's character's experiences as a soldier in WWII. He was part of the regiment that freed Dauchau, and as the movie progresses it becomes clear that he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) complete with intrusive recollections, recurrent nightmares, amnesia for certain events, hypervigilance, and irritability. And rather than using washed-out frames to portray the memories, Scorsese hyper-saturates the scenes, giving them a vibrant, even jarring hyper-realism.
The one thing that drove me crazy through much of the movie was the assumption that the new antipsychotics (chlorpromazine, or Thorazine, in particular) caused hallucinations and delusions when in fact they do the exact opposite. But it was all explained in the end. I promised not to spoil the film for you, so I'd better stop there...
Definitely worth a watch, though, if you haven't seen it.
I'm really looking forward to seeing another mindbending DiCaprio movie next weekend: Inception. If that one has as much psychology as this one did, I'll be writing another one of these in a week! (But hey, if you've seen it, no spoilers for me in the comments, okay? I wanna be surprised! :)
Need accurate and easy-to-understand information on antipsychotics, lobotomies, historical or modern mental institutions, and disorders like PTSD for your story? I've got you covered with lots of information on all of those topics in The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior at your favorite online bookstore today! Pre-order a copy now!
The first thing you need to do is sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and storyboard a bit. What is your primary graphical symbol going to be? What do you want your menus to say? Will you have submenus? How will you lay them out?
To the right you'll see what a basic storyboard looks like for me...and how that might translate into a completed site. My sites rarely look just like my storyboards, but they're often quite similar.
Once I've come up with a basic storyboard, I do a lot of thinking in Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I try combining things in different ways to see how they look. I went through nearly 15 iterations of the Writer's Guide to Psychology website before I was happy with the design. To the right and below are just three of them (the bottom one being what I settled on).
In other words, don't worry if it takes you a while to get it right. Trial and error is often the best way to figure out what's going to work for you and your book.
Actually Building the Site
I'm one of the lucky ones -- I've been creating webpages since 1995, and I love doing it. It's fun for me to design a site; create the graphics, text, and other media; and tweak until I'm happy.
You may not feel that way, or you may not yet know how to build a website on your own. If either of these things is the case, you have several options.
1. Hire someone to build the site for you.
- Pros: You don't have to get your hands dirty. You pay someone and the work is done.
- Cons: You're trusting your site to someone else, and you don't get the same opportunity to play around until the site feels just right. Having someone else build a site for you an also be expensive, especially if you rely on them to do all your updates.
- Pros: You can build a site on your own without having to understand how the coding works.
- Cons: These template sites vary widely in quality, ease of use, and functionality. Many (if not most) of them scream amateur. Some require you to have some basic knowledge of how the web works. Some are costly. You are limited by the template you choose, especially if you're plunking down hard-earned cash to use a particular one. And there's no guarantee someone else won't be using exactly the same template.
- Pros: Easy to use and update, lots of templates to choose from. In many cases you can tailor a blog to look more like a website than a blog. WordPress and Blogger both offer a way to make different pages so everything isn't running through the blog engine.
- Cons: Custom templates can be buggy, and they often require some HTML and/or CSS knowledge to really tweak them. Instructions on how to make changes vary from very good to extremely poor.
- Pros: You have complete control over your site and the possibilities are limitless.
- Cons: Advanced knowledge and patience are required. (If you're going to try to learn Dreamweaver, I highly recommend Dreamweaver CS4 Missing Manual and CSS: The Missing Manual if you want to really understand CSS.) MS Expression web is considerably cheaper (unless you're a student or teacher) and has very similar functionality to Dreamweaver. There are also plenty of books to help you learn MS Expression Web, though I haven't read any of them, so I can't make any particular recommendations. (Once you learn one of the programs, you can move back and forth pretty easily between them.)
A little tip as you build, especially if you're using someone else's templates. Remember, just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should do something. In other words, simple is often better.
If you're not using Blogger or WordPress (or sometimes even if you are), you'll want a website address (aka a domain name) that refers to you or your product. Fortunately, domain names are inexpensive, often around $10 a year. GoDaddy.com is an easy place to buy a domain name, though I prefer SSL Catacomb Networking, as they're often cheaper and I like the control they give me over my domain names.
Dot-com (.com) names are the most popular because everyone automatically tacks ".com" onto a website address, but you can use all kinds of domain extensions (.net, .info, etc.) if .com is already taken. Though website domain sellers often encourage you to buy every extension under the sun, that's really not necessary.
Once you have your domain name and host service, you're ready to upload your finished site. (I use Website Source because you can do pretty much everything with it...including shell in if you want to. Don't worry if you don't know what shelling in is...it's the ability to do high-level customization of your site on the server side.) Programs like Dreamweaver and Expression Web will help you upload straight from the program.
So...if you have a website, what approach are you using? Do you like it? Would you do anything differently if you were starting over?
A PS on websites: I was going to do a major overhaul of the Archetype site, paring it down quite a bit, but in the end I decided it was best to let the site stand mostly as-is, unwieldy though it may be. After all, my goal in writing the book has been to add to the information available to writers on accurate psychology, so it seems almost counterproductive to be reducing the information already available online.
My forthcoming book, THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY, now has its own website and blog!
As I've made this journey, I've been sharing the ins and outs with you, so I figured I'd talk a bit about the importance of websites in promoting your book.
I'm going to quote PR THERAPY author Robin Blakely, because she says it so well:
It's mandatory in today's world to have an Internet presence. Currently, that internet presence must, at a minimum, consist of an e-mail address and a website or landing page.Why is a website so crucial? Well, partly because the first thing many of us do when we hear about a product that interests us is go online to find out more. A website dedicated to the author/book in question serves several purposes:
1. It legitimizes the author and the book.
Before we get into [website] content, let’s talk a little bit about design. You need to pick a theme or symbol to represent you. Something that’s unique to your site and your work. In advertising, we call that branding.
I have this really cool pen that my mom got me as a stocking stuffer one year. The barrel is clear, and there’s a little light in there that changes colors. I turned it on, put it on a white sheet of paper and started snapping photographs as it changed colors. That silly little gift, with the light orange, has become my symbol for Archetype Writing. I have it on my site; I have it on my blog. (I also have it on notepaper and my business cards. I'm getting oodles of mileage out of that pen.)I also used specific colors to go with the Archetype brand -- most notably orange, a color I chose because it is associated with adjectives like energizing, vital, friendly, and fun. I paired it with black to ground it, since black brings to mind adjectives like bold, strong, powerful, and sober. In other words -- I was going for a site that is fun to visit, but also includes authoritative information. (If you're particularly interested in the psychology of color in branding and advertising to help you build your site, I highly, highly recommend the Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color by Leatrice Eiseman.)
Over on my new Writer's Guide to Psychology website, the brand is strongly influenced by my book cover. I decided to carry over the image of the brain, along with the typewriter font and the warm, robust colors, particularly dark red. If someone has seen the book, I want them to know they've reached the right website the second they see it, and vice versa.
In the meantime...what have I missed? What else does a website do to help a book? And as a writer, do you have your own author or book website?
You'll all have to forgive me for being so very in absentia of late. I've had a lot going on with the upcoming book, but I'm excited to finally be able to unveil some information: the cover, the title, and the publication month. Since you're all writers too, I thought you might be interested in the process we went through to reach these decisions -- read on!
I turned in my completed and polished manuscript last October to the fab team at Quill Driver Books (hereafter referred to as QD). We took the holidays off and then dove into January with some fine-tuning in anticipation of the book listing going out with Quill Driver's fall catalog. (Yes, it's just now spring, but remember, publishing almost always operates months in advance.)
First, we changed the title from Nervous Breakdowns and Psychopathic Killers: The Writer's Guide to Psychology to The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior.
Why? Well, my original goal was to create a title that grabbed the browser -- NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS AND PSYCHOPATHIC KILLERS! -- and made her want to pause long enough to look at the subtitle and then the book. However, QD made a really good point: many, many people browse books online, and the subtitle often isn't visible. So we needed a title that made clear the book's purpose. We banged around some possible titles and subtitles and finally came up with one that not only clearly explained what the book was about, but was interesting, too.
Next came the book cover. QD had a design firm come up with three different cover options, all of them quite different. I asked some of the people I was closest to what they thought; meanwhile, QD discussed the options internally and also asked the book distributor folks for their input. In the end, we chose a design that best seemed to convey the concept captured by the new title. Seeing the book cover is kind of like putting on a wedding veil -- you realize in a way you hadn't before that this is really going to happen!
Most recently, I got a publication month: December 2010 -- just in time for holiday shopping! The book isn't yet available for pre-order, but it should be soon. I'll be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, I'm starting to think again about publicity. At the top of my list is the Archetype website.
I first created Archetype several years ago while I was building my initial platform. One of my goals over the next few months is to rebuild the Archetype website. There's a good chance I'll be starting from scratch and creating something that aligns even better with the book than the current site. Never fear -- I'll definitely be keeping the Q&A, though I may switch it over to a blog format -- blogs are so easy to update!
If you have thoughts or suggestions on the new site, by all means, now is the time to speak up!