shami final

The power of visual design: How to make your blog stand out

You’ve got a blog. You’ve got Twitter. You post regularly. But how do you stand out?

Almost everyone in publishing is sharing online content but, without a loyal following, posting blog articles and tweets can feel like shouting into the void.

Luckily, there is one majorly underappreciated weapon in your social media arsenal – visual design.

international rights buyers

Getting found in translation

In 2015 there was a much needed push for works in translation. In October Amazon announced it was making a $10m (£6.5m) investment in AmazonCrossing as a “commitment over the next five years to increase the number and diversity of its books in translation”.

According to an article in the Guardian late last year, ‘How Amazon came to dominate fiction in translation’, 2016 will see AmazonCrossing publishing Pierced by the Sun, the new novel from the Mexican author of Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, as well as Jesper Bugge Kold’s Danish Book Forum Debut prize–nominated Winter Men. Plus the award-winning Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski’s Rage, the 2014 winner of the Glass Key for Scandinavian crime fiction Gard Sveen’s The Last Pilgrim, and a number of Indonesian writers, including Abidah El Khalieqy, Nukila Amal and Laksmi Pamuntjak. It has also translated fiction into German for the last three years, started translating fiction into French earlier this year, and has recently announced its first translations into Italian.

This reflects some positive strides within the translations market and, from our experience here at IPR License, we are seeing more and more international publishers both eager to sell their existing works for translation and secure the rights to relevant titles.

A question we are often asked by smaller publishing houses, enticed by the idea of this particular market, is where and how do other publishers discover such works.

Well, this can happen in a variety of ways.

It could be by word of mouth, a conversation or observation at a book fair, a tip off from a translator, a glance across an international bookshelf or from an online platform showcasing works from around the world.

Finding an interesting title is only the beginning. There are then a number of relevant conversations at be had and questions to be asked, such as:

  • Is the title available in my language/market of choice?
  • Has it already been translated into any other languages and was it successful?
  • Could I source a suitable translator?
  • Where can I secure the rights?
  • Can we sell it?

These questions illustrate that acquiring works for translation isn’t always straightforward, and that’s even before the sales process. However, thanks to technological advances it has got easier. Challenges do remain but there is growing evidence that 2016 will be a year in which more works in translation will come to fore.


So what makes graphic novels so great?

When I think of graphic novels I think of beautifully complex graphic illustrations, intricately designed artwork full of exuberating colour and detail that takes the reader into a world of vivid adventure. The storyline is just as important, there is no point having amazing visuals and a terrible plot line, these two factors must be succinct in order to be successful.

A graphic novel is similar to comic book, narrated through a sequence of images directing the reader on a journey through actions, dialogue and much needed exposition yet is significantly longer and should be read as a novel with graphic visuals rather than in short episodic segments as one would with a comic book. To read a graphic novel is an experience in itself.

So what makes graphic novels so great?

As a graphic novel enthusiast I regularly visit my local Forbidden Planet in Croydon, wide-eyed and mesmerised by the plethora of graphic literature; like a child in a sweetie shop. Although I am easily amused by the aesthetics of a graphic novel, the storylines are often equipped with witty repartee, catchy phrases and slogans, and usually has an underlining message that reflects the current issues in today’s contemporary society.

Maus   Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus are just two examples of how a graphic novel can examine societal issues through visual interpretations. The great thing about graphic novels is the emotive response and connection between the reader and the novel. You no longer have to use your imagination to create an idea of the mise-en-scene and character profile as a graphic novel illustrates every emotion, struggle and physical changes in the characters.

Yet it is the superhero and supernatural theme of science fiction genre that most readers would identify with graphic novels. The Superhero theme is a class all on its own and bodes well in comic books and graphic novels as artists can really take full advantage of the action, magic and supernatural elements that become lifelike. DC and Marvel have had huge successes turning comic books into films franchises, with requests for graphic novel special editions and even encyclopaedias.  Even film franchises such as Star Wars have converted into graphic novels at the request of popular demand.

I personally prefer Image Comics, Dark Horse and Titan Books as they specialize in publishing graphic novels that aren’t your typical cliché Superhero-Ville storylines and many of the titles published incorporate neo-noir artwork such as Sin City, The Walking Dead and Watchmen.

Sin City  WAtchmen  The Walking Dead

My latest graphic novel read is Saga published by Image Comics, written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples. Saga is graphic in more ways than one and should be cautioned as an 18 as there are some exceedingly gruesome scenes that may make the weak squeamish. But I guess that is another great thing about graphic novels, the ability to experiment a storyline with artwork.


Unfortunately, many publishers are reluctant to entertain the demand of the graphic novel form, which I believe is a missed opportunity. The cost of creating a graphic novel is a risky investment, managing the quality of paper, colour, print and the use of illustrators, graphic designers and typographers.

Comic Con events are proliferating across the UK, reflecting the increased interest in graphic novels, comic books, manga and anime. One only needs to follow the trending topics on Twitter to see just how influential the graphic novel experience can be.

Here’s a list of the Forbidden Planet’s top 50 graphic novel titles.


India Hosten-HughesIndia Hosten-Hughes is a MA Publishing student at Kingston University. She’s also a blogger, and graphic novel, manga and anime enthusiast. 

States of Mind front cover

Seven tips for powering through permissions

After spending the past few months sourcing over 90 works of fiction, non-fiction and art for inclusion in Wellcome Collection’s new anthology, States of Mind: Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness, I’ve learned a few tricks about acquiring copyright permissions. Here are my top seven tips:


Visual trends predictions for 2016

They are to images what meteorologists are to weather.

As part of the world’s leading visual media company, a global team of creative researchers and art directors understand image trends in a way few others can, predicting and producing the type of imagery brands will need in the year ahead.

They analyse data from the millions of images searched and licensed via and track how these visuals are used in everything from advertising to movies, social media to magazines.

Want to know where the visual zeitgeist is headed? Getty Images Director of Visual Trends Pam Grossman knows. She recently led a webinar on the topic, which explored the art and science behind her team’s 2016 predictions. Here’s a high-level look:

Outsider In

People who push the envelope and visuals that break with tradition will be widely embraced, as popular taste becomes more daring.

Extended Human

Our notion of personhood is expanding, as we harness the power of technology in all areas of our lives. The parameters of man and machine are starting to blur, and the results are riveting.

Divine Living

As brands focus on values, reflection and revelation become front and centre, with consumers shifting their focus to more meaningful consumption.


Brands will harness the power of the ugly, messy, sweaty, visceral aesthetic. It’s a rebellion against the order of everyday life that revels in the physicality and soul of human nature.

Silence vs. Noise

This trend focuses on making space for consumers to breathe and reconnect in a cluttered marketplace, engaging our emotions and spirit with visual haikus.


As we look to visually represent the multifaceted lives we experience in the digital age, the opportunities for creativity are endless. This trend focuses on surreal graphic imagery and plays with ideas of infinity, duality and multiplicity.

Go deeper into the 2016 trends. Watch the webinar.

This is a guest post by Maria Dal Pan Dias, Getty Images Editorial Director (Content Marketing).

Lean in 15

On publishing Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15: Carole Tonkinson interview

Carole Tonkinson is the founder of Bluebird and publisher of the record-breaking Number One bestseller Lean in 15 by Joe Wicks, The Body Coach. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

KU Big Read logo

How we chose a book for KU Big Read

This is a guest post by Alison Baverstock, Associate Professor and Lecturer on the Kington Publishing MA. Along with a team of students, Alison co-ordinated the hugely successful KU Big Read, whereby every new student is given a free book to create a shared sense of community upon starting a course. Here she tells us more about the scheme and how they went about choosing the shortlist for the #KUBR2.

The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree wins Costa Book of the Year 2015: Frances Hardinge interview

Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree is winner of the Costa Book of Year 2015 award. Here Laura Summers interviews Frances on the book and being a writer.

Crispin covers

Designing book covers for a series: Stuart Bache interview

Stuart Bache is Art Director of Books Covered, a design agency for publishers, independent authors and literary agents. Here Norah Myers interviews him on designing book covers for a series and more.


Bootstrapping your book

There are basically three ways to start a business. You can use your own private fortune, you can pitch to investors for funding, or you can bootstrap: start at the beginning, plough the early profits back into the business, own and earn every scrap of the company. None of them is intrinsically ‘better’ than another, each has its pros and cons, they’re just right for different people in different situations.

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