Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do novelist skills help in other work?

Ana muses on her skill set.

     I'm working on setting up an Etsy store for my soup and seasoning mix business this weekend--one of my New year resolutions. I'm crafting detailed product descriptions, a return policy, international shipping procedures, and a business profile.
     I've had to generate keywords, pick a slogan, weigh so many options. Take a risk. Read dozens of helpful suggestions that trigger more questions. Deal with frustration at my e-commerce limitations.
     One site how-to suggestion--that I am capable of doing--is writing good descriptions. I know how to vary sentence structure. I can replace a wordy phrase with one succinct word. Spell and punctuate. Front and back load sentences for impact. Paint verbal pictures.
     This takes work, just like in story telling. I'm still wrestling for the right emotional verbiage for my shop banner, but I'll find it.  And later, if I think of something better, I can change it.

     What I can't do is take pictures. Everything in e-commerce is visual, just like the cover of a book. The image hooks the shopper/browser/reader to click on the link, to read further.
     Images for e-commerce need to be really good. Hi res, specific number of pixels. Set dimensions. Taken in natural light. Taken with camera-linked flash. Close up. In a mood-setting background. Demonstrate use and usefulness. Mind boggling options with real-life kickback.

    When I was visiting my daughter in NYC, I watched her friend, a professional catalog photographer, take pictures of her leather and brass necklaces. (She's setting up an Etsy shop, too.) Cocooned in a sheet draped studio, with ten-foot tall backlights and flash lighting that popped like a gun in thousandth of a second bursts, he stood on a ladder and angled a reflector so a ray of light highlighted the shaped brass.
     The camera immediately sent each image to a laptop monitor, where he assessed the initial quality of the image. If he was satisfied, he tweaked an array of settings to further improve the image. (He can take component images and assemble them so the final image looks like it was just one shot.) Her pictures look amazing. Professional. Taken on his day off. We went out for dinner after. He's a really nice guy.

     I know how to overcome my image limitations. At least I'm not having to hire a writer.


  1. Once we have the basic skills, we can adapt our writing style, phrasing, language use, etc, to many different kinds of writing, as appropriate. WE only need a pen and paper or a computer.
    Taking photos for publication is a whole different ball game, often requiring specialised equipment.

  2. You're right, Paula. I also have a very difficult time looking through the camera eyepiece--and holding still when the picture snaps. Sigh.

  3. I must have taken thousands (millions?) of photos during my life, ever since I had my first camera when I was about 12. Digital cameras make life easier because, of course, you can see your photo immediately, and take another if necessary. Some of mine turn out well, others not! Check out my personal blog for some of my photos of Ireland!

  4. Your pictures are great. Maybe I need a good auto-focus digital camera. All the focus settings on a regular camera are intimidating.

  5. They're certainly much easier to use than the 'old' cameras!

  6. Ana, everyone has their own skill sets they are good at and skills they don't have. You're lucky you have been able to identify what works for you and what doesn't. And how wonderful to have someone you can call to help you out!

  7. We get by with our friends, don't we. And with assistance from those we can hire.

  8. Those who can, do. Those who can't, find someone else to do it for them :-)

  9. Digital cameras certainly helped me hone my picture-taking skills, but, still, I'm much better with words than pictures!

    But all of this reminds me that I really need to get a new author photo done soon... :)