Do you have a book aesthetic?

“Post a link to your book aesthetic if you have one.” This was an optional field in an agent’s online query form for a manuscript I was submitting. I had no idea what this was, so went searching.

I am now indebted to this marvelous, detailed post by author Tina Hogan Grant. As she says, a “book aesthetic is a group of pictures/photos that relate to a story or even possibly tell the story.”

And fortunately, it’s really easy to do! Thanks to Tina, here’s how I formed my most recent one:

  1. I picked out key elements of my story. This included attributes of my main character, experiences of peripheral characters, and the driving force behind the story.
  2. With these elements in mind, one by one I searched for them using free stock photo sites, such as:
  3. I then opted to create a page here on my WordPress site to host these pictures.
    • WordPress lets you build collages of images you upload, and you can even pick a gallery template when creating your page.
    • You can keep your page “off-menu” and have it accessible only if you send someone the link.
  4. Another image-building option is Canva, a free design site with a huge array of templates.
    • Tip: Select a “social media post” size of canvas or enter your own dimensions, then in Elements, search for “grid” to use ready-made collage tiles.
    • Then download your design to upload to any site you can share a link to, such as WordPress or Pinterest.

So let’s say I wanted to show a story of a little girl who makes a wish that the rather plain old bridge in her town is actually a beautiful, magical bridge that leads to a land where stuffed animals were waiting to find their friends? I might put together something like this to start with:

I rather want to go there myself!

What this does not mean (at least, what I don’t take it to mean) is that any images you find are the ones that have to go into your book as the actual illustrations. This is a conceptual, visual companion to the story without replacing what’s in the reader’s mind or what will be accompanying the text.

You can keep adding to your collage, or have multiple collages. Your focus and intent are entirely personal, so please experiment with what works for you. And get all the details from Tina’s post!

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