There are jobs that turn out to be more than just another cover. And this was one of them.
After a few emails, I met the publisher in a nice Muswell Hill coffee. After a chat, we agreed that I would design a few books #freelancerlife and the first one to go was this one.
When I was handed this book, I thought it would be a nice challenge. The brief was good and it allowed me to push the boundaries a bit – like I mentioned in my previous post – which I love. And I did. I googled the author to find that not only he was a very interesting writer but also a heavy metal fan. Metal is not my thing – it was briefly in my early teens – however I do enjoy my Iron Maiden and my Manowar like I enjoy my goth and my prog (each to its own moments). So, Dr. Keith Khan-Harris, specialist in Judaism and heavy metal was my author. I thought to my self that this would be a great chance to work together for a good cover. And it was.
And I did grab the opportunity of sending my own vision. I pushed them hard but fair, in my opinion, and I cant post the previous proposals for you to see. You will have to trust me on this one. It is possible however to lift the veil one something. And this is the importance of having an author that knows what he wants, that can push you up instead of turning the cover process difficult. And having an editor (David) that trusts you and knows you can level up to any circumstance. Dr. Keith was always clear and his suggestions were focused and valid. This brings all of the participant elements in the cover process – me, the editor, and the author – to the same page and to the same goal. And that is why this cover was so smooth and so fast to be approved and finished, because all of us were working together.
While it is true that some of my proposals were bold, Dr. Keith was also swift to suggest improvements and that is mentioned on my recent twitter interaction with him. I told him how important he was in the process. Yes, many would think it is easy to work with a know figure, a experienced author. You would be wrong. It is harder. And it is harder because they are experienced, because they have knowledge and taste, and because they are demanding. In the famous “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort” speech from Kennedy, he said:
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too
A Kennedy speech to reflect on a book cover – how exaggerated, you might think. The moon is not the point here. The point is that it is difficult to go beyond your comfort zone, and a known author will always take you there. It is about either raising your bar or keeping your performance high. The point is setting up your goals and be able to rise to the occasion, not because it they are easy but because they are hard. Everyone can put a type on top of a nice picture. At the moment I think even monkeys play with Photoshop in their spare time, such is the number of people that can do stuff in Photoshop. Making a cover for a book that reflects the theme, tones, values, or message, that is the hard part and that is why we should be proud when you have a “well done” from your editor and author. That is when you understand that the research, the struggle, the thought process and all the tests were worth and that is why I am proud of my job, not because it is easy, but because it is hard!
When skill and will combine, great things are achieved. And a book is a great thing. It took time, research, thought, long hours, sacrifice and commitment for the author to came up with something that is in my hands to enhance, to use its potential, and to deliver a cover that not only meets the authors expectation, but in some cases exceeds them. It is a team effort, not a walk in the park. It annoys you and it messes you up when things are difficult, when you are not able to create another approach because you are drained and tired. None of that happened here. And that was because we all worked towards a cover that would tell the story. Not everything is like I wanted to. Surely not everything is like the editor thought it would be. Maybe it is not even what the author imagined for his cover. But we have undoubtedly done a great job and personally all the feedback I am having says so.
Authors could learn with Dr. Keith. Learn, not copy. What worked within this book might not be what you need for your book. However what you can learn, that will be always your best ally to have the cover you want, dream, or need, is that working together is the key to success. Yes, I wrote in past to let the designers do their jobs. My point here is that I was allowed to do my job. And the author and editor let me and worked with me, so we could make the cover share my vision, the author’s concept, and the publisher’s standards.
I will finish by adding the links where you can know more about this book and the author.