When we consulted with Scott Edelstein about the steps from written manuscript to published book, he patiently explained the complicated world of publishing and concluded with an introduction to the equally complex world of self-publishing. Both Leslie and I remembered one particular nugget of advice—if you want to be in control, self-publishing is the route to go.
That characterizes Leslie and me. We love control! We wanted input into every phase of our book – particularly, the cover. We batted around a lot of cover design ideas between us, usually incorporating a photo of Vera and Alisa. Neither of us is a designer and, finally, we decided we needed professional intervention.
How do you find a good designer? I thought it would be like finding a good hairdresser.
You look at others’ haircuts and asked, “who did it?” It’s not quite that simple because we also wanted a local designer. We went to the library, to bookstores, and combed our own bookshelves staring at the covers. We looked at colors, the font, the overall impression. I remembered a book I’d received from the Minnesota Humanities Center as a parting gift when my term on the Board of Directors ended. The cover was stunning. The cover designer, Cathy Spengler, lives close to Leslie so we emailed and set up a meeting.
I suppose others in search of a cover designer might interview several people and gather ideas. Not us. Cathy felt like a good friend right away. She understood us immediately and we learned that was the key to the design. We could talk about the emotion we wanted to convey through the cover, the information we needed to add to the quirky title, and the overall look we liked. And we could digress and drink coffee and eat sweets with Cathy. She was a perfect match.
Cathy translated the “feel” to eleven possible covers. We both gravitated instantly to one of the covers, but we wanted to hear others’ reactions. Overachievers that we are, Leslie and I showed the cover possibilities to 150 people to gauge their reactions. People seemed to like being asked their opinion and had a lot to say. We collated their remarks into a grid and passed it on to Cathy. Some cover ideas generated both strong positive and negative reactions. In the end,we assessed what needed clarifying (many thought the canal was reminiscent of Venice and didn’t know St. Petersburg was also a city of canals). Cathy went back to the drawing board and our current cover emerged. We started with the adjective “clean” for a cover and ended up with a very complex narrative built into the cover.
In retrospect, the cover is a very different one than either of us had imagined, but we did enjoy our control and we thank all 150 people who weighed in on the cover design. To my son, Michael—your artistic sensibility was pivotal in the final design. We’ve included all eleven original designs so you, too, can select your favorite. Post your opinion on the Jewish Luck facebook page.
To read a short description of our cover designer, see our web page, www.morejewishluck.com, look under the button “Book” and the tab, Behind the Scenes, and you'll find a short blurb on Cathy Spengler.
Book Cover Blog Text