Query Quagmire

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When an author wants their son to design the cover

"I may not have mentioned that my son is a graphic designer and that I have asked him to come up with some cover design options, using the illustration we talked about.  I have him working on a Sanskrit-like font for the title and border design. I didn’t think that it should be a problem having your book designer and my son collaborate.  It would be helpful to have some guidelines that I could pass along to my son, and especially a time line as he graduates this spring."

You may file this one under “Things authors say that make their editors want to stab their eyeballs out with a spork.”

Our in-house book designer is a fucking genius, if I may say so myself. He kicks some serious ass. He designs the kind of covers that make people turn their heads as they walk by a book display and say “Hey, I wonder what is hiding underneath that hauntingly beautiful cover. I think I’ll pick it up and find out.” His covers change lives. His covers are the envy of other presses. His covers win awards. I have several of them framed and hanging in my office. He is what we call a consummate professional.

Which is why the first time this author mentioned he had “someone” lined up to design the cover of his book I firmly (but kindly) informed him that that wouldn’t be necessary as I was sure our book designer would come up with something high-quality and to his satisfaction.

In one ear and out the other, I suppose.

It’s not that I think his son’s a crappy graphic designer (though he very well may be, considering Author is looking at his work through the lens of a doting father). It’s just that designing book covers is an art and a science and it requires… experience. And I will be mortified if I agree to let his son be responsible for the design and it comes out looking like one of those self-published book covers that was clearly made in an outdated version of Photoshop, complete with lens flares and a stupid font (“Sanskrit-like font”? What the hell is that? I sure as fuck hope he doesn’t mean Papyrus). And before anyone decides to jump on any perceived slight to self-published books, or tell me “Don’t you mean some self-published book covers?” (yes, that is what I mean), I will direct you to this really rather excellent post from Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds.

Exhibit A, for those of you who are worried that I’m talking about your self-published book cover. And Exhibits B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, and M.

So you see what has me worried. And it would no doubt offend Book Designer’s professional sensibilities if I suggested he collaborate with Author’s graphic designer son… which is still what I’ll probably end up doing just to avoid conflict all around. We’ll have the son make some mock-ups to “inform” Book Designer’s final draft. The son will get credited for some design work, he’ll have something for his portfolio, and I’ll still end up with a professional cover. 

But still… did I miss something here? Isn’t a jacket designed by a professional book designer one of the things authors look forward to when they work with a publishing house? I don’t… I just… why is this happening to me? 

Filed under Publishing Query Quagmire Book covers book designer Authors can be so cute sometimes.

  1. celdaran said: I got a kick out of the fact that Chuck Wendig’s fake book cover used Papyrus.
  2. oliviawaite said: Hercules Bantas has a lot to answer for.
  3. returnandfetch said: i mean, you have to know the “sanskrit-like font” is definitely papyrus.
  4. queryquagmire posted this