It’s summer, and from what I hear from many of my friends outside the Oregon coast, it’s been a hot one.
I remember hot summers. Probably the hottest was the summer I spent in Madrid, Spain, with my father, sister, and best friend. It was 1992, the summer of the World’s Fair in Sevilla and the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. We traveled a lot that summer, but my strongest memory is of passing out on the escalator in a metro station in Madrid. I’ve never handled extreme heat well, and it was 110 degrees that day. The metro wasn’t much cooler, even though it was underground, and it had no air conditioning. Needless to say, our plans for the day were derailed by my fainting. Although, thanks to one aggressive Spanish taxi driver, our adventures were far from over. But that’s another story.
So, I lied. Sort of.
Remember back in May when we announced the one-time cover branding workshop I agreed to teach with Dean Wesley Smith? Well, it turns out that I had quite a bit of fun doing it. So, I told Dean I might consider doing another one if he did, too.
Thus, the one-time Branding Fantasy Covers Workshop was created.
You can read all about it on Dean’s blog (here), but like the last workshop I did, this one will fill up very quickly and then go away. I simply don’t have time to do many of these, much as I enjoy them. So, don’t wait.
It’s no secret that series branding is essential in the publishing business. Well, let me rephrase: It should be no secret that series branding is essential in the publishing business.
But knowing something needs to be done and executing it properly can be two very different things. This is why I’ve started co-teaching cover design workshops again with Dean Wesley Smith. (More about that in the coming weeks…)
We designers have many options for ways to brand a series. Typography is critical. Organization of the elements essential. And consistency with cover art is a non-starter.
And that’s where things get tricky.
WMG Publishing is an international publishing house, despite our location in the United States. So, as we here in the U.S. prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I want to take a moment to say happy Canada Day to our friends, colleagues, and neighbors to the north.
For those of you less familiar with the holiday, as I was, here’s the Wikipedia definition:
“Canada Day is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.”
Happily, these two holidays are also well synced with WMG’s publishing schedule for our latest volumes of Fiction River and Fiction River Presents.
As I write this, I’m just wrapping up Pixiefest, an event I helped create and execute for the Kiwanis Club of Lincoln City as a new fundraiser.
Planning this event—not to mention executing it—has been an adventure. In addition to all sorts of new-event growing pains, our very first day of the event was conducted in 93 degree weather (yes, on the Oregon Coast, where we’re usually in the 60s during the day in the summer). Needless to say, we had not planned for that in our initial preparations.
I was discussing the nature of crime the other day with a colleague. I recently caught someone in a deception and was marveling at the stupidity of people who choose deception over honesty. We’ve all heard of the stupid criminal. It’s one reason why our jails are so full. They just don’t think things through far enough to cover their tracks.
Lucky for the rest of us.
Fortunately, most people are generally smart enough to realize that crime doesn’t pay. Even better, some of the most brilliant among us channel their energy into writing about the crimes they can imagine, and have fictional characters act them out.
Like the amazing collection of authors in the latest Storybundle: The Dark Crimes Bundle, which is curated by New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Those of you who follow this blog with any regularity know that included with my other duties as publisher and CEO of WMG, I am also the lead book designer.
There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is my skill and experience as a designer and my deep love for the design arts.
My design background began with newspaper and magazines but expanded into books when I entered the book publishing business. I have since designed more than 1,000 book covers. I’m regularly approached to do freelance book design, but rarely do I take on a project. I simply don’t have time.
I do teach design workshops for WMG on occasion, but book design is shifting so fast these days, that it can be hard to keep those current.
So, when I announce a new design workshop, interest is usually high. As was the case with my most recent workshop, co-taught with Dean Wesley Smith, called Series Branding.
I’ve always been fascinated by the moon. I love astronomy to begin with, but the moon has so much influence over us and yet remains such a mystery.
As a kid, I wondered whether the moon was made of cheese, or if a man really lived there. As a teenager, I studied the moons phases and its impact on the tides. As an adult—and an observer of human behavior—I pondered its effects on our psyches.
As a cops reporter, I discovered that be it coincidence or scientific fact, the full moon meant more police activity, busier (and crazier) ERs, and a lot more (and certainly more interesting) work for me. As a parent, I learned that my newborn’s temperament seemed to become much less manageable during a full moon. And as a grammarian, I deemed the term “lunatic” to be remarkably appropriate.
As a book publisher, I find the moon fascinating fodder for fiction.
I have never served in a military capacity, so I can only imagine the courage and sacrifice required to do so. It is a quality I admire in many of those I love, including my father, my stepfather, and my partner, John. Both of my dads served in a time of war: my stepfather in the Navy during the Korean War and my father as a forward observer in the Marines during the Vietnam War.
The closest I have come to participating in a military operation is as a reporter monitoring the news wire for word that the second Gulf War had begun and relaying live reports of the carnage.
Even that, at a distance of thousands of miles and safely ensconced behind a computer screen, left its scars. All I will say of that is this: The US media filters your news. A lot. As to whether this is a good or a bad thing: I’m still undecided. Seeing the raw, unfiltered effects of war—even in narrative form—changes you irrevocably. But one thing is absolute: War impacts everyone—especially those who manage to survive it.
I never imagined I’d be a sought-after book cover designer. Heck, I never imagined I’d be a book designer, period.
I never considered myself an artist. I’ve never been particularly good at drawing or painting, and when I was growing up, the concept of computer-based graphic design was still science fiction.
Now, I always wanted to work with books. But I thought it would be on the word end of things. And I do. But the art aspect surprised me.
I didn’t discover my talent for design until graduate school, really. And it led to a master’s degree in not just editing but also design.
Now, I get to use that degree every day. It’s pretty awesome.