Creating a Book Cover

Publicist note from Zachary Vietz

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when designing a book cover? There is a lot of planning, design, and deliberation going on before a cover makes its debut appearance.

Let’s take a sneak peek.

The Creative Brief

Before anything concrete takes form, the book team first reads the title a few times, taking notes of emotions, imagery, symbols, colors, and other touchstone and descriptive aspects from the story. These notes are used to make a creative brief that is then sent along to our designer. The book team might be just Dr. Kelley and me, but as a teaching press, we have our fair share of book teams comprised of students in our publishing courses at NDSU.

Here you can see parts of a creative brief, the book team being NDSU Publishing students, made for our upcoming title Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler:

Colors that came to mind are:

    • pale yellow gold
    • dark green, but not a healthy green
    • red/violence/blood
    • red of sandhill crane/red crest on face

Sensory imagery:

    • cypress trees
    • use of manure for insulation
    • oppressive swamp bugs
    • boils and wounds
    • man’s eyeball the size of a softball (from being beaten)
    • sand hill cranes
    • trains, train tracks, roads

From the Designer to the Team

Once we send the creative brief to the designers, we let them do their artistic thing. Depending on how many projects a designer has, we expect to see draft designs within a few weeks. The book team will first receive from the designer around three potential cover images to look over. The job of the book team at this point is to choose what they do and do not like about the cover images, how they may be improved, and other design aspects as appropriate. Keep in mind, these initial images are not the finished product, and the team’s feedback helps to shape the final cover image.

Here you can see some of the initial cover images sent to us by our very own award-winning designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen:

The Final Product

After receiving our feedback, the designer goes to work and eventually comes to us with a finished product. This is the culmination of the book team reading over and distilling the main concepts and emotion from the title, and a skilled designer who can put our words and concepts into imagery.

It is quite the pairing of skills, and you can see the results below. We hope you like it.

HalfTerribleThings-Front

Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler will be available in November 2020.

 

Zach
This article is contributed by Zachary Vietz, Graduate Assistant in Publishing. Zach specializes in publicity and marketing. He is now in the third semester of his Master’s in English program at North Dakota State University.  

Apple in the Middle Wins National Recognition

Our first publication in the NDSU Press Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, Apple in the Middle, by author Dawn Quigley, has won national recognition from the American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA).

The inaugural AILA award, which will be announced in even years, identifies and honors the best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. This new award joins other long-standing awards–such as the John Newberry Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal–under the umbrella of the ALA.

Apple_Dawn Quigley

Dawn Quigley, author of award-winning Apple in the Middle (NDSU Press 2018) / Photo by Brook Wood, http://www.tadpolephoto.com

Dawn Quigley, with her debut novel, is in fine company with three other authors–all four recognized as the first-ever American Indian Youth Literature Young Adult Book Honor winners:

  • Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) (Highwater Press);
  • Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk) (Inhabit);
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, written by Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza, adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press);
  • and Apple in the Middle, written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) (North Dakota State University Press)

The first place winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the Young Adult category is Hearts Unbroken, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) (Candlewick Press).

Dawn Quigley writes, “So honored that NDSU Press and Suzzanne Kelley said ‘Yes’ to my book, Apple in the Middle!! Miigwech to everyone at the press who worked on this…And the amazing cover art by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen!”

Within minutes of the announcement, our NDSU Press office began receiving phone calls with congratulations and book orders. We are SO PLEASED for Dawn and for this incredible attention to the North Dakota State University Press.

9781946163073

Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley / Cover illustration and design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen / Interior design by Deb Tanner

Regional and national articles featuring an announcement about our newest NDSU Press award:

Publishers Weekly

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Minneapolis Star Tribune

National, Regional, and State Awards

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Our publishing year has been phenomenal, with record-breaking sales and national, regional, and even state book awards that have us all marveling at our good fortune. Check out this list just for 2018:
  • Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction–General, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award: Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley
  • First Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Third Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape, by William Caraher and Bret Weber
  • Gold Medalist, IPPY Awards, Cover Design: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones; cover design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen
  • Bronze Medalist for Midwest–Best Regional Nonfiction, IPPY Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Bronze Medalist for Science, IPPY Awards: North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy, by John P. Bluemle
  • Finalist, Autobiography/Memoir, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), LGBT Nonfiction, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books, Midwest Book Awards: Music at NDSU, by Robert Groves
  • Finalist (of three), Fiction–Literary/Contemporary/Historical, Midwest Book Awards: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic, Translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards: Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota, 2nd Edition, by William C. Sherman, new Introduction by Thomas D. Isern
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards:The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Total Book Design (of three), Midwest Book Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson; cover and interior design by Deb Tanner
Sydney Olstad and Suzzanne at IPPYS

Sydney Olstad (at left)–a graduate of NDSU and one of the publishing students (now working as a copywriter in New York!) who worked on the book team for Derby Girl: A Memoir and NDSU Press Editor in Chief Dr. Suzzanne Kelley, bringing home the Gold and Bronze from the Independent Publisher  Book Awards Gala (IPPY), May 28, 2018, at The Copacabana, NYC.  Joining in the fun were cover designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen, author Sammi Jones, and Hayley Burdett, contract manager and former publishing student now working in New Jersey with literary agents and “the Big Five” publishing houses. Photo by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen.

 

 

Fourteen Finalists & Award Winners

One of these days, we’ll have blog posts about something else, but these last few months have been bursting with good news in recognition. We are just three years out in our revamped & revised publishing program, and somehow–not by accident, but by seeking and publishing phenomenal manuscripts–we have raked in fourteen notes of merit this year. Our list of publications for 2016 and 2017 is being recognized this spring for the following international, national, and regional awards, the first four–from Independent Press Award–were just announced today. Don’t try to hold your breath while reading them, because the list is too long. We are a little breathless ourselves.

2018 Independent Press Award

  • Winner, Literary Fiction: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic; translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Winner, LGBTQ Non-fiction: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Distinguished Favorite, LGBTQ Fiction: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic, translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Distinguished Favorite, Women’s Issues: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones

2018 IPPY Awards

  • Gold, Cover Design: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones; Cover design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen
  • Bronze, Midwest–Best Regional Non-fiction: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson
  • Bronze, Science: North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy, by John P. Bluemle

2018 Foreword INDIES Awards (winners to be announced in June)

  • Finalist, Autobiography/Memoir: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist, LGBT Non-fiction: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones

2018 Midwest Book Awards (winners to be announced in May)

  • Finalist, Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books: Music at NDSU, by Robert Groves
  • Finalist, Fiction–Literary/Contemporary/Historical: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic; translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Finalist, Social Science/Political/Culture: Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota, 2nd Edition, by William C. Sherman; new introduction by Thomas D. Isern
  • Finalist, Social Science/Political/Culture: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson
  • Finalist, Total Book Design: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson; designed by Deb Tanner

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR AUTHORS, DESIGNERS, IN-HOUSE STAFF & INTERNS, AND OUR EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD. WE’RE SHOWING HOW NDSU PRESS GIVES VOICE TO REGION!