Welcome to BRB, sweeties. I have a special guest today. And, the reason I say she's special is because it's a rare opportunity, when I can share a different aspect of the publishing industry. There are so many job titles that contribute to publishing. You've got betas, editors, proof readers, book doctors, agents, publicists, and lest we not forget, cover designers. I hope you enjoy!
Tell us about yourself, Nyla.
My doctor calls it hyper-creativity and offered me a pill. I just laughed! I always have projects going, you would think my home was a studio instead of an apartment. If you come visit, I would have to move a half finished oil painting, a mannequin with a dress I am creating for a photo shoot, a multi-media sculpture started more out of necessity than art made up of things that do not fit in my junk drawer, a half a dozen poetry books I am reading, a journal, the box of feathers I am using to make quill pens with, and the clay I am sculpting, just to find the dining room table so we could sit down for coffee. It is probably a good thing this is an online interview. I am a very creative person and I've always enjoyed exploring whatever avenue inspiration takes me. I do not believe in comfort zones because it is only outside of them that you can grow. I like challenging myself and learning new things, because, after all, you never know what you might be able to create until you try it.
How did you become a cover designer?
I have been a graphic artist for a long time. I did promo pieces for my radio programs and local writing events, then others started asking me to do design work for them. I have designed more things than I could possibly list, but mostly I was doing CD covers and concert posters for recording artists. I was approached by an author services company and asked if I would be interested in designing book covers. The thought fascinated me. As a writer myself, and having a background in marketing and advertising, I KNOW the importance of a good book cover, as well as how fast a bad cover can kill a great book. There is a lot of responsibility that comes along with designing a cover for a book and a lot more to creating a design than one might think. It sounded like an incredible challenge! I was in!
As a writer, one of my greatest tools of inspiration is music. Where do you find the most inspiration?
As a writer too, I agree, music is a very potent muse. It is probably the one thing that has inspired more creativity out of me than anything else. With book covers, however, it is a little different. I find inspiration in every aspect that comes into play when creating the design, things that most people might never even consider. When I mentioned before that I thought it would be a challenge, I can say now that I had no clue just what a true challenge it was going to be, or how much I was going to fall in love with the creative process! So in this case, I would have to say the challenge is the greatest source of inspiration!
What is the process to creating a book cover?
There are so many pieces of the puzzle that have to fall into place for a design concept before you even think about the design itself.
I think the fact that I am a writer as well as a photographer, comes into play very heavily with my approach to designing book covers. When I write a story, I can use as many words as it takes to get my point across. (If I use too many, it simply changes from a story to a novel.) Now, if I take the same story idea and write it as a poem, I have to be much more precise in my word choices in order to get the same point across. Were I to take the same idea and instead of writing it use my photography to convey the story, everything changes. I only have one image in which to evoke from within the viewer the same emotional response I get when I write the poem or the story or the book.
When designing a cover, I have to understand the writer, as well as understand what has been written and who it was written for. That is just the beginning: next I must discover what sets that piece of writing apart from everything else it is going to be competing with on the store shelf, and how to get that message across at a glance.
When designing a cover, I take the same approach I do with photography. It is exciting for me, finding just the right way to condense every piece of the puzzle down so that all facets of what makes a successful cover design are addressed. I always want to come up with the exact concept and design that tells someone within a three-second glance that out of every book on display, "This the one you need to pick up, this is just the book you have been looking for!"
I cannot tell you how much I enjoy doing them.
What is your favourite cover to date? Why?
I would have to say Dommemoir, written by I.G. Frederick., for several reasons. I have done several covers for this author, but this is the first one where she simply sent me the manuscript and said create something. Normally I will go over a couple of concept ideas with my clients, but I didn't on this one. At one point she did ask me what ideas I had come up with. Laughing, I asked her to just trust me, that I would have it to her in a couple of days.
What I created was entirely up to me with no input from her whatsoever. It was very cool, in a strange mad scientist sort of way. After reading Dommemoir (which by the way, changed my life forever, and is reflected in the tag line I came up with for the book) I took the elements that touched me, that made the story so powerful, and I went to work on the design. When it was finished, when I hit the send button on the proof, I held my breath, refreshed my email every five minutes, waiting for her reply.
No email came but I did get a phone call. She said "I am so glad you did not try to explain this cover to me before I saw it, I would have fought you every step of the way. But what you've created is perfect, you have, in one image, covered every critical element of the book, without giving away too much. It is absolutely perfect!"
She could have given me no better compliment than that, because that is exactly what I strive for in every cover I design. I love every thing about Dommemoir's cover, and though I love every cover I have ever created, this one is my favorite. It was different than anything I presented to her before, and I was thrilled she was happy with it!
I was even more thrilled when she called me the day after it's release and told me the numbers for the first day's sales. It goes to show you ... a good cover really can make or break a book! Getting the book off the shelf and into someones hands is 90% of the battle. Once they pick it up, the writer's words set the hook. Dommemoir had been released before, but with a cover that made no sense at all and for me had no curb appeal.
Hearing the success of the first day's sales, and having her praise the cover's role in that, was a very satisfying feeling. I take a lot of pride in what I do, it is very fulfilling for me to see my clients happy and successful!
Personal Website: http://www.nylaalisia.net/
Business Website: http://pussycatpress.com/
List which genre(s) you create covers for:
I have yet to find a genre that I didn't enjoy doing covers or promotional support materials for. Each new cover is a journey into literature, design, and someone's dream.
Do you do freelance or not?
I do design work as a freelancer I am available to both indie authors and small presses. My services are fee-only (no royalties) with all rights for work I produce owned by the client. I also am a principal with Pussy Cat Press, which offers elegant cover design for print and electronic books, print and electronic book formatting/design, and web development and design.
In addition to covers, I design support materials and help authors with titles and tag-lines, author portraits, etc. I also do business and concept photography and book illustration work and am available to teach a number of different creative workshops classes.