The art of the cover
Last spring I received the proposed cover art for Touchstone (which I would post here if anyone could teach me how to do that, but since no one has figured it out on this machine all I can do is link to it. Sigh.)
The cover was flat-out gorgeous, eye-catching and evocative. That cover was done by my publisherâ€™s art director, Jamie Warren Youll. I thought you might like to hear from her about the process.
LRK: Could you give me a little bio–your background, your position in Random House, and how you got there?
JWY: I graduated with a Bachelorâ€™s degree in a special program through the CUNY Baccalaureate program. I was able to design my own study program which enabled me to study at multiple schools throughout Manhattan…Hunter College, School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Art and the Turtle Bay School. Bantam Books was my third job in Publishing and Iâ€™ve worked there ever since. I worked my way up to my present position of art director.
LRK: What’s your favorite part of the job? Your least favorite?
JWY: I love the creative end of designing the book covers, and I really like
reading the manuscripts. Iâ€™ve always adored reading since I was able to
learn the alphabet.
My least favorite thing is getting an idea turned down, kind of depressing,
but you just start over again, and the deadlines can get pretty stressful.
LRK. How long before a book’s scheduled publication do you start work? What are the time considerations here?
JWY: The normal time for getting my covers done is dependent on the catalogue dates. We put out a catalogue three times a year and the catalogue is printed a year in advance of the actual book on the shelf. I usually have
about two months to work on my list of covers for the catalogue…thatâ€™s
just the hardcover and trades, I am also working on a list of mass markets,
half of which are originals and half pick-ups from the initial,larger size
editions. So basically I have two months to read, do concepts and hire
artists, then design type and do the mechanicals for all the hard covers,
and trades and then another two months to finish up the mass-market
mechanicals. Of course, in these last two months, I am all ready starting on
the next catalogue deadline. I’m pretty busy–and never bored!
LRK: How much do you know about the book when you start creating its jacket? Have you read a partial manuscript, or merely the description?
JWY: Sometimes I have a full manuscript, sometimes just an outline…it depends on what the author has sent. In several cases, just so I can get an accurate feel for the text, the author has sent me the manuscript in very rough form, as long as I’ve promised not to show it to the editor yet. A few years ago I actually called the author to discuss a book that he hadnâ€™t even started, because I needed a cover for the catalogue.