A Tale of Two Covers: Designing Fables for Leaders

Posted by jlubans on November 28, 2017

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Caption: Because of America's 2016 presidential election we opted not to use this cover; the elephant is symbolic of one of the political parties

One of the benefits of indie publishing is the author’s having more say in a book's design.
I recall early in my writing career authors were not consulted about the cover design or how the book would look.
One of my first books, “Educating the Library User” was a fairly large success for an academic book (over 6000 copies were purchased) but I had no input about the book jacket design. I liked it, but I would not have picked the art work the publisher used.
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Yet, I do like the mauve (pink trying to be purple) fabric binding!
More recently, my "Leading from the Middle" book, was moving full speed ahead in production with no word to me about the cover.
When I inquired, I was shown the most prosaic, functional cover imaginable. A flat dull color for the background and the title along with my name in nondescript type. As dull as any dissertation!
Nothing to pull the reader in, nothing to entice the eye, everything to suggest to the prospective reader, “Why would I want to read this dull and boring book?”.
I persisted and the publisher sent me a half dozen cover suggestions.
All but one was a variation on the soporific.
I opted for the geometrically imaginative one and I am sure that design had much to do with the success of that book.
So, as an indie publisher, I had a lot to say about the cover for Fables for Leaders. And to my good fortune, I was working with the renowned artist
Béatrice Coron and ALISE ŠNĒBAHA as the book’s illustrator and designer. Between the two of them I had a variety of covers and illustrations to choose from.
The final cover itself had 27 iterations of color and placement of text. Yes, 27!
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Caption: Two early versions of cover. One with real people and their totems. And, the other with animals in a meeting room led by (who else?) Leo, the Lion!
The final version (see the masthead for this blog) fired Leo and replaced him with Ozols, the bear drawn from my fable in the book, "The Bear in the Tree".
When I look back over my several books, Fables for Leaders is the one worth collecting as an example of how design and illustration contribute to the purpose of the book.
A visually appealing book, with the right heft, draws the reader in. And, keeping the implied promise, (“You can judge a book by its cover!”) the content adds to the enjoyment of the book.
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Order your copy before the holiday postal stampede!
Find Fables at any number of Internet vendors, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Powell’s Books.
The behemoth Amazon is linked here.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017
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