Help me Write my BookWill you help me write my book?
It' true, but that's not helping you right now, is it?
Like Designing Covers for my textbooks will help me compose them
When I tell other authors that my editor is kind enough to let me make my own cover, the response I get is usually something like "Wow, that's great, I wish I could do that. "And when I say the same to the guys who work in the publishers business, especially outside Norway, they usually get very restless, followed by a grin that isn't really a grin, but a defensive device to buy them a moment while they find out why they were thinking all of a sudden about that chestnut in Lars von Trier's film Antichrist (the one who "rules chaos").
It' as if they just overheard me say that I'm considering a coup as they all of a sudden imagine more authors having this ridiculous notion and the wonderful universe of the crap and bad sells they are leading. Though I am the first cause of their suspicions of threatening crap, they never seem to accuse me of anything personal, at least not at this time, but my editor, who obviously has no understanding of how important it is to really leave books or ANYONE else as long as it's not the liter.
I' m not a printmaker. Let's be clear about this, out of consideration for skilled graphics artists. I am a belletrist who also does graphics designs. For 16 years I have been doing graphics designs and create not only my own books, but from now on also commissions: booksheets, albums, movies and more.
The anti-aircraft gun I got from real printmakers was quite extinct, and when I won a prize from Grafill (the Norwegian Designer Guild) for the 2015 Edition of my novel Max, Mischa & The Tet Offensive (which, apart from the super-stable, hand-assembled East Europe carton, which was made of a 5-foot poster design bookset in accrual design stile, was a few double-sided uprights, so I had to take a look at it,
is a 200-page, full-color work that looks like one of the catalogs of the heroine Whitney Museum Retrospective, featuring a replica of about 70 of her works and a few long essay articles in the border lingua franca of contemporary critics, and of course the 1,100-page novel itself), I felt a little more than a graphic upset.
Since I began to write, I have been interested in what a textbook looks like, how the cover and typographic features, if you give it the right and appropriate care, can do something that is not just a textbook, but an item in itself, something more..... all. One of the first works that inseparably linked me to his creation as a work of literature was the collection of the 60s and 1970s work of the famous writer Jan Erik Vold.
Influenced by music and his compositorial liberty, his poems always appeared in a quadratic form, a smooth binding with large keys (then rather unusual), either by himself or by fellow artists who coincidentally were also pivotal characters of the Norwegian modernism. As I was about 15 years old when I started to write, I invested innumerable lessons in typewriting my poems on a machine that was last maintained in 1966 (after a postmark on the bottom), and then used the same amount of work to design the artwork - usually by handwork, equipped with a pair of pens, a scissor and an adhesive - so I could give or resell my intensively felt poem collection to whoever I threatened to take a copy with me.
With hindsight, I produced these collection not only to become a better author, but also to see how my spelling is integrated in my work. It was as difficult to type then as it is now, and switching back and forth between text and artwork helps me concentrate my typing and navigation to a place where text and the book's appearance become one.
It was not in my interest to develop a theme whose only goal was to be commercially attractive; what I wanted was a front page that would understand what the script was and complete it. The work with artwork alongside typing gave me the skill to think with two minds (and sometimes they had the politeness to talk to each other and shaking hands).
This all made me a better author, more free to take more risks, optimistic in sleeves that could be explained if needed. Protective envelopes that protect against more than just dirt and hold the whole thing together. Usually, when I've collected enough volatile thoughts to put together an ideas for a write job - which then turns into a working name - I begin with the artworking.
Before you even start typing a few words. Thing is, I'm using these first draft layouts to get the idea of the game. I' m not trying to try to sale it to myself, it's more of a way to catch the colour of the text. The last novel I wrote, Max, Mischa & The Tet Offensive, had over a hundred drafts and artwork proposals for the album' s covers, a multitude of drafts that were reviewed between the fall of 2009 (when I began writing) and the fall of 2015.
Cleveland, Hansen, then back to Max, Mischa & The Tet Offensive, then, for almost a year in 2013, Rothko Days, before she returns to Max, Mischa.... When I look at her now, it's like I' m going to read a journal about the writein' progress and see how and when I fought to find out what became of the novel.
Furthermore, the various drafts and drafts tell me where I wrote and what was most important to me at a certain point in my life, since different motives from the novel (e.g. leaf blowers) appeared on the envelopes. Those pictorial repetitions help me drive the game forward, a sound frame that gave me the liberty to research idea in my work.
Even the styling is simple. However, if typing seems to be an impractical upward struggle, I will allow myself a few extra day (or days) to just hear a piece of the story and create the cover of a volume that I will never do. Is not to say graphical styling is something to be taken easily - I come across material all the times I could never do or would have to be spending serious amount of material on to find out.
To put it another way, the change between writings and figures is one way to conjure Han Solo's words of wisdom: In comparison to almost pure calligraphic type, it is primarily meant as optical, three-dimensional work, which is often simpler for me. Making the same adaptations to a coat can be a lot of the same for and against the store, except much quicker, and is therefore often a welcome change from the dry work of typing.
As a rule, the eyes are a yes-or-no type, while the speech section of the mind is a safer but not quite confident type. One of the problems with writing is that it can take a long while to figure out what works (and sometimes you never quite do it, even not long after a work is out there).
Genuine graphics artists can oppose this exaggerated simplification and be forced into force, while they explain why graphics is actually more complicated and complicated than typing. The fact that I find typing tougher and more complicated (more worthwhile in the long run, even if the designs are better for immediate satisfaction) doesn't make it more honourable to be spending more or less of it.
Because it gives me a pause from thought in words, I really enjoy it. To make matters worse, the different stores have their own aesthetic of design: usually a different kind of artwork is used for translating text. For example, a British version of an US novel will look very, very different from the US version, even if not a word or decimal point has been modified in the actual work.
Most of the French titles will replace their meticulous execution with generically written types, as this works in France. I' ve ceased convincing my international editors to use my originals, and in the few cases where they use even a part of them, I'm amazed. Some of my fiction have been written, each with almost twenty different drafts; the denish style has no similarity to the austrian or austrian and the spanish and the german and the dutch could not be further apart.
But on the other side, I think the vast majority of authors do not really bother about what their books' cover looks like. So if you are a novelist and have no interest in graphics or if you think that Photoshop is a software that creates your movies for you, then I have no problems with it.
I need you to concentrate on your typing, it's difficult enough. However, what I find almost funny are authors who make great efforts to tell the rest of the word how suspicious they are of anyone who cares about what their novel looks like - it is not possible to have two thoughts in mind simultaneously or to see it as part of the work itself - and that they don't really give any personal attention to what their works look like when they are released (and that a novelist should be a novelist and nothing but a novelist, and if you are a novelist who sometimes thinks about other things than literature, then you are not really a novelist.
Several of them are great authors. Sometimes I daydream of being asked to create their next volume and just poke around some simple images of sweet kitties and comic sans to see how they would respond. It was a little accident how I could create the jacket for my own work.
Before that, I had been asking myself for two years what the work would look like if I could ever publish it. At the time the agreement was made, I began to sketch and develop my own idea for the coat because I knew very well that there was no way to create it myself, but I wanted to present a plan to the artist that he or she could then extend.
However, the definitive layout was in order. He probably did it in retrospect because he didn't have enough spare minute to come up with a better one. However, it gave me a (false) faith in my own capacity to develop a useful desig. When Gyldendal's chief designers phoned me to ask about the meeting with the designers, I candidly recounted to him the post-design, stress-disorder-inducing whiteboard campaign and the commentary of the destination store, the terrible back lid and so on, without realising that I was sounding like a spoilt little megalomaniac.
Somehow this chief fashion artist, Trond Egeland, is his name, somehow got me and felt sick, and the year after, when I had completed my second volume, a compilation of shorts named Ambulance, he phoned me again and asked me if I wanted a different doorman.
After spending a lot of our last talk trying to teach myself how to make my own designs, I told him that I actually have a full artwork, hoping that the one who wanted to make the definitive artwork would take as much as possible from my work.
He remained quiet for a moment and undoubtedly imagined any complaints that I and the artist might make in the near distant past that he was compelled to address this ass-sick author. I have been able to make my own covers without asking and I have built a great rapport with Gyldendal and their in-house creative team, which benefits from their experience and advice in all facets of the work.
So I think (hopefully?) the designer section will enjoy the challenges when I show up and ask if we can do this or if it is possible to get this and that with this and that effect. They seldom interact extensively with authors, so they may appreciate this as much as I do (again, I hope).
Can Gyldendal allow me to create my own booksheets? Easy to say, the first Ambulance sleeve was good enough to show me again. It didn't feel too bad that the product was selling well, as it was a compilation of stories and stuff. When my first novel came out and was selling even better (not necessarily because of the slightly subdued artwork but still ), there was just no need to alter the deal.
What is really not a trade-off does not say in my agreement that I should create the coat; on the contrary, there is a default provision in it that says that I can give my opinion and give my opinion on what is presented to me. However, I' m sure Gyldendal would have been selling more if they had a professionally educated draughtsman who would have made more commercial cover art for my work?
Maybe they let me go my way, which lately contains the inside cover designs and the actual cover designs, the actual size, proposals for papers, layouts and composition, because we both know that they are always free to say no, this is not good enough or no, that costs too much, you can't have it (it happens, but rarely).
When nothing else, because we all know each other and are part of the same staff; we all want to overcome this "just another book" feeling and do something, not just to earn a living, but something that will feel extra for the author as well as for the editor and, we are hoping, for the readers.
I have been using the nickname Lacktr for more than a dozen years. This was mainly due to creating a certain detachment between the writer Johan Harstad and the one who deals with the arts of printmaking. Previous one comes from the new Freeman's Canal at Literary Hub, which will contain extracts from Freeman's printed issues and additional contributions from authors from the past, present and past.
Freeman's, a series of 29 of the best young authors from around the globe, is now available.