The Sloppy First Design Draft

Parisian Phoenix’s Art Director and I have an unusual relationship. I usually hand her the text and give her freedom and very seldom does she have an idea that makes me say no. Trapped is a magnificent example. Gayle somehow connected the author of Trapped, Seneca Blue, with our photographer, Joan Zachary, and thought Joan’s citizens of Plastiqueville could serve as cover models for the story, but then somehow we got to this concept of interior photographs as well.

I even ended up buying a fancy miniature skunk for Plastiqueville.

To buy a copy of Trapped, you can visit Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon or Bookshop.org (which allows you to support your local independent bookseller). Or you can email me at angel@parisianphoenix.com and with a Paypal payment of $15, I will mail you an author signed copy of the book (within the continental United States).

I am not an artist. I have no understanding of a straight line. And I certainly do not have Gayle’s love and understanding of type and book design.

So I love giving Gayle this freedom, even if sometimes she worries that some of her designs “look like Tetris.” I mean, I guess the cover has a Tetris vibe, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Gayle and I have worked together a long time, more than two decades. She’s taught me everything I know about graphic design. And although I have no natural talent in this arena, it’s one I have had to navigate. I’ve laid out newspapers, newsletters, posters and goodness knows what else over the years. She’s taught me software that doesn’t even exist anymore.

She’s taught me enough that I can use a template, perform basic design, and get into trouble. And she’s always a text, phone call or email away if I can’t get out of trouble.

When the cat book recently got divided into two projects (The FURR itty-bitty “how to cat” book and As the FURR Flies), we had to reconfigure our concept for the original book. The “how to” informative non-fiction would be presented in a fun, whimsical cat care manual, while the stories of rescuers and cats would be moved to the later anthology. As usual, Gayle did not disappoint.

But in splitting the single manuscript into two books, I sent the book to design without realizing that much of the text wasn’t as stand-alone as I originally thought and needed heavy edits. I prematurely sent the book into design because I needed a rough idea of what the book would look like to decide what needed to be in it.

The book stands now as a dummy of what it will be in the future, but it wouldn’t be fair to Gayle to start editing and changing the copy. To make the edits I need to make while still monitoring what I want the final book to look like, Gayle has lent me her laptop (because as an editor I don’t have InDesign on mine). This allows me to make the necessary changes myself.

Of course, this also means I could completely mess up her preliminary file. But this is why I’m taking a pass at the text now, before she makes the book look all pretty.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother

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