What does your job as Art Director entail?
As Art Director for our Transworld publishing division, I have a team of designers who I manage and work with to ensure all book covers are delivered not only to a high standard but on schedule.
How do you come up with cover design ideas and then decide which ones will end up on the bookshelf?
The ideas for the covers come from reading the books and attempting to distil the message of the book into one appealing image. We produce a range of visuals using commissioned or stock photography or illustration. Our ideas and concepts are shown in a weekly ‘book cover meeting’ at which the editor, publisher, sales, marketing and publicity teams discuss what we think is the best approach. We then send it to the author for their thoughts, feedback and ultimate approval.
What’s on your to-do list?
On any given day I have a list of amazing book covers to design. If these books are quite new, I will be reading the manuscript to get a feel for the story or ideas. If I’ve already read them, I will be working on concepts. As part of my job I get to commission illustrators and photographers to produce imagery…so I may also be talking to them about the commission or feeding back my comments about their work.
What’s the best bit about the role?
The best bit is the variety. At Transworld we have a huge range of authors so I may be working on an autobiography, doing a photo shoot with Peter Andre, working with a photographer for the next Jilly Cooper novel, discussing The Straight Jacket cover design with author Matthew Todd, redesigning and commissioning an illustrator for a Terry Pratchett backlist book, finalising the next John Boyne cover or reading the next SJ Watson thriller!
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is being creative within strict deadlines. The contrast between the creativity and aesthetics of a book cover and the requirements of a commercial publishing schedule can be stark.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Penguin Random House?
I get to read manuscripts a year before publication, which is pretty amazing. But also to work within a company where creativity and innovation are at its heart is a dream come true.
Give three words that best describe your average day in the office?
Challenging, creative, satisfying.
What are you reading?
I always have a manuscript for a book I am designing on the go, but I try to juggle with reading a book that is not connected to work too. At the moment I am reading the manuscript for John Boyne’s new book, The Heart’s Invisible Furies which is an amazing story of one man’s life lived through the prism of Ireland’s religious and social history. The non-work book I am currently reading is The Corrections by Jonathan Frantzen.
This interview originally appeared on the Write Now blog in September 2016.