I hail from the film world. Something I've discovered is most moviegoers tend to forget after a film ends that all those names in the credits are actual human beings. It's easy to think of them as shadow people. After all, most of us will never have the chance to meet them, nor ask what it was like to work on such productions.
I've found books to be much the same. Truth be told, I used to skip straight to the story, rather than look at the credits page.
I know better now.
In preparing Salted for its release, I've been blessed with an amazing team of talented individuals and their unique talents. Today, I have a special treat for you! Interior book designer, cover designer, and technical wizard are but a few of her titles. Meet Valerie Bellamy, the interior book designer and formatter of Salted.
You’re a woman of many talents. You offer services ranging from cover design, interior book design and formatting, and even marketing materials. Which is your favorite to do and why?
Oooh, good question! It really depends on what kind of mood I’m in and what part of my brain is kicked into high gear. Cover design, especially conceptual design, is very creative and free, where working on book interiors and marketing materials is very detail oriented.
I seem to work in cycles. Right now, I’m doing a lot of book interiors, but three months ago, it was almost all covers. I’ve been lucky that every time I feel I need a break from one, the Universe sends me the other to balance everything out.
Obligatory question: What’s your fave part about book and cover design?
The short answer: It makes my soul happy.
The long answer: I love making my clients yell at me in emails, telling me how much they love the design. I’ve even made at least one client cry (in a good way). I learn new things with every project…a different way to do something, a new Photoshop technique. I’m always learning and growing.
What song best describes a day in the life of a book and cover designer?
If you could meet any character in fiction, whom would it be and why?
That’s tough. I have so many favorite characters. Right now, I’ve been thinking of dusting off and re-reading the The Elenium series by David Eddings. Hanging with Sparhawk would be pretty cool.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Should have been a science chick. - that’s a working title.
What’s the favorite cover you’ve designed?
The cheeky answer is the last one.
I love all my covers for different reasons, but some of my personal favorites are: Athena's Promise by Annetta Ribken (reissue), Horizon by Patti Larsen (not yet released), Sassafras by Patti Larsen (more for Patti's reaction when I presented the mock cover to her...she cried), The Great Liars by Jerry Jay Carroll (Jerry was my first New York Times Bestselling Author client), The House Mystery by Lisa Cameron, and PEI Writes 2013 Anthology, edited by Patti Larsen and Colleen McKie.
What is it like dealing with writer personalities all the time?
Not really different from working with copywriters, art directors and creative directors in advertising. Each author is different and comes with a unique set of challenges, desires and expectations. The fun is getting to know them and what makes them tick. Luckily we start our relationship talking about their passion, their creation, so it's usually easy to get authors to open up.
Where do you look for inspiration when designing a cover or the book interior?
I start with a conversation with the author. Then, I like to go to the text. Not that I read the book cover to cover, but I do like to read a chapter or two to get a feeling for tone.
Then, lots of research.
I always try to tie artwork back to something real or meaningful. I typically move to a free association or brainstorm, trying different ideas that stuck in my head or ideas that I imagine visually until I get a couple of options that are working for me. When all else fails, I try turning to another creative outlet (like photography or playing my harp) until my subconscious has worked out the solution to the problem.
Take the interior of Salted and the design that went to print. The first line really stuck in my head.
From there, I thought about what it would feel like to be oppressed like those Salted were, what that would look like. The idea of being stuck under water came to mind, and from there, the idea to start the chapters under some ominous-looking water to hint at that oppressive feeling.
Tell anyone seeking your services what you look for in an ideal client.
The ideal client has done their homework. They know their genre and their audience. They are not afraid to ask lots of questions. They are always learning. They also know how they like to work. Hopefully they have an idea of what they like and have looked at my work, but if not, that's ok too.
I work with many different authors–some have no idea what they want and look for me to conceptualize a cover for them. Other know exactly what they want and can articulate it, so I basically build the cover as they have described, tying to add a couple of small details that improve the cover along the way.
The best relationship between an author and a designer is a partnership based on mutual respect and trust. Designing in a vacuum rarely works. Honest feedback and open discussion will always make for a better product.
Have anything you’d like to plug?
I've recently started blogging regularly, focusing on writing about tips and tricks about design and formatting as well as larger topics that affect self-publishing authors. Got a topic you've been meaning to learn more about, but don't have time to sort though all the info? It can be anything relating to the business of self-publishing. Let me know (you can contact me through my website) and I'll do the research for you and write about it in an upcoming blog post.
The official bio reads “Valerie has worked for over twenty years as a graphic designer, production artist, print buyer, and production and project manager in printing and advertising/marketing.”
Translation: Valerie has spent twenty years on-the-job training with some of the most awesome and creative advertising, marketing and printing professionals in Canada. Valerie’s passion for great design, branding and books gets all rolled into one package…professional cover and interior layouts for indie authors and small presses/publishers.
Valerie feels blessed to live and work on the breathtaking east coast of Canada, just steps away from the ocean, with her incredibly patient and supportive husband.
(photo credit: digitalbuild.ca)
You can check out Valerie's blog and work samples here, or connect with her on Facebook.
Author. Actor. Rascal.