STAN TREMBLAY has been working in the publishing industry four years, and since has made waves gathering up clients like US and international phenoms Steve Alten, Jeremy Robinson, and Steven Savile, as well as publishing houses including Borderlands Press and Seven Realms. Assistant Publisher by day at Variance Publishing, and freelance guru by night at FindTheAxis.com, he works tirelessly at making sure all of his clients get a fair shake out there in this cut-throat publishing industry. He lives in New England with his wife and son.
How closely do you work with the author when designing a cover? Do they give you a story description and you run with it, or do they give you specific ideas?
I work very close with authors to make sure their vision is met. I always ask for at least the story description, but always want to know some specific ideas since no one knows the story better than the author. It could be a certain style of gun, a pink tulip instead of a yellow one, or a Buffalo nickel instead of what is used today that brings the validity off the cover and onto the pages of the body, as well as that catches the eye of a person who finds that item of interest in their lives.
What is your process for creating the cover image? Are they hand drawn illustrations or photography?
After getting the description of what the author is looking for, I start looking for stock photography. There are many great photography sites out there that I’m able to use to create one-of-a-kind images. Each cover is made up of at least a dozen or two layers of pictures, colors, textures, and font files that have been blended to create the scene.
What's the difference (if any) between designing a cover for print, and a cover for an e-book?
While creating a cover for print and ebook are simliar (accomplished by eye-catching art theory), the big difference between the two is the size of the file - 300dpi vs. 150dpi. What does that mean to the average author, probably nothing. What does that mean to the average graphic artist, a lot. Dpi, or dots per inch, is the measure of how big the image can get without losing clarity (think about taking Silly Putty and copying your favorite Sunday comic, then stretching that to a size that is double or quadruple the print size without distortion). The larger the file size needed, the more costly the stock photography. So, going back to what that means to the average author, that means you don’t need to get a 300dpi cover image if you aren’t going to print your title. That means you can save money, typically a few hundred less (at least from FindTheAxis.com). BUT - if you have any desire to print it, even a year down the line, go ahead and get the 300dpi print file, it will save you in the long run from having to have someone re-create a new cover image costing you well above the few hundred saved initially.
What, in your opinion is the most important aspect of a cover design?
The most important step for a cover that it be professional! I cannot stress enough that if people think the cover looks bad, looks self-published, or looks like no money was spent on it, they will bypass the book. We all judge ‘books by their covers’, whether it be a person, a car, or of all things a book. People want to be ‘wowed’ from front to back, and until your name becomes a household name that people buy just because you are James Rollins, Jodi Picoult, or Clive Cussler, don’t expect books to fly off the shelves if anything looks sub-par.
Professionally-done covers will cover many bases including
- Color theory
- Proper use of space
- Stylish, smart fonts
I noticed that your pricing is quite competitive. Why is that?
To be honest, I’m not out to rob people blind. I enjoy what I do, I love helping authors and publishers grow, and get an enormous sense of pride in a happy client that has met their goals in a cost-effective manner. I’ve been told many times that I should increase my pricing, but I want to be in a relationship where both parties can be successful while being fair.
You've worked with some big name authors—Steve Alten and Jeremy Robinson—to name a few. What's that been like?
It’s been very enjoyable. They give me plenty of leeway in doing what I have to do to make a successful product. Sure, they have needs and wants just like everyone else, but they know what I am capable of and let me do my thing. Obviously I must be doing something right… they keep coming back for more! With Steve, I run his Character Contests, this current one is to find characters for the follow-up to his smash hit The LOCH, aptly named The LOCH 2, where I keep in contact with and tally results of the contestant’s viral videos. This is my fifth contest as contact. With Jeremy, I’ve done the layout/design for the majority of his self-published interiors, both for print and for e-book.
Daniel S Boucher