Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cover Me! - Guest blog post by Lennart Guldbrandsson

Write and sell are the themes of Lennart Guldbrandsson's book Write Like a Pro.

This is a guest blog post by author Lennart Guldbrandsson. Lennart writes about how we made the cover for his 10th book Skriv som ett proffs (Write Like a Pro).

I'm leaving the word to Lennart:

During late spring, my book started to shape up nicely. I would definitely make my deadline and have it printed and ready for the massive Gothenburg Book Fair. What was still missing was a good cover. Indeed, what was missing was even a good idea for a book cover.

This was my 10th book but for various reasons my earlier books didn't have as much pressure on them. The first books were private affairs which meant that I did the covers myself. The others were books that I ghost wrote for others, which meant that other people designed the covers.

But this book was something else. It was a commissioned book – and it was a guide about writing and getting your book sold. That meant that everyting about the book needed to be above reproach. No typos. Good typesetting. A really great text on the back cover. And a kick-ass cover.

I didn't even have to think about whom I would turn to for such a cover photo. I have been photographed hovering, with several clones of myself, and hiding impossibly behind a thin tree, and more.

Memorable photos, all, by Henrik Mårtensson.

Meeting with Henrik at the Gothenburg City Library, we talked a lot about different possible effects that a book about writing could have on its cover. But our meetings became something more. They came to change my thinking about my book. I discovered that I needed to know more about my book – what tone did it have? What did I hope to accomplish? What feeling did I want to convey? Really detailed thoughts.

Writing a book, for anyone who haven't done it, is a time-consuming project, and even if you've done it several times, you always learn new things. But these talks with Henrik were some of the most enlightening moments of my writing career.

We browsed through several sections of the library, picking up books here and there, dissecting good and bad cover photos alike. We combined ideas, writing down and sketching rough cover photo designs. There were several times I just wanted the process to be over, ”just take a picture and let's be done with it”. But then we had another brilliant idea. And another.

Naturally, we tested a lot of alternatives. Could we imitate that photo that we found online? Could we get that effect to work? All the while, thinking about tying it to the analysis of my book, so that the photo would tell the same story that the book itself did. Could we illustrate that well enough?

All that work did pay off, handsomely. When we were ready to take the photos, we knew exactly what we wanted and what we needed to do on set. It minimized the time to shoot the photos, so that it almost felt anticlimactic. Setting up the scene, lighting the set, focusing the camera and then clicking away until we got a winner took a lot less time than you'd expect considering that we had not only one but two effects in the same photo.

It didn't take long for Henrik to perform his photo manipulation magic on the cover photo. In the end I think I gave him two comments on the photo about things to change, and since we were already on the same page about the tone and goal, he had already started working on those changes before I even asked. It once again proved that all that preparation stuff paid off.

In the process of taking the photos for my book cover my appreciation for the difficulties and possibilities of portrait photography has increased immensly. As has my respect for Henrik as a photographer. And I really look forward to next time. Better start working on book eleven!

–Lennart Guldbrandsson

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A note from Henrik:
Lennart's excellent book can be bought from any good bookstore in Sweden. If you want to buy it online, I suggest you try:

Print version
Adlibris
Bokus

eBook version
Dito
Bokon