'Runaway Empire' Manifesto: entry #4 / by Andrew Yorke

In my last post, I talked about putting together a book trailer for 'Runaway Empire' and all of the challenges that came with it. I suppose I should've started by talking about a more common requirement with most books - designing a book cover.

With the first two works I published, Xteamartists spent a considerable amount of time on the design of the book cover. After all, it's the first thing most people see, and as an author you would like to leave people with a good first impression. To me, it's not just about what's written on the pages. Everything is important. What does the book cover look like? What kind of paper are you going to use? What does the synopsis look like? I did my best with both 'Sharon Tate' and 'Waiting for Love at Airports' to run everything through a fine tooth comb. Concerning the covers, I believe we obtained some pretty good results.

According to some scientists and graphic design experts, this particular shade of brown on the cover of 'Waiting for Love at Airports' induces thoughts and feelings of a more romantic nature among people. Of course, that's only what some say. I honestly have not received any comments about that particular shade of brown. It was an experiment. We ran with it. Who knows?

With the book cover design for 'Runaway Empire', I wanted to bring in someone new to handle the design. Given our initially minuscule budget, there was really only one person I could go to. Thankfully, the guy was a friend of mine, and quite talented as well. That man was Carl Antonowicz.

It really shows how far technology has come in just the last ten years alone. Carl and I had not seen each other in several years when I contacted him via Facebook. Our conversations were always on the side of the bizarre, but it finally steered in the direction of doing a book cover design. Several days and many spontaneous ideas later, we came up with an idea and ran with it.

I wanted the American flag on the cover, and I also wanted to address the theme of alcohol and prescription pill abuse. After all, it is the protagonist who fights both of these demons, and uses that fuel to embark on a journey with a band of intellectual misfits. I also wanted to steer clear of using any imagery which would insinuate Newtown or Sandy Hook Elementary. Because this story was prepared in the immediate aftermath, I did not want to shamelessly exploit that community. It might cost us money in the end, but it's most definitely the right thing to do. Lastly, we needed to show off a 1952 Oldsmobile '98.  It's a pretty big hero in the story. With that outline, Carl's sketches began to pour in. Here's a small selection of them. I won't post all of them. There are way too many.

It's cool looking back on these, seeing how far we came from stage one. But after enough polishing and deliberation, we finally arrived at a book cover design that was accepted by all. In the end, Kevin Michael wanted to take a crack at the whiskey bottle, and surprised us. So much so that we decided to use his bottle with the final design.

One of the reasons I enjoy working in this crazy business is the ability to work with crazy people with crazy ideas that have the ambition of making it more than just an idea. With this book cover, I was glad to see it not only meet my expectations, but surpass them as well. There is only one criticism I have. You see those bluebonnets in the lower left? Well, we wanted to show the countryside in Texas, and bluebonnets are a pretty big staple of the Lone Star State. There's only one problem. This story takes place in December, long after the bluebonnets wither away. An error? Well, perhaps. But in the end, it's one small thing. I can't be that OCD.

This isn't a breakthrough book cover design, but it suited what we needed and satisfied our creative appetites. If you're interested in looking at some really neat book cover designs, you can actually check out a Pinterest board I made. I haven't touched it in probably over a year, but there was a period when I used the platform to look for cool pieces of art. While I didn't collect a library of designs, it still fueled my imagination.

One final note: when Carl worked on his share of the work, he was living in the Northeast. I was in Dallas. We made a book cover using two different time zones. Way too cool.

Until next time!