As both a writer and a designer, there’s probably no project in the world I like doing more than designing book covers.
I’ve done it for private clients, for academic clients, for local firms and global print publishers. I’ve worked with print-on-demand publishing houses like Amazon’s Createspace and Lulu and created ebook jackets for Kindle and Nook.
Sometime I’ve even done the cover first and then written the text myself! In the case of the cover on the left, I originally came up with the image in order to use it for a flyer publicizing a course on writer’s block that I was giving. But the course inspired a book I’ve finished and am currently editing. When it’s ready to run, I have that cover reserved for it.
Below are some recent (and a few not-so-recent) book covers that I’ve done. Have a look.
And if you’re wondering if I’m available to do a book cover for you personally — I’m always available to do a book cover. (Though maybe not always right away. But I welcome inquiries.)
Contact me to find out more.
Author Frank J. Edwards, M.D.
Frank J. Edwards is the author of two five-star rated medical thrillers and the next Robin Cook. I had the privilege of publishing his first two novels in the Jack Forester series, Final Mercy and the just released Reap. His next book, The Problem With Zero, is already designed.
The Bronx County Historical Society
The Bronx has been at the center of American History since before the Revolution, and the Bronx County Historical Society celebrates that heritage in ways ranging from tours, radio, cable TV, concerts, expeditions, lectures, and art shows to — of course — publishing some of the best scholarly and popular publications anywhere that have the Bronx as its subject.
This cover was also a challenge because the one same cover had to a very wide range of historical subjects relating to the Bronx.
Eventually we settled on an evocative old 1882 print that seemed to catch the essence of the place. With just a little image modification, classics like The New Parks Above The Harlem above, rolled off the presses.
The cover below was created for one of Canada’s finest colleges: McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
It was for a University Library project to reprint classic editions, and it’s particular favorite of mine, because the first book in the series was H. G. Well’s The Time Machine, the first book I ever read.
The project was interesting too because it involved making another series cover — a cover that can serve as the book jacket for every book in the series. And the scholarly series that might emerge from McMaster University Library’s extraordinarily rich selection of books was immense.
If you can imagine designing a cover that can fit Newton’s Principia, Dracula, and Winnie The Pooh, you begin to see the challenge.
Fortunately McMaster is a beautiful university — full of green boughs, noble naves, and scholarly ivies. A photo of one of their doorways, suitably photoshop’d to a give it a watercolor feel, atop a stately Trajan font, provided a solution.
Working with the people of McMaster University on the project was an added pleasure. I found myself becoming quite a fan of the institution (and their Library).
The next cover was commissioned by r-spec, a writer’s group working in conjunction with Big Pencil Press. The idea was to take a major Northeastern American city and give eighteen fictional treatments of what that urban future might be. An interesting project, with implications for every city in the globe.
This became something of a pet project with me, and I ended up designing not only a series of variant covers that were very different from the final pick, but also laying out the whole book. Below are three of the rejected covers (which I kind of liked).
Below are a few covers for the Kirtas Classics Series.
Their digitization devices could capture digital images from bound documents with a speed and quality unmatched by any other equipment. Their clients included universities, libraries, governments, publishers, and institutions ranging from Microsoft to the British Library to Moscow University to Yale to the Library of Congress itself.
So when the firm liked my work on their web site and decided to make me Graphic Designer, one of my first glorious tasks was to create their own line of classic publications.
The initial covers were designed to be generic; that is, one cover was intended to serve as the jacket for various books in the same general subject area — history, art, classics, and so on. Here are a few of the first templates I created. The first template (above) was for books related to the arts. The cover below is for the Culinary Series:
The next three below were for the Civil War Series:
And last, but not least, this one was a discarded sketch for Johns Hopkins University. Alas, it didn’t even go up for approval! But it hit the medical-academic note quite well, I thought.
This jacket was originally for a book regarded as something of a mix between espionage fiction and experimental literary fiction by a poet and author with East german roots. This first cover led to a few more, but so far the books aren’t on the book shelves yet.
Rochester Poetry Group
After I had given a talk to writer’s group in Rochester, New York, someone suggested that it would be nice to get a selection of Rochester poets together and do a print anthology. I agreed. Eons passed.
Then while talking to another local poet suddenly the idea of the cover to the left hit me, and before I knew it I had come up with the cover and saved it to disk. …And that’s where it sits to this day.
(By the way. The title lines? By Charles Bukowski, of course.)
Most book covers go through a long process during which input is given and incorporated, original ideas are modified (sometimes beyond recognition). Sometimes a cover may be shot down for reasons unknown, or just plain have to wait a long, long time till the writers finish the text. Normally one shrugs and presses delete… but there’s just something about the covers below. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find a home one of these days. Till they do, here they are — along with a little glimpse inside the design workshop:
I had gotten an assignment to do covers for a series of classics for Toronto University, and I assumed each classic would have it’s own jacket. So I started with a few variations on War And Peace. Unfortunately the client decided to go with one generic cover for all, and my Napolean covers encountered Waterloo.
Fragedogen. A German author’s memoir of World War I and World War II
American Dhammapada — An unpublished detective novel
A science fiction collection from the fascinating Colin Trafford:
“Paris Noir” – The title says it all.
An upcoming jacket for the next work by Thelonious Punc — assuming he can ever find the time to publish the first one. Punc! Move it!
A critical overview of Soviet science fiction
“Good Lord, Pascal! Are all your book covers so dark and icky? Can’t you do something commercial? Romantic, even?” Well, since you asked, the first volume below proved quite a financial success for the client. The second never quite got the OK for a romantic fiction, but it does has that romance novel feel, I think. The white space was reserved for the author name; but just leaving it blank gives the image a certain something, don’t you agree?
And, not least or last, a personal sketch for a cover for The Ugly Swans by the great Strugatsky brothers, a particular favorite of mine.
This is a proposed cover I did for an anthology of science fiction set in Rochester, New York. The politically correct editor insisted on no sexy females, no nudity, no post-apocalyptic landscape, no grey zombie flesh, etc. etc. Of course I broke all the rules. Thumbs down on this one!
And then there’s this beauty. What classic psychology text was better accoutered? (Forgive me, B. F.)
Editorial Services, Book Design
Client: Center for Virtual Worlds and Education Research
Now there’s a large and important difference between book covers, and book design. Boo design involves laying out the book page by page, picking the fonts, deciding what the margins should be, where to put the dedication and references and indes and all that. It is intricate, important, and tricky. It’s also not very easy to give you an example of such design without giving you the actual book.
So here you are! A free book, designed by David Pascal, just for you.
The story behind this particular volume? Not long ago a number of academicians and others interested in virtual worlds and education decided to put together a formal peer-reviewed journal. I became managing editor throughout the creation of the first issue, and one of my duties was the actual creation of a print and digital version of that first issue. This I did. It was decided to release it free to the public in order to get attention for the journal and the subject. You can download the full 213-page digital version here.
It isn’t the first academic publication I worked on, or the last I’m likely to do, but the criteria was certainly pretty stringent on this one, and it’s the only full book I’ve done that I can provide for your inspection free of charge. So download away, and happy reading.
More recent work? Here are three digital covers for upcoming works by science fiction writer Colin Trafford:
And what better note for an artist to end on than ego? More covers will be arriving in time, no doubt. If you’re interesting in getting one yourself, get in touch here.- David