Project Focus: Dancing on the River by Mark Susnow

by | Jun 3, 2010

Almost exactly a year ago I went to the all-day Get Published! workshop run by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. I met a lot of people that day, and talked at length with Mark Susnow about a book he planned to write and publish. He was thinking of titles, and we talked under a steady drizzle about “Dancing on the River.”

Over the course of the year Mark and I ended up working pretty closely on the development of his book. Mark is a life coach, a former trial lawyer, and a talented writer who’se been publishing an online newsletter for years. Between us we gave the book some shape, and Mark spent months writing and rewriting, working at the end with the editor Joan Kirnser

Now that book is a reality. It’s available from Mark’s Inspire Possibility website, and from Amazon.

Inside the Book

We got to a final design for the interior of the book very quickly. Here’s the final layout, in Bembo and Trajan:

book design typography

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Cover Design Choices

Dancing on the River tells some of Mark’s journey, while distilling lessons that are practical for anyone. Here are the first covers I developed for the book:

mark susnow, book cover design

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I got pretty excited when I found this dreamy river, with its otherworldly glow.

book cover design

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Water, lightness, I really liked this.

book cover design

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I knew some clients would really love this look and the rustic typography. Would Mark?

book cover design

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Another dreamy scene, this reminded me strongly of the upper Hudson River, around West Point.

Along the way, we produced a number of variants of these designs, using the typography with different images. Here’s one that made it to the final round.

book cover design

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I got strongly attached to this design during the process. The interplay between the clear water and the reflections, the clarity of the palette was all very seductive. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with colors against the variegated background, and was never completely happy with the results.

In the end, borrowing the typography from one cover and the image from another, and after a lot of refinement, here’s the final cover as it went to press:

book cover design

Click to enlarge

This year with Mark and Dancing on the River has reminded me again just how satisfying it is to help launch new books, and new self-publishers, on their journey.

Bon Voyage!

Takeaway: Book design is often a collaboration between the designer and the author or publisher. When this collaboration works well, good books are the result.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit



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