The Secret Life of a Book Cover: An Outside-In Review of ARAM by A.K. Frailey

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Hello reader! I am not a writer. I did get an A+ in English Comp long ago, but truthfully, was instantly revolted when my teacher suggested I look into more English courses in college. See I am already on a tangent!

I am an ARTEEST…specifically a graphic designer, so please excuse my unconventional review of ARAM by Ann Frailey!

Like a lot of artists, I make my living at a less than glamorous 9 to 5 to pay our bills and find my real creative outlet in freelance projects that come my way. ARAM is such a project.

ARAM Front Cover

ARAM Front Cover

ARAM Back Cover
Aram Back Cover

Last Fall, I had the joy of working and getting to know author A.K. Frailey through our mutual relationship with St. Joseph Radio in St. Charles Missouri. I was instantly attracted to this project because I love fiction, and I don’t think there is nearly enough trustworthy books out there to offer my growing boys. Ann is a lover of Tolkien and her first published work “The Road Goes Ever On” is a reflection on the Christian themes in “The Lord of the Rings.” It was the perfect fit for a Lord of the Rings crazed mother of five boys.

ARAM is set in the cradle of civilization as tribes of people move from nomadic ways to agricultural and trading communities. The characters wrestle with the basic human questions of good and evil as well as why we even exist and is there an afterlife. It is full of action and adventure and creates an engaging visual experience of tribal life. I encourage people of all ages to enjoy this work of fiction and the sequel and prequel still to come.

My task on this book was to design the cover and interior and coordinate everything with the printer. I won’t bore you with picking fonts and folio styles because I could go on and on. I’ll just say there are a lot of beautiful fonts in the world and never enough projects to use them all!!! Hopefully when you see the interior you will agree that we picked a great mix to express the pre-biblical setting.

Besides the basic interior, this book has some very special aspects that I would like to reveal to you. We started by doing a basic search online to get on the same visual page for the cover and from the beginning wanted to go with a striking image of nature. It happened however that the author was able to take some amazing photos on a family trip to Alaska and on their mini-farm in Illinois. So with some photoshop magic, I combined the landscapes to reveal the settings the story will encompass.

The wooden craving is of special significance too. It is of course meaningful to the story line but was carved by the authors husband John from a tree root he found. I photographed the actual carving with my sister, a photographer. I blended that into the landscape background to give a feel for the longing for redemption and good that the story reveals by having it lead in from the bottom reaching for the light streaming through the trees.

ARAM was set in the main stylized font that we chose to give a primitive feel to the lettering. I added the texture and color in photoshop to simulate stone. The slight bevel and drop shadow effects add some weight and make it stand out from the background. The author line is set in the secondary stylized font pulling a bright green from the greens to contrast the dark foliage of the ground cover.

One happy coincidence that we found looking at the cover design after we finalized everything is that in the lake there is a little boat on the water. This was not planned by the author who took the photo or I who chose the image to use, but it could easily correspond to specific scenes in the story. You can see it on the front and back of the cover.

The author’s photo was taken by a friend. I faded it into the background color quite a bit because Ann is such a private and humble person by nature that she really didn’t want to stand out. I of course think she is exceptional as a wife to a husband battling cancer and a home-schooling mother of eight beautiful children!

One final detail to reveal. The map that you will find just beyond the title page was drawn by the author’s son. I scanned and cleaned up his original drawing in Photoshop. It of course give the reader a visual of the setting and harkens to the author and her families love of Tolkien’s work. I used one of the trees from the map to create the family tree for your reference at the end of the book.

Well that wraps up my visual review of ARAM. Please go to Ann’s website and blog for some better insights on her writing and the continuing story still to come: www.akfrailey.com.

Also if you are headed to the CNMC or Catholic Writer’s Guild Conference this August, please hunt down my friend and author Ann. She will be there promoting ARAM which got a CWG Seal of Approval this spring and helping with the conference. And please say “Hi” to Lisa Hendey too, who I meet last year at the CNMC in Kansas City. Alas Texas is not in my future this year, but you might hear my voice or feedback on an SQPN podcast if you are a junky like me!

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Trese Gloriod is wife and the mother of five boys and an SQPN podcast junky. She works on design projects for the Catholic community at random through her freelance business, Design pro Christus. If you are in need of design skills, consultation or software training, feel free to email her at [email protected].

Copyright 2012 Trese Gloriod

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1 Comment

  1. That was fascinating! Thank you for detailing the very careful work that goes into something we avid readers take for granted. I love how every detail of the graphic design of a book supports the message of the book itself. This article will have me looking at book covers in a whole new way.

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