In conversation with... Anneka Sandher


Hi Anneka! Thank you for joining me today. I have recently read In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira - whose beautiful cover you designed - and I have a few questions about this cover in particular and book cover design more in general.
How did you get started in this field?
A: I studied Graphic Design at university and Hallmark cards approached me after seeing my work at my final show. I went for an interview and took a job designing greeting cards and packaging. After a year I wanted to move to London and work in a similar field, as I loved my job! I took a job at  Hodder and Stoughton designing book covers. The jobs are both very similar in terms of creativity, working with print and finishes. I worked at a few other publishing houses, gaining experience, and eventually went freelance. Now I take on adult fiction, non-fiction and children’s cover design, along with other non publishing jobs. 
Can you describe the process of designing this cover? 
A: The process usually begins with a brief from the editor. They give us a synopsis and a few key points/moments. They might also give us some comparisons that already exist in the market as an indication of where they see it sitting. Sometimes we are told that they are looking for a typographic/photographic/illustrated cover etc. but other times it’s a far more open brief. It varies wildly on how prescriptive a brief is. I love the open briefs because it’s a chance to experiment with ideas and it’s good to go back with something that surprises them, that they may not have expected or considered. We have a weekly cover meeting where all departments attend e.g. design, sales, marketing and editorial. Depending on the book, we will take rough visuals/ideas and they are discussed. From there, we take in any feedback or sometimes it can be a case of going back to square one. The editor is constantly liasing with the author to keep them in the loop. Once everyone is on board we go ahead to final art, whether that’s me, or anyone I have commissioned.
In this instance it was quite an open brief. I tried lots of things, lots centred around birds.  This ‘Californian’ colour palette was always in the picture but the girl was a late addition. We did a shoot to get the girl right and then photoshopped her into the background. The birds made it onto the cover but as a much smaller element. The dots were a nice link to the US cover and so was my hand-lettered title.
If you have seen it, what do you think of the book cover of the American edition? Do you think it would have worked in the UK?
A: I have seen it, yes. I like it but I don’t think it’s right for our market. I did however take some inspiration from it with all the dots.
Did you have any contact with or input from the author? If that is not the norm, would you find it helpful or more limiting?
A: Very rarely do I meet the authors to discuss ideas as generally the editor is the intermediary. The author usually has some ideas, which are passed on to the designers. Sometimes these ideas are really helpful and work really well but, sometimes, the cover ends up in a completely different direction. It can be really helpful but if the author has a set idea in their head it can be difficult to convince them of other suggestions. In this case I did not have any direct contact with the author.
What are you working on at the moment? 
A: All sorts but mainly children's book covers. I’m part way through desiging/art directing a 12-volume children's book series with an illustrator called Nathan Collins. I’m really enjoying that as it’s moving quite quickly, he’s great to work with and the covers are really fun. We are also working on some of the internal illustrations.
What are you reading at the moment?
A: I’ve just read When Breath Becomes Air. Non fiction is my thing.
Is there one type of fiction that you prefer designing covers for? Does this reflect your preference as a reader?
A: I’m really enjoying young adult. I find that it takes influence from trends and fashions on the high street, which keeps it fresh. It’s the genre most similar to my time designing greeting cards and packaging. I’ve also been doing lots of hand lettering as it’s a bit of a thing at the moment. I’m having lots of fun with that at the moment.
Many thanks for your time!

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