What is Encircle’s approach to designing an eye-catching book cover that also reflects the author’s story?
There are a lot of great book cover designers out there doing stellar work not just for the big publishing houses but also for small independent houses and self-publishers. Good cover design is no big secret. Artistic aptitude aside (you at least need an artist’s eye) it takes practice and experience. Encircle Publications uses a small team of designers with decades of experience who turn out over 100 book cover designs every month for a major large print publishing house. A book cover designer’s main goal is to design a cover that can grab a potential reader’s eye with just a brief cursory glance. Ideally you want to get someone to pick the book up and read the back-cover copy. That seems simple enough but the designer also has to cater to the author’s story and produce a cover reflective of that story. It is simply not possible for a book cover designer to read every book they must design, so they often go into the process fairly blind. The key here is good communication. At Encircle Publications authors are asked to fill out a cover design form that gives them a chance to tell their story in synopsis and give their ideas and visions for the cover design. Oftentimes it’s phone calls that are required to clarify things. We’re always happy to talk directly with our authors. Whether by email or phone it’s the warm and friendly back and forth that sets Encircle Publications apart and helps to achieve the goal.
What do you do at night, when the designers have all gone home? Are you busy printing? Do you enjoy the silence?
It’s a great question that brings a chuckle. Even with all of our experience and the volume of work we produce on any given month, Encircle Publications is still a bit of a mom-n-pop operation. Believe it or not we run this whole thing from our home on a dirt road deep in the woods outside of Farmington, Maine. Our Internet comes four miles in on half of a T1 line. Our team of designers works from their homes as well. Most of our designers are from Maine but we’ve got them as far out as Colorado too. There’s plenty of silence to enjoy at night, but because of the nature of the business (sometimes clients are several time zones away) and just because we can, we sometimes work late at night too. Most nights, my wife and I relax and enjoy the peace and quiet—whether watching TV, or sitting across from one another in the living room on our separate computers, both working on Encircle projects.
Are you currently living in your original home, or have you moved around a bit throughout the years?
The seeds of Encircle Publications were sown in the State of Massachusetts. My wife and I are originally from Falmouth, and Plymouth, respectively. Cynthia began her journey by starting a poetry journal there. Twenty years later the Aurorean is now known and hailed as “New England’s premier independent poetry journal.” I started out in a family newspaper business, and parlayed that into becoming an art director for a small publishing house. Fifteen or so years ago when that publishing house was sold to Thorndike Press of Waterville, Maine, my wife and I packed our bags and made the move north. After a few years of working for Thorndike Press as their art director, I became an independent contractor and contract my work out to Thorndike press and other smaller publishers. My wife and I quickly realized that our talents, experience, and collaborative efforts might come together beautifully. Together we could generate a flourishing poetry publishing house, as well as service small independent and self publishers with any of the production services necessary to produce both physical and electronic books. In 2006 we teamed up to form Encircle Publications LLC. In 2010 we brought Devin McGuire on full-time. He has been dynamic in providing editing expertise, serving as webmaster, marketing, communications, doing cover design, author website development (and he sometimes even performs duties of roof-snow-shoveling and kitty-caretaking when we are visiting our family in Massachusetts!). We love that we can manage this company from our little place deep in the woods, but we’re realists. Encircle Publications is a growing company. We’ve just recently begun assigning fiction novel manuscripts for editing and can now be a complete one stop shop for an independent author who needs the full package—editing, layout and cover design, printing, marketing materials, website development. That’s why we like to say “we’ve got you covered.” We’ll probably always be in Maine but the allure of growth from mom-n-pop in the woods to real brick-and-mortar storefront office space remains. If and when the time comes that we open a “storefront office,” we’ll always remember to keep things open and friendly with our customers just the way we’ve always been.
PO Box 187
Farmington, ME 04938