WHERE WE CALL HOME: Title Formation and Cover Design

Once classes started in September, we wasted no time getting the ball rolling on our newest title, Where We Call Home: Essays from the Lands, Seas, and Skies of the Pacific Northwest by Josephine Woolington. We kicked off the term by finalizing the title and are rolling ahead with the cover design and copyedits.

We began by selecting a new title the first week of classes. When we originally acquired the manuscript, the title was Mindfully Rooted: Stories from Pacific Northwest Wildflowers, Mosses, Clouds, Coyotes and Other Natural Wonders. We knew going in that we would need to change the title. We have another title being published this year titled Short, Vigorous Roots, so we felt that those two titles are too similar. On top of that, the manuscript is a collection of essays about different natural beauties of the Pacific Northwest, and the word “mindfully” came across as more of a self-help term, which could lead to confusion on the genre of the book. So, we set to work creating a new title.

This process technically started over the summer when there weren’t too many students around. Those of us who were around read through the manuscript and chose specific words that we thought would be good contenders for a title. Out of that list, titles were born.

When everyone was back on campus for Fall term, it was time to vote on the title. As a project team, we went through the list of all the titles we had come up with during the summer. Because the manuscript is a collection of nonfiction essays on different Pacific Northwest wildlife and includes interviews with Native people, we wanted to make sure that we were not misrepresenting those aspects while still showing the personal flavor that the author brings to the essays. We narrowed it down to six titles, with variations between the title and subtitle, and showed them to the author for her opinion.

We went back and forth with the author discussing the pros and cons of each title. Some were immediately vetoed, while others were tweaked slightly to better represent the manuscript. We finally nailed down the subtitle, but we still couldn’t decide on the title. After talking with the publisher, we decided to bring it to a full-press vote. The whole press decided on Where We Call Home, and ta-da, we have a title!

With the title solidified, it was time to start working on the cover design brief. Ooligan is collaborating with Ramon Shiloh, a Native author, illustrator, chef, and all-around talented human, for the cover art. At Ooligan, we always design our own covers, and that’s not changing for this book. Instead, we are using it as a unique opportunity to collaborate with an artist to feature his artwork and make a cohesive cover. To accomplish this, we had to make sure that we had a solid cover design brief to go along with Ramon’s art, which meant starting the brief before we received the art.

To make a cover design brief for a title that heavily features art without the completed artwork is no small task. We got resourceful and looked into Ramon’s other artwork and books he has illustrated to get a sense of his artistic style. We also found books within the same genre to use as examples of what to aspire to and what to avoid. The goal for the cover design was to focus heavily on the art and make sure that the cover looks like one cohesive unit and not just parts thrown together.

Now we are well underway designing covers with Ramon’s art. As the term goes on, we’re looking forward to copyediting the essays we have already received for the manuscript and receiving the rest, tightening up the marketing plan, and finalizing our cover design. Where We Call Home has had no shortage of things to learn or tasks to undertake, and we’re excited about how it’s coming together!

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