A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…. Pip Watkins by SJV
Next up in our series of A Day in the Life of feature is @TeamBATC member Pip Watkins!
What does a book designer do?
The process of designing a cover starts when an editor briefs the cover in a jacket meeting, and describes what kind of cover the book needs and where it will sit within the market. From there normally I’ll try to discuss the book with the editor or read as much of the manuscript as I can to get a flavour of it, and then go away to scribble down some rough ideas in my notebook or on Photoshop. Most of these ideas are usually terrible, so I’ll pick my favourite approaches and then explore those. With the help of my team and feedback from Editorial, Sales and Marketing and the author we continue to refine an idea, until we end up with a final cover.
With every book cover I work on I hope to accurately represent the content, while trying to make it feel appealing and pick-up-able!
Is there such a thing as a typical day, and if so what does it look like?
Each day is dictated by what book we’re working on really! Most of the time I’m at my desk, doing a variety of things: image research, doing some sketching or lettering, working up a design on Photoshop or playing around and trying to find some inspiration online. We also brief out covers to freelance designers and illustrators, so we need to keep in touch with them about how it’s going. It also involves our team gathering around our screens and chatting about what we’re doing – it’s always helpful getting some feedback from my colleagues, as staring at the same design for hours can get a bit mind-boggling!
We’re obsessed with other peoples TBR piles, how high is yours? And do you have 2, one for work books and one for pleasure books?
My TBR pile has become alarmingly high. I’ve run out of shelf space so now there are piles of books on the floor, everywhere. It’s an organised mess! I have my work pile and pleasure pile intermixed with one another, like a lovely literary cocktail.
Have you got a best and worst part of the job?
It’s tricky choosing the best part… receiving an email from an author saying that they are over the moon with their cover – there’s no better feeling! It’s always rewarding seeing books you’ve worked on in the flesh too, I recently saw a window display full of books with my cover and I wanted to happy cry.
The most challenging part is probably pleasing everybody! There are a lot of voices involved when it comes to getting the cover right – and it can be tricky balancing those opinions and finding the right direction.
Is there an author you’d sell a limb to work with?
I would have sold all of my limbs to work with the legendary Louise Rennison.
What book do you most recommend to others?
Recently I’ve been screaming at everybody to read Homegoing by Yaa Gyazi. It’s a stunning debut following two branches of one family tree, across 300 years, beginning in eighteenth century Ghana and arriving in present day. It is completely and utterly engrossing and so beautifully written it hurts. I cannot (and will never) stop gushing about it.
And lastly our quick fire trivia round…
Thing you’d never leave home without? I live alone now, so if I forget my keys it’s game over.
Favourite place to read? My delicious Ikea armchair.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? New York. I’m very predictable.
What’s on your current reading pile? I just finished reading the manuscript of Love Song for Sceptics, a brilliant and hilarious new book coming out soon that I am lucky enough to get to design the cover for! I ADORED it…
Staying in or Going out? Both! I love gigs, but I also love Doritos.
What’s your Signature dish? Crunchy peanut butter straight from the jar.
Beach break or city break? I would happily take a bit of both, but my heart belongs to big cities.
Favourite Literary Hero? Georgia Nicholson
Famous last words? I’ll just take a very quick nap…