Here’s the situation… You are an entrepreneur looking for a graphic designer who will bring your visions to life—whether it’s a logo, book cover design, promotional advertisement or some other creative option you require for your business. As a new or up and upcoming author, you know that your book cover design is essential for your success. However, you are not sure of what you should be looking for when it comes to color and style and need to rely on their expertise to execute your concept professionally and comprehensively. Yet, you still don’t know which way to turn.
The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino sits down with Leah Frieday to get some answers to your design questions, as well as express why AleahDesign is the Graphic Design firm you’ve been looking for.
Michelle: There are a lot of hats that a Graphic Designer wears. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Leah: I live in Ontario, Canada – In a beautiful little town called Paris – I am a mother, wife, and fur baby mommy! I have an extremely active business life, credentials and certifications which I truly believe blends beautifully with creating visuals for authors.
In 2006, I embarked on a journey which would culminate in three certifications; A Master Spirit Life Coach, Love Coach and a Loveologist certification. I have since been helping couples and individuals in their personal love lives. My specialization is in Fidelity. The absolute truth is, I believe I have done all I am able to do working with people in a relationship crisis situation. I am looking to feed the need to create which is why I decided to go full time with graphic arts and professionally as a musician.
In 2010, I founded Sacred Songstress Inc. which married my two loves of healing women and singing. I am also a vocalist and lyricist. My endeavors within this project deal with helping women to find their voice, both vocally and spiritually. Together we write their lyrics, learn to sing and then record their original signature song. I understand there are many, many people who are starving to be uncaged from their own prisons. It is my mission to be able to help them achieve that freedom through song.
I have a background in interior design and I am constantly pulling my experience from that field to mix in with the designs I create for authors. What I really want is to provide top shelf graphics for authors for a reasonable price.
Finally, I am a full-time student of life and an unabashedly happy and optimistic person. I have a serious love affair with helping people achieve their ideal life vision. I try to live life as genuinely as possible. I am an open champion of love and fidelity, an activist for animal welfare, an educator, healer and reacher. I love the fact that I am able to continue using my creative passion and intuitive design abilities in a way that helps authors stand out loud, helps me contribute to my household, at the same time allowing me to work on Sacred Songstress Inc.
Michelle: How long have you been producing through AleahDesign?
Leah: AleahDesign has been alive since 2001 – in various incarnations – both in the interior design realm and graphic design. In 2007 I decided on the niche I wanted to exist in for graphic design – which lead me to working with authors specifically.
Michelle: How did you become involved in book cover and E-book cover design?
Leah: I discovered book cover design when I was asked to create a cover for a colleague. She was writing a book about feet! As funny as that sounds – it was the catalyst that lead me to my style of digging deeper into the content of the book, the message, and the personality of the author. It was then that I noticed that my background in coaching would play an integral part of drilling down to get the exact right message across with just one glance from the potential reader.
Michelle: In your opinion, how important is book cover design to a new or up and coming author?
Leah: For indie authors, new or up and coming authors, I believe that everyone, no matter what they are writing, who their audience is, even what genre they are working within needs to pay special attention to two things – editing and book covers (naturally – LOL!) and I think it is a mistake when they don’t take these two aspects extremely seriously. I look at it like this…would you step out of your house half dressed – fully exposed? The book you write is your blood and guts – it is a piece of you. This is the first impression that everyone talks about. This is your three second moment of opportunity to get into the mind of the reader, the chance to stir emotion, intrigue, and excitement. Do not ever waste that chance with shoddy covers. There is never room for a “good enough” attitude when it comes to wrapping your hard work.
Michelle: What do you feel are the key components that make up an eye-catching book cover design?
Leah: I truly believe that there are three components to capturing the interest of a potential reader/buyer; I do my best to use these three elements wisely and creatively to the highest level.
1. Color: An incredible color can bring up intense emotions. It will lay the groundwork for the rest of the design. It creates a stage for the cover to unfold the story under the cover.
2. An unusual, even shocking visual. Personally, as I design, I put myself into the book, and I choose a specific climactic scene from within the pages. I may even assume the role of one of the key characters and borrow their vibe. I get the reader ready and willing to delve further into the content.
3. Font choice – for me this is key as well. The title needs to shine – and the author name needs to be prominent at all times. I always try to choose a font to fit the genre, but one that is in line with the personality of the author as well. This is one of the first steps in how an author can brand their work.
Michelle: Coming from a graphic design perspective, do you believe in the phrase “You can’t judge a book by its cover”?
Leah: Great Question! Honestly? I think the judgment should be left for the inside pages of the book. The cover is the entrance into the world the author has created for us. Personally, if there were three doors to choose from, I would immediately step forward and turn the knob on the most intriguing door. But, who is to say that intrigue does not mean a plain cover, with a one word title? This makes your mind engage immediately… what is behind this plain door… I need to find out.
Michelle: How do you come up with the concepts for your cover designs?
Leah: I listen to the author. I never try to force my concept onto the design, unless we are on the same page. I ask questions, I go deeper than most designers would. Because of my coaching background I know which questions will give me the best answers to begin the concept. I look into the book and at the author and I use my intuition to begin the process. I come at it from deep within myself, at a spiritual level.
Michelle: How would an author contact you and what would they need to provide you with?
Leah: An author can contact me on Facebook: Leah Frieday, or ALeahDesign – and on my website at AleahDesign.com. They need to provide me with an hour of their time, where we will have a conversation to begin the process. They also need to provide me with their trust. There is also a general form for the uncreative, but necessary details of the project.
Michelle: How are your pricing options structured, and what are some of the package deals you offer?
Leah: My pricing is based on the real time it takes me to create, so there are flat rate prices which are realistic, not blown out of proportion. I pride myself on the fact that no matter what, I always give top shelf visuals at a price that authors should be willing to invest in their craft. I also realize that budgets are tight, so I have created payment plans to fit with each need. I am always open to discussing how it can work for you. I know that it will take a certain amount of time to sit at the computer to actually put the design down “on Paper” and this is where the fees are charged. What I don’t charge for is the time I take in my mind to come up with the concept. I begin my own process of creating the concept for the cover while I am NOT at my computer, so it could be while I am doing the dishes with my girl, walking the dog or even at night before I fall asleep. I have even had dreams of the story and then woken up in the middle of the night to capture it. I have created specific packages as well. These are real world items that I feel will give the book the best launch possible. The packages are multimedia creations and tangible products that help the book and the author to stand out loud. The most creative package deal I have is a mini book & Mini CD Package – which gives you a visual look into the scenes of the book. It is like a book trailer – but on paper, something they can hold, and keep. I marry that with the power that comes from my own passion, a signature song. I write the lyrics, create the melody and record a soundtrack for your book. I have generous musical friends so the prices are extremely reasonable for this very unique marketing tool.
Michelle: You are also involved with another venture, Sacred Songtress Inc. Let us know more about it.
Leah: Oh Boy! Now you are getting to the heart of who I am deep inside! I am taking this directly from my site, because every word there was painstakingly written to show what this project means to me and to others like me.
“Leah is making it easy for us to see how telling your story through lyrics can change and rearrange your life. Working with Leah provides a musical experience for the mind and body and a connection with spirit like never before. As a result, you will vibrate with rhythm and rhyme and in singing your truth, free yourself from a lifetime sentence of low self esteem and crisis levels of stress, fear, doubt and an unfulfilled reality.
With the conception of her musically curative program Sacred Songstress Inc.®, and her duties as a Life Vision Liaison, Leah aims to inject an intense boost of creativity, self confidence, sexy sass and magic momentum into your life.
Personal relationships and marriage experiences have melded with a special sequestered educational period spanning the last 15 years, giving birth to Leah’s true “calling”. Her loving nature, insatiable curiosity about the human bond of love and a true creative energy have all flourished into a myriad of Love Life, Heart and Music® centered endeavors designed to touch the lives of those who are suffering within their own minds.
Her goal is to free anyone who feels trapped and to assist all of us who seek to celebrate life. Those of us who wish to initiate the deliberate design of our own lives can rely on her dedication in helping others to move on to a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Her main purpose is to inspire the kindred to want to ignite their lives and nourish their souls.
As the result of a major epiphany, also known as infidelity, Leah was able to gain a quantum leap in her own spiritual journey which is unfolding in life-long musical friendships and a never wavering, loving direction of mending and rejoicing through a Sisterhood of Song®. More importantly, she has set out on a mission to find a troupe of women in key cities across North America determined to inspire those around them, for these women to do the same for others.
Leah’s passion lies in assisting women to overcome the obstacles we all face in our daily lives and together with a group of musical marvels, she gives us the chance to write or rewrite the melody of our lives.”
Michelle: Where did your musical background begin?
Leah: It began in 1973, when I was three years old, with The Rose, by Bette Midler…..I was made to sing that song repeatedly for family, friends, parties…to this day I sing it! Then, certain circumstances and periods throughout my life have made music my safe place. All I know is that when I write lyrics and sing them, I transform into someone or something that is tapping into an ancient and eternal magic. I have never been formally trained. It comes from within, and I let it out!
Michelle: What services do you offer through Sacred Songtress Inc. and how would someone contact you for more information?
Leah: There are four main divisions/services within SSI.
1. A Group Soul Song Session where I provide a safe space for women to explore their true Life Vision, which is ultimately a gaggle of women talking about their stuff with martinis, cupcakes and live music. It’s like a musical bath for the soul.
2. Private Song Sessions where we work one on one to delve down into your inner landscape, find your lyrics, write your song, teach you how to sing and then record it! (sessions are virtual and local)
3. We can do the Soul Song Sessions as a group as well.
4. And finally, but most especially, there is a Soul Song Destination Session – We fly to a pre-determined destination (usually somewhere fantastic, with a beach) gather a group of six to ten women, and over an intense five day fully inclusive experience, we uncover, expose and record your soul song. You can find out more at www.sacredsongstress.com
Michelle: What advice would you offer an author to assist in their search for a Graphic Designer? What should they look for and/or what questions should they ask?
Leah: The best advice I can offer to an author is to find someone you trust. Design ability is one thing, but relying on the person in a work ethic situation is quite another. Make sure that they have time for you, and that they take your work as seriously as you do. Try to find an artist that cares about what they are putting out. Avoid book cover “puppy mills”. Find someone who is willing to work with you long term, to create your brand, to inject excitement into each time you make that call and say, I have another one for you! I think that the authors I work with will tell you that I truly care about their careers, and that I make it my mission to protect the bond I have created with them. The questions are fairly general, make sure their pricing matches with your budget, ask to see a portfolio, and read some of their testimonials. Also, their website will show a lot about how they think about design and branding, so take a look at that. Ask what array of services they offer. In my opinion it is best to engage with an artist that does art for authors—an artist that also does graphics for other areas of industry may get out of touch with the needs and desires of authors.
Michelle: What sets AleahDesign apart from all the rest?
Leah: Well, I hate to say it like this…but Leah is what sets ALeahDesign apart. It says it all in the company name. I am willing to put my own name on every visual that I create, because I put hard work into each one. I never say, that is good enough. I always, always treat my clients with the utmost respect for putting their minds on a silver platter and handing it to the world. I honor that.
Michelle: What are 3 Do’s & 3 Don’ts for a successful book cover?
• Do #1: Consider the book cover as the first impression–the one chance to get that sale. If you are in this for a living this is key. This allows you the revenue to write that next book. Don’t get locked into the desire to get your MESSAGE out there. Treat it like a real business. Fabulous Covers increase sales. Period.
• DO #2: Find an artist who gets you—someone that you can call on without the meter ticking. Trust is crucial and not secondary to artistic ability. There are sooo many fantastic artists out there. But if they don’t understand where you are coming from, or where you would like to end up, it will always be less than.
• Do#3: Take chances with your cover. Don’t be afraid to insult delicate sensibilities. I have created book covers dripping in blood, scenes of intense situations…whatever it takes to get that reader to stop dead in their tracks and to look further.
• DON’T #1: Do Not consider your cover as an after thought – most of my clients use the inspiration from the cover I create for them as the fuel to finish up the words. Always be concerned about the cover. Take it very seriously.
• DON’T #2: Never be afraid to tell the designer when you are not feeling the cover they have created. This is your life blood. This is your baby. Don’t let anyone put your baby on display unless it is perfectly shiny!
• DON’T #3: Be careful in sharing your cover concepts with everyone. Choose a stable of trusted people to expose the drafts to. It is a harsh realization, when someone steals your concept and your cover and makes it their own.