Guest Post: Designing the Cover of Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty, by Kirk Benshoff (Art Director at Orbit)

LoveMinusEightyThe cover of Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh is a thing of beauty. It’s hard to really get the full effect without holding the book in your hands, so imagine: the trade paperback is wrapped in a gorgeous transparent vellum. The vellum itself shows the hand, reaching out to the reader, and the title logo. Remove the vellum and you just see the picture of a young woman underneath, on the actual book cover. Put the two together again and you have the multi-layered image seen to the right. It’s beautiful and striking and it all fits in perfectly with the novel’s theme and content. You can see the two separate images and the combined effect here (hover over the image to click through to the next one).

I was so impressed with this innovative design that I asked Orbit’s Art Director Kirk Benshoff to write a guest post about the design process. Please enjoy this inside look at a very important aspect of book production.

Designing the Cover of Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty

by Kirk Benshoff (Art Director at Orbit)

At the beginning of every season our editors give the design department briefs on all the new titles for the next season. So when I heard we were going to be publishing Will McIntosh’s new novel, I got really excited. I’m a big fan of “Bridesicle”, so I jumped at the chance to work on the project. I was really stoked when I was officially assigned Love Minus Eighty.

With a book like Love Minus Eighty, it opens itself up to a wide range of concepts to explore, so we like to present as many ideas as possible to our editors and marketing team to see how they want to position the book in the marketplace.

Everyone here basically looked at a bunch of concepts spread across a conference room table and debated on what would be a perfect fit for the book. In the end, the final design is combination of two concepts using transparent (vellum) stock to play the ideas off each other. Typically, using vellum paper is one of those things a lot of designers want a chance to use but can’t for whatever reason. The funny thing is, the idea came from our publisher as we were all brainstorming. Designers usually write-off designs that use vellum, but in this case the idea came from the big guy on top!

Erin Mulvehill ( is a Brooklyn based photographer whose work screamed to be a part of this project. After I approached her about licensing her photo I sent her “Bridesicle” to read, and once she finished the story she was as enthusiastically invested in the project as I was.

The scariest part of the project was technically putting the cover mechanical together. In order to get certain parts of the book jacket to be white, we had to print a fifth color, an “opaque white.” Without the opaque white, the lines around the logo, white text on the cover, barcode background, etc. would look gray. The opaque white is also how we prevent areas of the cover from being transparent. If I want to see the face through the vellum on the upper left but I don’t want to see anything through the hand on the bottom right of the jacket, I needed to strategically put the opaque white in areas to control the transparent qualities of the paper. This is always tricky, because in the end… you’ll never know what it looks like till you see the final.

We have an amazing team here at Orbit and use amazing talent. Our production team are great liaisons to the printer keeping track of all the details and making sure everything was addressed that need to be addressed. Our editors really saw the potential and worked with art to create a stunning package. And Erin was a joy to work with. We all work very well together here, and Love Minus Eighty is a perfect example of that team effort.

I can only agree with Kirk – the book came out gorgeous, both inside and outside. You can read my review of Love Minus Eighty (out now from Orbit) here, and a guest post by Will McIntosh here. And stay tuned for a giveaway tomorrow…

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8 Responses to Guest Post: Designing the Cover of Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty, by Kirk Benshoff (Art Director at Orbit)

  1. Redhead says:

    It’s a gorgeous cover design, I’ve never seen anything like it before. To read, I ended up taking the vellum off so it wouldn’t get damaged, it completely changed the look of the book (which I’m sure was your intention!). With the vellum design and another design underneath, it screams “touch me”. I’m hoping this starts a trend of innovative vellum cover designs.

  2. Will McIntosh says:

    When I first saw the cover design, I was ecstatic. Totally blown away. Thank you, Kirk!

  3. Pingback: Giveaway! Enter to win a copy of Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh | Far Beyond Reality

  4. Pabkins says:

    This is the coolest cover I have ever seen. When my copy arrived I was so thrilled (but ticked off at amazon for damaging it). I think that’s the only downside is it has that chance of being damaged in shipping, but all books have that risk. It was fascinating to learn about the process you went through to design the cover! Now I’m waiting on my copies of Bridesicle and Soft Apocalypse!

  5. Pingback: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh | Far Beyond Reality

  6. Pingback: Love Minus Eighty, by Will McIntosh | the Little Red Reviewer

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