Michelle Rochford, Senior Fiction Designer at Hachette Children's Group in London, UK, speaks to us about Designing Kids' Books.
Michelle lives in London with her husband and their cat. She has worked in children's publishing for over twenty years.
I love reading, drawing, learning new things and generally doing anything creative. So a combination of all of these things is why I love my job.
I usually have a big long list of to-do’s to prioritise like any job. Each day I’ll be doing several things.
A large chunk of time each week is taken up doing research and coming up with concepts for new covers, or working up these ideas into finished covers.
I might looking for an illustrator, or writing a detailed brief for an illustrator we’ve commissioned. Or I might be browsing through photo-libraries for the right image/s. Or, I might be choosing fonts for the inside of a book, and adding artwork into chapter-heads.
My husband thinks I just sit at my desk drawing with my tongue out, if only!
Mostly I start by reading the book. I like to get a feel for the way it’s written. I think this is really important, but it’s not totally necessary as we do get detailed briefs from the Editor.
Next I do lots of research, into the content of the story, the target audience, general trends.
After that, I collect everything together and hope it sparks some ideas.
I think the biggest challenge is to get everyone on-board and happy with the book design. Lots of different departments in-house as well as the author.
I think we can overcome this by working together, by listening and taking on-board everyone’s feedback, including the negative.
No. Maybe because I’m lucky enough to work on such a broad range of subjects and genres. If I worked in more of a niche area I think I might, but saying that, trends & fashions change all the time so I think there will always be new ideas and things around to inspire me.
I’d love to work on a group of Penguin or Puffin Classics. So many beautiful covers.
Patrice Lawrence’s Orangeboy, won the YA Book Prize last year, amongst other much deserved awards & shortlists. I’m proud to have been involved in a tiny part of such an amazing book.
One of my first jobs after University was working in an animation company, King Rollo Films, who animate children’s book characters. I worked as a renderer, inbetweener and background artist on Maisy Mouse & Spot the Dog,
and authors such as Roald Dahl. I think this really helped me get my
first job in publishing, which was a maternity cover designer at Puffin
I love sewing, especially hand sewing and twiddly details. So probably a costume designer, sewing elaborate outfits for period dramas.
Thanks so much to Michelle for talking with us. You can find out more about Hachette Childrens Books here
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