Writing Down Dog Billionaire was a labour of love, in more ways than one. I had been working on it for several years, on and off, but it really gathered impetus when I was grieving the death of my beloved father and needed a place to escape. I needed to inhabit a place in my mind that was sunny and fun and full of hope. Down Dog Billionaire became that place.
I took great delight in deciding to self-publish – it would give me creative control of the edit and enable me to choose my own illustrator and book designer.
Once the book was complete, with editorial help from Alex Hodson, a recent graduate of the famous UEA Creative Writing School, I settled into the business of book production.
I spent hours googling fashion illustrators because I wanted to invoke glamour and found Solène Debiès. Her characters were elegant, feminine and had a certain attitude that was both fun and rebellious. I also loved that her characters were full of life – striding across the page with great purpose.
After an initial Skype call, in which I bombarded the poor girl with executional details from the book, she came back with these two treatments.
I had pushed for a yoga pose but we both agreed that this looked a bit forced and, contrary to the publishing wisdom that says ‘keep cover characters faceless so the reader can project their own meaning’, I wanted Meg to face the reader – I wanted her to be as relatable as she is in the book – a girl you’d want to know.
From here Solène moved to colour treatments. The one I fell in love with immediately was the one with the blue background.
It was absolutely that sunny place I had wanted to go to in those dark days after Dad died and I wanted to take my readers there too.
My only concern at this point was that, although the blue looked amazing on screen, it might not look so great on the printed book – a bit flat actually. So I asked Solène to add a gradient and this worked really well.
Next stop: the designer. I found the magnificently titled Domini Dragoone on another google search. Although each cover was totally different they all had an energy which leapt out of the page.
Domini recommended the top image, but I was quite torn between it and the bottom treatment. I asked Domini to do some more work on both – playing around with the balance of pink and black, and the placing of the sub title.
Living with the two cover versions for a couple of days I came to love the big lettering and the placement of Meg in front of the title. It gave the cover a movie-like feel which was in keeping with the Meg’s dreams of appearing on the L.A. stage.
Ladies and Gentlemen – I give you Down Dog Billionaire – may it always take you someplace sunny and fun, may it bring a smile to your face on a dark day.