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First Time Authors: Revealing the Book Cover
Looking back, we were very focused throughout the whole book process on the mechanisms of turning our idea into a reality but we never dwelled on the final finished product. For example, neither one of us remembers ever having a proper discussion about what the final book would actually look like. Instead we were consumed with key processes: 1. Having the idea and putting it on paper; 2. Doing the research on which publishing house to approach with our proposal; and 3. Going through the subsequent stages of revising the proposal post peer-review, contacting authors, receiving chapters, and editing. It almost seems as if we got so immersed in the joys and trials of each of these steps perhaps we didn’t dare look too far beyond the here and now.
Of course, there is another way of looking at this situation. We were obviously working towards a book. We had to deliver that high-quality product by a set deadline and the steps leading to it could not be delayed in any way. Once we had delivered the full manuscript then we would figure out the packaging—not an insignificant step, especially in regards to marketing and us liking the product, but also not a critical step in our subconscious.
So, it was a wonderful surprise when we received an email with the heading “Cover options”. Neither of us are particularly creative so we are glad that this packaging was led by the Elsevier designers. In the email, Marisa and the Design Team had sent us two possible covers for the book, both with a fittingly subtle message of the potential benefits of biochar to soils. As you will see when you buy the book (wink), the design and marketing team went with the black backdrop of charred land from which a determined green seedling grows. Shades of this same green are then used rather stylishly, if we may say so ourselves, for the book title, the ribbon on which our names sit, and the spine. It is moments like this that make this whole book editing process worth its weight in gold. It was exciting to see what the final product would look like and how it would sit on people’s bookshelves (either electronic or traditional).
Although the covers were not too different from each other, deciding on one was not something we were going to take lightly. Printouts of both were made so that we could see them in different light. We asked Marisa for a few minor tweaks and had a major discussion about how our names should appear – one of us uses one of her names more than the other depending on whether she is in the northern or southern hemisphere! It was also nice to share the proposed covers with our husbands and close colleagues so that they could provide input.
The timing of revealing the cover was interesting (whether by chance or design we will never know). It was fairly early into the editing journey and we still had a long way to go. Seeing the cover meant this was really going to happen and we had to deliver.
About the Authors
I am an early stage academic with a keen interest in research, and research-led teaching, on how microbial communities are studied and then exploited in different environmental biotechnologies. My senior lectureship with Teesside University in 2006 was my first academic post following postdoctoral fellowships in Singapore and Oxford. I really enjoy working in successful partnerships with different colleagues especially where we do research across disciplines, share ideas and learn from each other. So co-editing a book with Caroline will go down in my memoirs as one of my career highlights.
I am a relatively early stage researcher whose area of expertise is in molecular ecology specifically looking at functional microbial communities within the soil. I first joined Teesside University a couple of years ago as my first lectureship position following my PhD and a small amount of postdoc work. When I first joined the University I was keen to establish myself as a researcher not just a member of teaching staff but struggled initially to juggle the two. I was quickly introduced to Komang who was interested in research similar to my own area.
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