Gotta Nail It / by Stefaan Conrad

I must start this post by expressing my deepest gratitude to those of you who contributed to Recalibrate in response to my latest post. After sharing my budget and my goals for the project, I received $300 from readers like you. WOW! I can’t thank you enough and it’s inspiring to feel the support behind my project. In case you still feel like supporting my project and want to contribute a few dollars, here’s a donate button!

recalibrate production fund

If there’s one part of Recalibrate that I have to really get right, it’s the cover. Everyone says, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but, if we’re being honest, you all do it. I would dare to say you do it on a more regular basis than you imagine. Think about it. What about a book makes you want to look inside? The cover. I feel good about what I have for my cover so that’s in a good place.

I’ve done some exploring in my personal search for inspiration and I’ve done some book designing research and the general idea is that the second most important part of a publication is the contents page. I guess the ideology behind this is that if the contents page doesn’t effectively tell the reader what’s inside, they won’t feel like they want read on. My contents page has gone through a lot and I haven’t been happy with it yet…

Here are two versions of my contents page. I’ll show them to you before I explain my choices.

The concept here is to tie in my interest in geography. Both iterations show the contour of the Northern California coast line which, in my mind, is pretty identifiable. In case it isn’t, the little California overlay on the right side gives a contextual reference as to what the map is communicating. Each number on the maps represents the location of a photoshoot that I’ve done. Each number corresponds to an item in the contents list on the facing page where both page numbers and athletic activities are referenced.

I designed the first version a long time ago but never felt satisfied with it. I think it’s due to the fact that it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the book. Finally, I tried utilizing photographic imagery because I felt like that’s what was missing and that’s where the second version comes from. Neither version is completely doing it for me so I thought I’d see what kind of feedback I could get from you guys.

As I’ve been writing this post, I came to the realization that I DON’T NEED A CONTENTS PAGE!!! Why? This isn’t a commercial magazine. I’m not designing GQ and want my readers to be able to jump to the one section they’re interested in. On the contrary, I’m designing the book to be experienced as a whole, not jumped through at the readers volition. However, keeping this imagery contributes to my theme of geography and allows readers to see into my mind and think of things in terms of relationships to each other in the context of a map.

Basically, I’m stuck. If you had a gut reaction or first impression, I’d love to hear it because I’m way too far in to rely on a gut reaction anymore.