The Designer's Process: Maria Elias On Enter Title Here

The Designer's Process: Maria Elias On Enter Title Here

Maria Elias is a book designer based in Brooklyn. Her work includes the jacket and case design for the book, Enter Title Here for Hyperion. Here she answers questions on this design.


You've created a unique packaging effect with your design for this book. One really has to hold it in their hands to truly appreciate it. Can you explain the imagery on the jacket wrap and the interior hardcover, and the relationship between the two? 

I typically spend a lot of time explaining and describing my ideas to colleagues. It's a necessary part of the job of being a book designer. But it actually wasn’t that way for ENTER TITLE HERE.  The white "self-editing" concept was there from the start. Like for most books, I had a few ideas, but this was always my clear favorite. It was the concept people didn't need me to explain and never asked me to change. The other ideas were tweaked and refined, but not this one. I wrote the original front copy out of necessity, to create the design. Even though a few words were changed during the process, the concept was very sturdy from the beginning. 

The case concept came months later. I remember telling the editor and my art director that I had a crazy idea I couldn’t explain, so I showed them instead. I warned them that it involved using Rahul's words from the novel. I pulled excerpts that I loved and made a first version of the case, which was approved. The pop up windows are texts, emails, and lists Reshma creates and receives throughout the book.  These are pieces of her journey, but on the case they can be read at once, rather than sequentially as they occur in the book.  The experience is faster and more complex, like her rushing thoughts. Initially it was different colors, darker, weirder, but in the end gray was right. 

I don't know if I can define the relationship between the case and the jacket, because people will view them from their own perspective on dealing with goals. Does the reader like order or disorder? I'll admit that I was thinking of how achievement is perceived on the surface versus how it feels from within, and I was also thinking about how it feels to exert control over your world versus allowing things to happen to you. Do we really control anything? It’s a lot like the book, actually. 

What impression should the reader get when they view the book at retail versus when they hold it in their hands? 

I spent way too much time thinking about how to print this book. Especially getting lamination samples. I got crazy, trying to make it feel glossy like a screen versus glossy like a book. In my mind I was shooting for a soft glow. That's also why I used Pantone colors only to print it. The colors had to glow, especially the yellow. That said, if the reader feels that it's a different book in person versus online, I'm glad. And if you buy it not knowing what that case under the jacket looks like, that’s awesome! Hopefully like me you will look at the book on your shelf and it will remind you of this intense study-machine girl, Reshma. She’s worth remembering because she’s a well-written, engaging, and dimensional main character of color. 

On the back flap of the jacket, these words appear: "I'm your protagonist–Reshma Kapoor–and if you have the free time to read this book then you're probably nothing like me." Was it your idea to add this line? What does it reveal of the main character?

This big "nothing like me" line was in the copy I got for the bound galley. The bound galley was even more nuts than the final jacket is, typography-wise. On it I pulled out a few lines and made them bigger and ran them sideways, and even printed one on the inside cover. It was manic. But once the case was designed, that seemed like too much. But this was the one line I kept sideways and huge on the final jacket. It sums up Reshma so well,  She’s not here to live life, she’s here to win life.