Join us / Suivez-nous

Categories / Catégories


Presenting the book cover for “Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station”


For the last week, Rozanne Enerson Junker and I have been working with designers from the 99designs platform to come up with the cover for Rozanne’s new book Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station. The book, to be officially launched on November 30, 2017, in St. John’s, NL, is the result of Rozanne’s multi-year research to find an Inuit hunter, Renatus Tuglavina, and his daughter Harriot, the two individuals who befriended her uncle Elmwood “Woody” Belsheim in Hebron, Labrador, while serving at a secret U.S. Army weather station during World War II.

The designers had the mandate to come up with a cover that would best reflect the content of Renatus’ Kayak, a book which seamlessly melds World War II military history, Labrador Inuit culture, religion, politics and love through the true stories of Woody, Renatus and Harriot. The link between the three individuals, as well as between the WWII era and today, is a three-feet sealskin model kayak which Renatus made for Woody, and which Woody, in turn, gave to Rozanne.

One of the criteria imposed on the designers was that they had to integrate on the front cover the artwork entitled Silent Boats #5 by artist Allen Smutylo. Rozanne and I were so thrilled when Allen gave us his blessing to use his artwork on the cover. Finding an illustration that incorporated a representation of three main elements of the story – the kayak, an Inuit hunter (Renatus) and a woman (Harriot) – was simply unhoped for.

Of the 43 designs that were submitted, Rozanne and I selected our top three. To help us see more clearly, and to make the final decision, we ran a poll asking for thoughts, comments on the three designs. Over 125 people provided their feedback either through the 99designs platform, Facebook, email messages or phone calls. Some people opted to rate their choices using a 5-star system, others awarded their first, second and third place, or simply shared with us their top pick. People were also free to provide comments or explain their decision.

Before I go any further, here were our top three choices (in chronological number of cover id):

Votes came in from both ends of North America (California and Nunatsiavut), everywhere in between, and from Europe. Some were already familiar with Rozanne’s research, others had never heard of it. Even though the poll had nothing scientific, we were extremely pleased with the number of people who took the time to review.

Very quickly, it became obvious that we would not be able to rely solely on the statistics provided by the 99designs platform to help us make our decision. The scores were simply too close, didn’t take into consideration the many votes received from other sources, nor the actual comments. We had to develop our own analysis system. What were people really telling us?

First, I came up with a list of about ten questions. For example, which cover…

  • … better reflects the book’s genre?
  • … better conveys the tone of the book?
  • … better reflects the Arctic setting?
  • … better grabs the attention?
  • … looks more professional?
  • … is more pleasing to look at?
  • … is easier to read?
  • … matches our target audiences?
  • etc.

Then, I went through all the received comments and put them beside the question they related to, asking myself whether the comment represented a pro or a con for the cover. So, slowly, the spreadsheet was being built. Once all comments had been classified, I took each question, analyzed the comments and tried to determine which of the design had the advantage. At the end of the process, one design clearly had gathered the most advantages.

I sent the spreadsheet to Rozanne for her to look at and see if my logic made sense. Would she come to the same conclusion? Interestingly, some of the comments I saw as a “con”, she saw as a “pro”. We discussed, made adjustments, and in the end, we both agreed that one design stood out. But, because we really liked all three of them, in the back of our minds, there was still a tiny doubt. Yes, but this one… and this one… We knew we’d end up disappointing lots of people and two of the three designers. That was unavoidable.

There was one more check we could make. Would the printer have issues with any of the covers that we didn’t couldn’t identify? The answer came back that from a production level, it didn’t make any difference which one we would choose. But, in their opinion, one stood out as being “on the target” for the current market. It was the one that our analysis had identified as the winning design. Somehow, both Rozanne and I felt relieved. We were making the right decision.

Without any further ado, here is the winning design for the first edition of Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station:

The winning design.

A few minor adjustments will be made before going to print.

Thank you so much to the three designers: semnitz, Wally_F, Inosity Studios for their time, enthusiasm and hard word. It was a great pleasure to collaborate with all of them.

Thank you! Merci! Nakummek! to everyone who took the time to look at the cover options, rate them and/or provide comments. Every single rating and comment was useful and helped us reach the final decision.

We’re now one step closing to holding the final products in our hands, and to be able to share it with the world.

For those of you who are in St. John’s, NL, please note the date of November 30, 2017, as it will be the official book launch when Rozanne gives her talk at the Newfoundland and Labrador History Society at 7:30 p.m.

Thank you for your interest and support.
France Rivet


2 comments to Presenting the book cover for “Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station”

  • Gene Johnson McKeever

    Beautiful! I was so happy to visit with Roxanne a few years ago in Duluth!

  • Good it was my favorite book cover choice for me it was the one who represent the most North and also attracted my eyes whit the color white if we can say that white is a color ..Raymond.. good luck Rozanne.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>