We’re coming down this week from the adrenaline rush of last week’s workshop. For eight days, we’ve been working with amazing writers, professionals all, to help them enhance their indie publishing presence. And when I say “we,” I mean “we.” Everyone on the staff had a role in the workshop.

For my part, I taught what I teach best: design. Mostly book cover design. And I have to say, it never gets old. I love those moments when I demonstrate a technique, and at least one person says, “Oh my gosh, you have no idea how much time you just saved me.”

For this workshop, I also did things a little bit differently. I offered to let anyone interested observe me design an ebook cover—start to finish. We started by choosing the art, and went from there all the way to finished cover. It seemed the best way to give the attendees a window into my brain. Thank goodness no one got lost in there…

Waltzing on a Dancers Grave ebook cover webHere’s the cover, for those of you who are curious.

That access into my thought process is the hardest part about teaching design. So much of it is subjective or instinctual. But I never stop trying to find new ways to teach those intangible parts. A live demo seemed the next logical step.

But I have to admit, when I woke up the morning of the demo and realized just what I’d committed to doing, I had a moment of pause. I mean, we only had about an hour and a half. Now, I can design covers that quickly if everything falls into place. But what if it this wasn’t one of those times? Sometimes the search for art alone can take hours. Searching for art for the whole demonstration would have been like, well, watching someone search for an hour and a half. Boring.

I thought of picking the art ahead of time, but then, how to find the type of art you’re looking for was part of this demo. And I wanted the demo to be authentic.

So, I went in with the story in my head, and an idea of what I wanted to search for, with very little other prep work.

Thank goodness, I pulled it off. Phew.

We encourage our authors to take risks with their writing. Sometimes, you have to take risks with teaching, too.

I’m glad I did. And I’m really glad it worked. (Confession: I always have a backup plan, and I did here, too. I mean, it’s risky to jump out of a plane; it’s suicide to jump out of a plane without a parachute.)

But most of all, I’m glad I have the opportunity to share my love for book design with others who value it. Seeing their work evolve is extremely gratifying. And I always learn something new in the process of teaching. With a class of this caliber, I learn all sorts of things.

Thanks to the indie publishing boom, the opportunities for publishers, writers and readers are boundless. I can’t wait to see what we all learn next.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.