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Creating the Right Front Cover: What Does It Take?

September 11, 2019 @ 4:30 pm


The front cover of a book has a lot of work to do: it must appropriately represent the content it encloses (its editorial function), it must sell the book to readers at-a-glance (its marketing function), and it must do all this in a way that is creative and visually engaging (the design function). There are always many cooks in the front-cover kitchen, which makes the process energizing and collaborative but challenging as well.

Why does one cover work while another doesn’t? How do cross-department teams work together effectively and harmoniously to generate that perfect cover? Join us in exploring these questions with a panel of professionals — a publisher, a creative director, and a marketer — from Free Spirit Publishing, who will share insights about their cover design process, including tips for a smooth collaborative process and stories of successes and challenges in this work.

About Free Spirit Publishing

Free Spirit Publishing is an educational book publisher that aims to provide young children, kids, and teens — and the adults who care for and about them — with the tools they need to think for themselves, overcome challenges, and make a difference in the world. Free Spirit was founded locally by author and educator Judy Galbraith in 1983.


Since January 2019, Kyra Ostendorf has served as publisher at Free Spirit Publishing. She oversees day-to-day operations and supports the company’s mission to meet kids’ social, emotional, and educational needs. Prior to joining Free Spirit, Kyra was vice president of education at Kaplan Early Learning Company, and she was responsible for supporting internal teams, external partners, and customers with regard to the educational resources Kaplan provides, including professional development offerings. She was also the acquiring editor at Redleaf Press, where she identified and developed prospective authors to add to the Redleaf portfolio, resulting in more than two hundred publications. Kyra holds a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College. She is an avid reader of both fiction and nonfiction and is a member of two book clubs — and yes, they read the books! Kyra lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two sons.

Gino Perfetti has been the creative director at Free Spirit Publishing for over three years. He manages the in-house creative team in the design of all Free Spirit books and marketing materials. For twenty-five years, Gino has led creative teams in corporate and agency environments for many well-known companies, including General Mills, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Caribou, Cargill, Carlson Companies, and Gold’n Plump. His creativity and love for working on kids’ products are what drew him to his current role and made him a perfect fit for Free Spirit children’s books. While working at Ultra Creative, his team was known as the “kid back panel game experts” at General Mills. Gino attended the College of Visual Arts and holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. When not at work you will find him home with his wife in Ham Lake, on thirteen acres with their collection of vintage arcade games, surfboards, advertising signs, and all things tiki. They have four children and are empty nesters for the first time in thirty-three years.

Amanda Shofner has been the publicist at Free Spirit Publishing for nearly three years. As a member of the sales and marketing team, she enjoys participating in many aspects of the publishing process, before and after the publication date. Along with self-publishing six books, she has worked as a freelance editor and previously was the content manager at Mill City Press. An avid reader and former book blogger, Amanda knows that contrary to the old adage, people do judge a book by its cover. When Amanda isn’t working with authors to market their books, she’s usually exploring Minneapolis with her dog Scarlet, reading, or talking to her houseplants.


Jim Handrigan has been working as a designer in publishing for more than twelve years. He is currently working three days a week with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Minnesota’s oldest African-American newspaper, while freelancing out of his home in Uptown Minneapolis. Jim was creative director at Redleaf Press for eleven years and has worked with the White House News Photographers Association since 2006 as the project manager and designer of The Eyes of History, an annually published book of more than one thousand award-winning photographs taken by the world’s best photojournalists. Before reentering the publishing world, Jim worked with several ad agencies in Minneapolis and managed the creative department for Ernst & Young’s San Francisco / Northern California offices. A Rhode Island native, Jim is also a singer-songwriter and most recently sang around town with the Puritones. Jim holds dual citizenship with the U.S. and Ireland and traveled to Ireland in June 2018 finding previously unknown family in County Mayo. Jim is married to Jen Connell, an acupuncturist, and together they have a fourteen-year-old son, Ian.


September 11, 2019
4:30 pm


Open Book, Target Auditorium
1011 Washington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55415 United States
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