Working on Blubber Island
In 2012, Guillermo Galvan wrote Blubber Island for his sister to brighten up her world.
The cover used a meme with a black cat and plain Sans serif font that said, "So Jiggly" at the bottom. Even the text within the book differed between Times New Roman and Old English. The back cover was blank--not a single bar code or word about Blubber Island.
From a designer's perspective, it was a hot, inconsistent mess.
While the aesthetics of the book needed an overhaul, Blubber Island's core plot was reminiscent of a Haruki Murakami story with the adventures straight out of a demented Roald Dahl tale. As the updated synopsis says, the story begins when neuroscientist Elis Davidson removes a dream from his mind and captures it inside a receptacle, causing an inter-dimensional tear opened to cosmic annihilation.
The gem of a plot existed, but the fundamental book creation was flimsy at best. It was fine--for a book that Galvan did not plan to release to the public. Encouraged by his wife, Galvan revised his manuscript and released the official first edition of Blubber Island using the Amazon CreateSpace platform. This time, the cover featured a drawing from his childhood, a yellow straight-lipped smiley face, and a synopsis and barcode on the back. While the cover of the book related to its content, the images and text needed improvements. The narrow margins, overuse of italics and all-capitalized text, and lack of separation between chapters made the first edition another amateur book. However ugly the book looked and read, Blubber Islander's grassroots marketing garnered fans and speculation into the author on Goodreads and Amazon.
Galvan's response to the feedback was to use five years studying English, reading books and comics, and writing. He spent time between 2012 and 2017 studying the art of English and reading books by Haruki Murakami (1Q84), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (100 Years of Solitude), Toni Morrison (Playing in the Dark), John Fante (Ask the Dust), Carl Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections), Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), Noam Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent), and William Shakespeare. He wasn't the only one improving his craft. I used the five years to read and understand marketing by reading marketing books from Martin Lindstrom (Small Data) and Seth Godin (Permission Marketing), getting a foundation diploma in digital marketing, assisting local minority-owned businesses with marketing and graphic design, and taking marketing classes towards an Associate of Art degree.
In 2017, Galvan edited Blubber Island again with the intent to make the second edition professional in both aesthetics and reading. His short stint studying computer programming sharpened his editing skills to where he edited Blubber Island in a week. Readying the manuscript for publication meant understanding the formatting guidelines from CreateSpace and going through printed proofs with a critical eye.