More About Book Covers: Working with a Cover Designer

June Hyjek - Unexpected GraceThis last blog post in our three-part series on book cover design talks about working with a book cover designer. But before we do that, let’s briefly discuss how to know if your book cover will work to make your book a success.

Well, after the writing is done, it’s time for you to put on your business hat and do some research into what the buyer likes. A good way of doing this is to study book covers in your genre, and then to communicate your findings to your cover designer. You can borrow “best seller credibility” from proven bestsellers, because when a book LOOKS like a best seller, there is a better chance of that becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now a few hints about working with a book cover designer:

  • Choose a designer who specializes in book covers. It’s harder for designers who specialize in, for example, brochures and posters, to understand how the elements work together on a book cover.
  • Ask for references from the designer, or if you are still searching for a designer, ask your friends and colleagues for a referral.
  • Ask to see the designer’s portfolio. Compare the portfolio to the covers of best sellers on Amazon. Does the designer’s work stand up to the best sellers? The portfolio will give you a hint as to what you can expect (take a look at the 1106Design cover portfolio here).
  • Clarify your expectations upfront. What does the designer need? What do they expect from you? What is your budget? How many revisions are included in the cost? What do additional revisions cost, and are they charged by the hour? Tell the designer your deadline, especially if you need books for an event.
  • Know what you are getting, so that there are no surprises!

Book Cover Makeover

This week’s book cover makeover shows again how a cover must convey the right message and let potential readers know immediately what they can expect from your book.


Bookcover makeover - BeforeThis is an example of a book cover that does not tell us what the book is about and in fact, presents mixed messages. This book is a memoir but we can’t tell that from the illustration or the title. Don’t make the reader work too hard to discover what the book is about, because if it’s too much work, they won’t do it! (In fact the back cover copy on this book is too dense and long; here’s a short blog post on writing effective back cover copy.)

The image on the cover looks like it belongs on a murder mystery. The image of the sea, the bed, the red blanket…it’s a very high-contrast image and any text on top of it is hard to read, no matter what font is used. As a result, the title is hemmed in at the top of the cover, and needs more breathing room. All in all, it’s a disturbing cover!


Book cover makeover - AfterWe gave the book more of a memoir look and feel with an “old-feeling” photo. We arranged the elements in a collage, similar to a scrapbook, and scrapbooks usually reflect memories. Because the top of the image is neutral, we can make the title smaller and less disturbing.

The book now has a feel that says it’s a book of stories written by a woman. In the image, the woman is staring at the ocean and reflecting on her life. The ocean represents something that is emotional and it is pulling her in. We are trying to communicate some emotion in this cover, while at the same time indicating that the book is a memoir.



Cover Samples: We have updated our book cover samples with new covers that were designed in the last year. Click here to take a look!

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