I am so excited to share the cover of my book this month!! I actually got the email with the cover image in late February, but this is one of those aspects of the book that I’ve needed to keep under wraps until the right time. Based on the marketing schedule for my book, the right time to reveal is now! (Actually, a couple of weeks ago, when the book became available for pre-order on Amazon!)
I knew that all of the book design and photography would be taken care of by my editorial team at Stash Books, but it still came as a little bit of a surprise to get an email out of the blue with my book cover attached. Not that I’m complaining–I love how the cover turned out, and I think it’s absolutely perfect for this book. But having a copy of the cover just show up on my electronic doorstep without any work on my part was one of those publishing experiences that felt a little unexpected.
One of the things that my designer, April Mostek, wrote in her email was that my team thought the cover would contribute to the sales of my book, which was a little surprising to me. I suppose I take selling into account when I’m designing my stand-alone pattern covers. I take care to select the best possible photo and make the cover attention-getting and attractive, but I’ve always thought of this in terms of making a “pretty” cover–one that shows my work in the best possible light. I’ve never really thought of it in terms of selling the pattern, even though, when you get right down to it, that’s what showing one’s work in the best light does. But April’s comment made me think about the job a cover does in a completely different light. It not only has to be pretty, it has to promote its book and make people want to pick it up, flip through it, and buy it.
As I was considering this newfound insight into the work a book cover has to do, I thought it might be interesting to learn more about the design process and considerations from a designer’s point of view. April generously agreed to let me interview her about the book cover design process, and I’m thrilled to be able to present her insights here!
C: The cover for my book was designed long before the pages, which I think readers will find surprising. What are the reasons for this?
A: The book cover sets the foundation for the design style that will be used throughout the book. While the content is being edited, the designers and photographers work on getting a visual direction for the book. The front cover also makes several promotional appearences before the book is ready. Our marketing department is always busy working to get the word out there about our new releases!
C: What considerations go into designing a book cover?
A: A book cover has so many things to be considered. As a designer, my personal favorite part is the actual design, but we also explore the intended audience, how the book will be displayed, current competition, current trends, and what really sets this book apart from the rest. We have a series of meetings to figure out the answers to these questions before the book cover is designed. The publisher, the marketing department, the editors, and the designers have a chance to weigh in on how to make the cover stand out.
C: Do you have a personal process for designing covers, or does it tend to vary from one project to another?
A: My process does vary from book to book, but I tend to follow two main paths. Sometimes during the preliminary meetings, the direction is so clear and I’m able to visualize exactly how I will approach the cover. Other times, I need a bit more time to dig into the material. In all cases, I do my homework. I usually check the notes from the meetings, and I also look at competitive and comparative books to see what else is out there. If the author has a website or blog, I like to gain some inspiration from those. When I have a grip on the material, I start throwing some ideas on a page. Although I work digitally, I do have a “sketch” phase to each of my designs. Once the ideas are somehow on the page, it’s easier to decide if it’s a design worth pursuing and refining or if it’s back to the drawing board. I create at least three solid ideas, then present those ideas to the cover review team: the publisher, the creative director, the director of marketing, and the art director. Once the cover has met their approval, it is routed to the book team and the author.
C: What type of team do you work with, if any? What is the collaborative experience like?
A: Each book is assigned a book team, which includes editors, a designer, photographers and a coordinator. This team guides the book through the whole production process until the final book is sent to the printer. We also have a lot of input from the cover review team (listed above) during the preliminary meetings for the book. During those meetings, a cover image, the title and subtitle are chosen. The actual design process is both collaborative and very personal. I like to start with a “group think,” but then for the design I need time to myself to flesh out those ideas.
C: What type of input does the book author have in the cover and book design process? How do you go about translating their input into the finished designs?
A: Often times, an author will send some design ideas in their book package, but I also gain some insight to their design style by viewing previous books, or their website and/or blog. The photography is another guide when it comes to the design direction. During the preliminary meetings, the cover image, title and subtitle are chosen and sent to the author for approval. Once the author and book team are on board with a general direction for the cover, we work on refining a final design. For the book design, we send out a design memo to find out likes/dislikes. We want our authors to love their book!
C: How did you get into designing books for Stash Books? Any recommendations for readers who might want to explore book design as a possible career direction?
A: I started working in publishing right out of college, and I’m lucky to be able to say it has always been my true career love. I’ve worked for a few different publishing companies, but I started at C&T three years ago. I think graphic design in general is a career that is constantly evolving. It’s a technology-based career, and also a trend-based career, so I have to work hard to stay on top of how quickly things change. I think the best thing you can do to pursue any career in design is to keep learning, roll with the changes, and try not to take criticism too hard.
I’d like to thank April for her candid and detailed answers to my questions, and for being willing to share a peek into her process with my readers! I hope you found her insights as interesting as I did! Thanks again for reading about Crafting a Book and, as always, if you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments!