Designing a book cover

Self publishers aside, the process for the publisher in designing a book cover may be in-house or contracted to a specialist book designer.

The final design may not use a photograph of course, and I am not here to about graphic art.

The designer will often read the book to get a feel for the cover which will hit the correct note. Then a number of roughs will be made, and the design discussed with the publisher, marketing teams and maybe the author and literary agent.

Everybody on the team will want the final book cover to get the essential message over to the potential reader – this book is worth your attention. It is a promise and should aim big. Of course the contents of the book then have to live up to it – or it might become that proverb we all know.

For sure you cannot tell a book by its cover, but it goes a long way towards persuading you to part with your money and your time to find out.


Using a photograph

If a photograph is being used, the designer will usually request a comp of the image from the image agent to test designs before purchasing the image. They are free to use the image as they see fit, often overlaying more than one image to reach the final design.

Once the final cover is chosen, if your photograph has been used your agent will negotiate the fee. The deal will depend on factors such as sales area, number of copies to be published, exclusivity etc. America is the largest market attracting the highest fees.

You then just have to sit back and wait for the print run and eventual payment which can take months.

Here is a nice 5 minute YouTube clip from Random House about the design process.