The Creative Process of Book Covers

by | Jan 31, 2021 | Creativity

The Creative Process of Book Covers - Jennifer PhillipsI’m a hybrid author – both traditionally and self-published. For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of self-publishing has turned out to be the involvement level in creating the book cover.

Here’s a bit on how I collaborated with book designer Roberta Morris on this process for the recent second editions of my three children’s biographies on Robert Wadlow, Elijah Lovejoy and Nina Kosterina.

To keep this post from getting waaayyy too long, I put examples of the mock-ups in this handout.

The overall process we followed was generally the same for each:

1. Decide whether to create an illustrated cover. In each case, we chose to stick with using historical imagery combined with other design elements. Cost was a factor, but I also felt we had good options.

2. Research other book covers in the genre for inspiration (this is super fun).

3. Zero in on the mood and heart of the story you want conveyed at a glance (can be harder than it looks).

4. Create several mockups, factoring in the book’s title and trim size.

5. Resize as a thumbnail image to ensure it will work for marketing and sales.

6. Get beta reader feedback if possible.

Nailing down the tone, mood and imagery most important to the story — this experience was so helpful that I have started to mock up my own rough covers for other stories I have in development, even if they will be going out on submission with traditional publishers.

Doing cover mockups as a writer is a way to play around with titles, colors, images, what gets emphasized and why. Those insights feed back into story development. I don’t pretend to be a designer, but it’s a satisfying exercise in creativity and I highly recommend it.

Has anyone else given this a try? If so, let me know what your process is like and what benefits you’ve gained from doing this.

Here’s the link again to see how we tackled my biography covers.