Catch of a Lifetime coverDon’t you just love this book cover? I might be a tad bit biased toward my debut novel launching in a couple of months, but I could stare at this design for hours. I actually have the cover image hanging above my computer as motivation as I work on the marketing pieces.

Why is a cover so important? They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to picking a new book to read, the cover is the first thing to catch your attention and make you want to find out more. While the blurb, back cover, first page, and reviews all factor into making a final decision, that glimpse of the characters, setting, and mood from the cover design goes a long way toward capturing a reader’s imagination.

So, I thought it would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes peek into the process of designing a book cover.

For me, the process started about a month after signing the publisher’s contract. While I was still in the middle of the initial round of requested revisions, I received a cover design information form to fill out. It started with the basics of the title, author, tag line (like bestselling or award-winning author) followed by the genre and very short synopsis. This tells the designer what text has to go on the cover and starts them thinking about general ideas since a contemporary romance is very different from a suspense, a western historical, or a dystopian.

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Next up were a series of questions about the specific setting, the theme of the novel, the tone, the mood or emotion I wanted to invoke in the reader, what would compel a reader to want to read it, and the hook from the first few pages. These all factor in toward picking background images and even color schemes. I mentioned the college football setting, a bit of dramatic tone like the ticking clock at the end of a close game between rivals, a football-hater who has to work with the football team, and the hero’s potential choice between the game and the woman he loves. Can you see how those elements were included?

Cassie Parker imageThen it was time to provide details about the hero and heroine such as hair color, eyes, build, distinguishing features. I even listed the types of clothes they would wear in a typical day as well as props like a whistle, clipboard, or headset. Then, I was asked to cast my hero and heroine with an actor or actress to further clarify how I saw them. I also included these internet photos I used for inspiration while writing the story. (Can you see a resemblance with the cover model?)

Reed Worthington imageThe last section of questions allowed me to describe how I pictured the cover. Did I see a couple on the front, just one or the other, or even just a landscape-based design? I then had to provide up to three Amazon links to comparable books so the designer could get even more ideas while keeping within the current market appeal.

Whew! My input on the cover was done and the waiting began. My managing editor did run a few stock photo images past me for my opinion but when she found this model, I knew we’d found Cassie. There was a specific cover designer my publisher wanted and so we had to wait our turn for their time.

I’m not sure how many conversations took place between my editor and the designer, but eventually we got our front cover image and the advanced-reader-copies were printed. Yet, as I held the book in my hands, I realized that the teaser quote was hard to see against the blue background. I wasn’t the only one who voiced the same concern so my editor had some adjustments made to a lighter color that is much more readable than the image above. At the same time, the back cover design was finalized to provide continuity from the front.

It’s a long process from idea to finished product and I’m so grateful my publisher has done a fabulous job of including authors along the way.

What about you? Do you judge books by their covers? What elements from my idea form did you see implemented in the final product? Can you see the hidden “Bling!” element?

P.S. If you like to reserve a copy now, Catch of a Lifetime is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Behind the Scenes: Designing a Book Cover
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