A couple weeks ago, I opened an email from the art director of my publisher entitled "Cover Design Introduction."
Ahh ... covers.
You've heard the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover," which means don't judge something by its outward appearance.
But truth be told—don't we do that ALL THE TIME about many things?
Especially with books.
Does the cover make a potential reader curious about what's inside? Does it turn them on or repel them? Does it make them want to investigate further to find out what the book is really about?
Covers—and titles—define the book's concept or "feel"—in seconds. A potential reader will either be turned on or turned off or feel neutral by that first impression, which will play a huge role in whether they pick up the book for a second look.
As stated above, your cover AND title define a concept—so they need to be aligned with each other. This means you need to be clear about what you want your book to communicate—what is the story about? What's the big idea? What's the takeaway for the reader? How can that message/point/takeaway be communicated visually?
If you're self-publishing, you're solely responsible for your cover design, which is good news or bad news depending on your perspective! Whether you design the cover yourself or hire a cover designer (strongly recommended in most cases), you'll want to get a feel for what you like, what has sold well, and you'll want to see other covers that the designer has created.
If you're using a hybrid publisher, your publisher provides cover design as part of the services you're paying for. In most cases, your cover design will be a collaborative process, with you sharing ideas and reference materials: things related to the story, other covers you love, and the feeling you'd like conveyed with the cover. The publisher may come back with several designs for you to choose from—and ultimately you get the final say.
If your book is being published by a traditional publisher, as is the case for my memoir The Only Way Through Is Out, the publishing team asks for input from the author, similar to what I shared above about the design process with a hybrid publisher, but the publisher gets the final say on the cover.
Want to learn more about the different publication paths? Check out this informational chart.
I'm so grateful that I spoke up and advocated for myself—and that my publisher listened. To me, this is the ideal partnership—one where I lean on their expertise about what sells and why—and they care enough about my preferences to listen to my concerns.
I'm thrilled to share the FINAL cover of The Only Way Through Is Out with you!