When people buy a book, their choice depends on many factors: recommendation, a favourite author, a catchy title, a genre they like and so on. The cover also has a big influence on book buying. For that reason, instead of exercising my minimal (no, zero) design skills on my forthcoming collection of short stories set in France, I commissioned a cover designer.
And I’m jolly glad I did. I was already on a vertiginous learning curve just in formatting the inside of the book and making sure everything was done in the right order. Designing my own cover on top would have been a bridge too far.
Finding someone on your wavelength
Clearly, you want to find a designer who clicks with you and can interpret your half-baked (in my case) ideas. My advice is to choose some book covers you like and find out who designed them. The designer is often credited on the copyright page or in the acknowledgements.
This led me to JD Smith (JD Smith Design), who has designed covers that I really like. Jane sent me a detailed explanation of the way she works, which was amazingly helpful for a novice like me.
Five easy steps
Step 1: Jane asked me to provide:
- A brief, setting out what look I wanted, the genre of the book and a blurb or description. I also explained that I was looking to establish a “brand image” – a phrase I hate, but you gotta accept it these days as an author.
- Links to covers of published books that appeal to me.
It’s helpful to think in advance about those things, rather than making it up on the hoof.
Step 2: Jane sent me about 25 images that she thought represented the book’s contents. I chose five that seemed to do what I wanted, in order of preference.
Step 3: five designs then appeared in my inbox, each based on one of the chosen images. Frankly, they were all brilliant and I could have gone with any of them. Interestingly, the two images I had liked best worked least well as book covers, but one of the others stood out to me.
Step 4: Jane took that one design and tried five different treatments on it – font type and size, position of title and author name, and so on. Again, one stood out to me.
Step 5: Jane tweaked that one to make the title stand out better. Then I knew we were there. The result is at the top of this post.
Jane supplied cover images of different sizes for use on social media. She’s also working on the paperback, which is just waiting for the ISBN to arrive and to determine final pagination.
This was a remarkably painless process, partly because Jane is so well-organised and partly because she is very good at interpreting a brief. I am delighted with my cover: it’s so much more professional and apposite than anything I could have produced myself.
French Collection: Twelve Short Stories will be launched on Thursday 9th November 2017. Full publication details to follow.
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Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2017, all rights reserved.