Cover Design

Having chickened out of the crowd funding and feeling a little down in the dumps - something exciting happened - my book cover was designed.

To begin with I thought - I am self publishing I can do most of this myself - I can get a friend to design a cover etc etc  - how wrong I was -  cover designers are experts in their field and if you are an independent author, you need to employ the right people to make your book the best, to enable it to compete with millions of others - that means spending money on design and editing, but it's a necessary business expense - it's something I didn't consider at the time.

Having received a recommendation for Design for Writers and in particular Andrew Brown, I made contact and was impressed by their customer service and the time they took getting to know me and the ideas behind my book. So....

We signed the contract - then the real work began. Here are just some of the questions I had to answer before Andrew even started on the cover design. It shows how seriously this company takes its work.

  • Genre: What genre would you consider to be the best match for your book? 
  • Setting: What is the setting for the book? Consider location, seasons and period. 
  • Themes: Outline the key themes of your book. 
  • Protagonists: Who are the main characters in the book? What are the essential physical characteristics (if any) of those main characters? 
  • Perspective: From whose perspective is the plot given in your book? 
  • Synopsis: enter your synopsis or book overview. 
  • Tone: What is the tone of your writing in this book? 
  • Cultural references: Are there any particular cultural references (art, political, social, etc) in the book which may help to inform the design process? 
  • Key words: What words would best describe what you feel this cover should convey to potential readers?
  • Target market: Who do you expect will buy your book? Consider factors such as age, gender, wealth as guidelines.
  • Readers: Put yourself in the shoes of your readers - what would you expect them to feel (emotions, experiences) as they read the book? 
  • Poster scenes: Are there any key moments or images ("poster scenes") which you could freeze-frame in the book, and which may be a good basis for the cover? 
  • Good design: Identify (with links to Amazon where possible) some examples of what you consider to be good examples of cover design. Where possible, state why. 

These were my examples:

  • Similar books: Imagine your book on the Amazon website. Which other (existing) books would you expect to see listed under the heading: "People who read this also read..."? Provide links to those books on Amazon.
  • Bad design: Identify (with links to Amazon where possible) some examples of what you consider to be bad examples of cover design. Where possible, state why. 
  • Ideas & inspiration: Outline any ideas and suggestions you have for the cover design, which you would like to be taken into account during the design process. 
  • Red lines: Is there anything that you would absolutely like to rule out of the design (any colours, elements, fonts, images, etc)? 

Once I had answered these questions, plus some supplementary ones, Andrew got started on the design and a couple of weeks later I had two covers to decide on.

What a choice, I thought they were both brilliant, but I decided on the first one - I had seen nothing like it and thought it would really stand out. So I wrote back to Andrew asking for the first cover with a couple of tweeks. Then, after not sleeping for a few days at 2:30 in the morning I wrote this:

Hi Andrew
You will think I am crazy - but it’s 2:40 am and I am still thinking about covers - and I think I have changed my mind !! Sorry !! Hopefully I have caught you before you began work - I think I like cover two best now

Andrew must have been going crazy but then the following morning I wrote:

Hi Andrew
Thanks for being so understanding I am sorry to be such a pain - it just means so much to me - as I said I had a change of heart at 3am but I think it was an early morning panic attack. Can we go back to proof one please. I am so sorry.

If he was fed up with me he never showed it and was brilliant throughout the process, which as a newbie involved a lot of handholding.

The cover gradually evolved as follows:

A different filter

Shooting Star and Soldier added

Just Shooting Star

Shooting Star plus Stars /Snow

The final design

As you can see I tried a few ideas and took notice of Andrew's suggestion - I wanted a little more on the front that told the story, hence we tried the soldier, seagull and star. Andrew advised less is sometimes best and as you can see the second example was far too messy, so we agreed on just the shooting star. Andrew then added the other far away stars and that was the clincher for me because they looked like snow, which fitted with the title Cold Sunflowers and made things magical.

We included the seagull on the back cover, which looks like this:

So that was it - it was a brilliant, exciting, experience and I would recommend Design for Writers to anyone, they were fantastic.

Next post - Editing (or how I lost 10000 words without even trying) - ohhh goodness!!


  1. Andrew
    19/03/2018 / 3:42 pm

    Beautiful cover

    • marksippings
      19/03/2018 / 4:02 pm

      Thanks Andrew – I was really pleased with it and it was a great experience

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