Book Covers and Authors

When it comes time to design a book cover, I generally send authors a note something like this:

Thinking about cover design: This is a series, correct, so we want a design that can transfer from book to book, a branding so to speak. With thrillers, it’s normal to see the author’s name as large as the title. I’ll try different things, but that the standard. 

Over the next days/weeks while you’re working on revisions, take some time to go to a bookstore (online is just fine). Look at thriller covers and photograph or make a file of the ones you like and forward those to me. I’ll come up with my own ideas, but I like to work with the authors’ tastes as much as possible.

Today, I’m sharing with you this excellent response from author Stuart Safft. I can’t tell you how helpful this is to a designer. Expectations are right up front, saving time for everyone.

I need to preface my comments with the admission that my artistic sense is 0.0.  If my wife didn’t choose which shirt I wore with which pants, I might look like a clown.

None the less, here are some of my thoughts about the cover.

  • The font should be straight forward, easy to read; nothing fancy.  The letters should be large and thick so that they can be read from a distance.  The writing should probably be in a bright color (red?) to attract attention.
  • The font size should be large.  I prefer my name to be in slightly smaller size than the title.
  • There should be a picture on the cover.

o   It should be fairly simple, not too intricate requiring analysis.

o   It should probably be below the text.

o   It should relate to the story, without giving away too much, too soon.

o   One possibility could be the scene in the kitchen when Steve first finds Ellen missing (but it may be too “blah”): “Spilled coffee was pooled around her cup.  Her briefcase, with her laptop, smartphone and keys on top of it, was on the counter, with the briefcase corner soaking in the pool of spilled coffee.”

  • Should the cover also say something like “A Joe McFarland/Ginny Harris  [or Ginny Harris/ Joe McFarland]  Mystery” or is it too cumbersome and/or too soon with Novel #1 of the series-to-be?

From Covers I Like

image004 image005 image009 image007 image017 image019

From Hardcopies: Covers I Like

I like this one (and not because you designed it for Peter!)


From Covers I dislike

Picture doesn’t say anything about the story, and other than author’s name, copy too hard to read


image032 image030

Relevance of picture?


Too dark; hard to read.


Hard to read.  Confusing picture.


Hard to read text


Picture overshadows text

image050 image051 image052

Too cute for a mystery

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