Creating a Book Cover

Publicist note from Zachary Vietz

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when designing a book cover? There is a lot of planning, design, and deliberation going on before a cover makes its debut appearance.

Let’s take a sneak peek.

The Creative Brief

Before anything concrete takes form, the book team first reads the title a few times, taking notes of emotions, imagery, symbols, colors, and other touchstone and descriptive aspects from the story. These notes are used to make a creative brief that is then sent along to our designer. The book team might be just Dr. Kelley and me, but as a teaching press, we have our fair share of book teams comprised of students in our publishing courses at NDSU.

Here you can see parts of a creative brief, the book team being NDSU Publishing students, made for our upcoming title Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler:

Colors that came to mind are:

    • pale yellow gold
    • dark green, but not a healthy green
    • red/violence/blood
    • red of sandhill crane/red crest on face

Sensory imagery:

    • cypress trees
    • use of manure for insulation
    • oppressive swamp bugs
    • boils and wounds
    • man’s eyeball the size of a softball (from being beaten)
    • sand hill cranes
    • trains, train tracks, roads

From the Designer to the Team

Once we send the creative brief to the designers, we let them do their artistic thing. Depending on how many projects a designer has, we expect to see draft designs within a few weeks. The book team will first receive from the designer around three potential cover images to look over. The job of the book team at this point is to choose what they do and do not like about the cover images, how they may be improved, and other design aspects as appropriate. Keep in mind, these initial images are not the finished product, and the team’s feedback helps to shape the final cover image.

Here you can see some of the initial cover images sent to us by our very own award-winning designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen:

The Final Product

After receiving our feedback, the designer goes to work and eventually comes to us with a finished product. This is the culmination of the book team reading over and distilling the main concepts and emotion from the title, and a skilled designer who can put our words and concepts into imagery.

It is quite the pairing of skills, and you can see the results below. We hope you like it.

HalfTerribleThings-Front

Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler will be available in October 2020.

 

Zach
This article is contributed by Zachary Vietz, Graduate Assistant in Publishing. Zach specializes in publicity and marketing. He is now in the third semester of his Master’s in English program at North Dakota State University.  

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