Friday, February 11, 2011

Please, judge my book covers

One of the things I've been most looking forward to is creating the cover design for Annie Begins. Book cover design combines everything I love most about art -- graphics, fonts, and (mostly) abstract images. I discovered the Book Cover Archive and became an instant devotee -- poring over page after page of fantastic, inspiring design. I particularly loved the work of Henry Sene Yee who turns out to be the creative director of Picador. His work is amazing but he didn't respond to my email asking if he does freelance work. (In the small world department: the latest cover on his blog is for a new book by Wesley Stace, also known as John Wesley Harding, who is a musician as well as a writer and performed tonight at the City Winery. I'm a big fan of his, too.)  Through the Book Cover Archive I clicked my way around and eventually found a boutique design shop and fell in love with their work as well. Some indie or self publishers do their own book cover design or rely on the templates provided by the author services companies. I think some of these present fine options, but I am sticking to my strategy which is to replicate the quality of a traditional publisher and for that I needed some skills. And I don't  have them. (Evidence: my default graphic design program is, ahem, PowerPoint.)  The design boutique could do a custom, from-scratch cover that would in my estimation compare favorably to any Book Cover Archive entry and likely cost $2500-3500.  Yikes! (I knew it would be an investment...these guys are artistes.)

Then I discovered a really exciting option through  Tangent Covers which would allow me to customize from a selection of 21 extremely well-designed template covers for an order of magnitude less than a custom option. I thought it over for a day and, as precious as my project is to me, I concluded this is not a baby, it’s a book, and hopefully the first of many, and I needed to start making smart economic decisions with my calculator and not just my heart, and decided that the Tangent Covers option was a truly excellent one, especially since they were having a 2 for 1 deal.  I asked them to produce two covers for me so that I could have some choice. And here, to the left, are the first round covers from that process.  So now I'm in the process of gathering feedback and getting ready for the second round of edits with the folks at Tangent Covers. Comments welcome!!


  1. I love both of these covers. I know what the book is about, but haven't read it yet (can't wait for the pub date!), so I'm torn about which one I like better. When I picture myself browsing in a bookstore, I think I would be more drawn to the purple cover, just because it seems more unique. I love the girl walking--and feel that it goes really well with the title--but it reminds me a bit of the "Girl's Guide With Hunting and Fishing." Of course, that's one of the best-selling chick-lit novels of all time, so maybe that's not a bad thing!

  2. Michelle, I'm so glad you posted on this. I have been aching to get to the cover design phase of my book project but not sure where to go for help. I agree with you - a self-published author does well to invest in as professional looking a cover as possible. That said... the purple one is excellent (I read about Annie Begins on your book site) and feels like it suits the tone of the book more. The bottom one makes me think too much about urban girl chick lit, which it didn't feel like Annie Begins is exactly. It felt deeper than that from the book description. If I saw the top cover on Amazon, I honestly wouldn't know it was self-published. Very good.

  3. Whitney and Melissa, thank you so much for your comments! I agree with you both, and yet the support for the girl walking was overwhelming among target readers. Melissa, I have a soft spot for the butterfly cover, too! And, if you'd like any help in thinking through the cover dilemma, now that I'm almost through, I'd be happy to share more detailed lessons learned.