What Book Cover Designers Wish Authors Knew

When an author goes the route of traditional book publishing, it can be a relief to have publishing team members lend their expertise to the process. However, those who haven’t been through this process may not be aware how much of the design process is guided by publishing professionals rather than the author’s direct input.

To help us understand what to expect as a book moves through the publishing process, hope*writers sat down with book cover designer Mark Lane, a professional designer with Tyndale House Publishers.

He gives authors a few pointers on how to work with their book designer for results everyone will love.


Remember Publishing is a Team Effort

As authors, much of our time is spent writing alone. We don’t often invite others into the writing process until we’ve completed our work and sent it to our editor for review. However, when you work with a traditional publisher, the design process is in progress behind the scenes by the time you begin to write your chapters.

Once the book moves into the design phase, it becomes an increasingly collaborative effort at the publishing house. The acquisitions editor, art director, and book cover designer are three integral players on the team that creates your book cover.


Provide Early Input

Because the book design process begins early in the stages of book publishing, many designers provide an intake form for authors to complete. This form allows an author to share their likes and dislikes, their vision for the cover, and the feel they want to convey in their work. 

The intake form gives the author an opportunity to influence the design process before it’s too late to make changes. In addition to the form, some authors send photos, art, album covers, or Pinterest boards with inspiration for their book cover, which can be helpful to designers as they begin to explore design choices. 

The more information an author provides early in the process, the better. 


Trust the Process

While authors are the experts in expressing ourselves through words, it’s important to remember that the book designer and the publishing team are the experts in publishing. We need to allow for a comfortable give and take between everyone involved in bringing our books to readers.

If you’ve chosen to publish traditionally, you won’t have control over a number of factors in the process. This can be frustrating, but it’s an advantage to have a team on your side who know how to put books on bookshelves.

Give Honest Feedback

What do you do if you don’t like a proposed book design? Mark suggests you describe what you don’t like without being demeaning to the designer. This is not the time to have a friend or spouse mock up a new design and send it to the publisher as an alternative. 

We need to approach our design feedback as sensitively as we would expect someone to provide feedback on our words. Give an honest response with care for the designer who labored over the artwork. Analyze the design itself, not the designer, to avoid responding out of heightened emotions.

With honest and early feedback, you can help designers and the entire publishing team create a book you can all be proud of publishing.

Want to know more about the artistic process of designing a book cover? Mark gives behind-the-scenes details on book design and tells us how he “stalks” writers! Click here for free access to our entire conversation with Mark and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.



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