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Point of View: The Cover Design Process

I am stealing this column from my blog tour stop at Elizabeth Noble’s Emotion in Motion blog. It was one of my favorites on the tour, and so I wanted to share it directly with y’all as well:

​I LOVE working with an artist on the cover for a new book. It’s your chance as an author to see your work through someone else’s eyes, made real. I’ve been through the process three times now, and it’s been fun every time (at least for me; I’ve probably sent at least one cover designer away screaming).

This time around, I was working with the talented Catherine Dair. She had read my story (which was really cool) and had an idea for the cover. She pitched it, and I loved it. I thought it would be fun to walk you through the process.

The first step was to decide what the cover should actually depict. I had suggested a certain scene near the end of the book. But Catherine read it and had a better idea:

“So when I was reading, I *loved* this image: ‘Cas rummaged through his carry sack, pulling out a dark ball the size of his palm. He rubbed it together between his hands and it lit with a golden light, lifting up to float over his shoulder. “A will-o’-the-wisp,” he said softly. Its warm glow lit up Jerrith’s beautiful features, reflecting in his deep brown eyes. Jerrith stared at it wonderingly. “Just a little earth magic,” Cas said with a grin.’ I love the idea of showing them early in the journey together, and showing this bit of magic, enticing readers of what is to come.’

I loved the idea. So she got to work, and in a couple days she sent me a character sketch:


It was rough, but I loved the feeling of it. I made a few minor suggestions, and then she asked me about the background. The Autumn Lands takes place in an alien land, so we settled on teardrop trees from the story. A couple days later I got my trees:


It’s really cool to see these things come together layer by layer. The next thing was to layer the characters on top. I got Cas first:


Then Jerrith wandered in…


A little glow from the wisp, and we had a cover.


So how do y’all create your covers? Do you work with a cover designer that your publisher assigns? Do you do your own? What do you love about the process, and what do you hate? And what makes a successful cover design?

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