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How My Book Cover Was Designed

When I visited my publishing house a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Creative Director of the Design Team and talk with him about my book cover. He led me step by step through fascinating process of how they developed it.

Before I describe this process, however, I need to issue a disclaimer. Not all publishing houses develop book covers the same way. I’m sure even within Bethany House, covers are not all designed in an identical manner.

In addition, the process of cover development may vary between genres. As most of us know, historical romance is currently a popular genre. The costume and designs of past eras often fascinate modern readers. Thus the covers of historical romances may elicit more time and money than other genre covers.

All that to say, the Bethany House Design Team worked very hard on my book cover, and during my visit, I got a glimpse of how it was made.

First, the Creative Director showed me three large bulletin boards in his office. One board was filled with replicas of all the book covers he had developed for spring releases. Another board contained the book covers for summer. And the last board was still mostly empty, waiting for fall covers.

He rubbed his hand over a spot on the fall board and said, “Yours will go right here.” And I just melted. “Really?”

To prove it, he pulled out the file for my book and opened it. There were the initial sketches and plans for the cover, the notes describing the heroine, and all the other information that would help in the design.

Next he explained that they’d looked through the portfolios of models they have on file, found one similar to my heroine, and arranged a photo shoot. They rented the appropriate clothing for the time period, met with the model, and took over 500 pictures.

Fortunately I had the opportunity to sit down in the office of the graphic designer who was at that very moment working on my cover. She showed me several of the possibilities she’d already designed as well as the one she was currently focusing on. Fonts, swirls, background colors, facial expressions, the countryside setting—I was amazed at the attention they give to every detail.

Of course I didn’t get to see the finished product before I left, but I did get to take home a souvenir—a picture of the model, the woman who would now represent my heroine to the world. And for the record, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect model if I’d tried.

In the ensuing weeks, a committee met and discussed the pros and cons of each cover option. They settled upon the one they all liked best and emailed it to me and my agent for our thoughts.

More about my reaction in the next post . . .

We all hear how important the cover is, especially for debut authors. Our names won’t attract readers to pick up our books. The cover has to catch the reader’s eye first. Once the reader picks it up, then the back cover blurb and first page have to seal the deal. But without a compelling cover, we may not get a chance to tempt readers at all.

When my book sits on the shelf next to all of the other books with beautifully designed covers, I can only speculate what will draw someone to pick mine up or pass over it for someone else’s. I hope my cover draws readers, but I have no guarantees.

But I want to thank the very talented Bethany House Creative Team for all their hard work on my cover. The beauty of their design at least gives The Preacher’s Bride a fighting chance.

What do you think of how my book cover was made? Surprised by anything? What makes you pass over some covers and draws you to others?

63 comments:

  1. It is fascinating !!! Can't wait to see it.. and, of course - read it!

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  2. How exciting! It's wonderful that you were included in the process. Can't wait to see it. : )

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  3. Really exciting, and I can't wait to read about yours an Rachelle's reactions to it.

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  4. How exciting! I wonder how long it will be before they allow you to premiere the cover!?!?! :)

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  5. I think the cover is VERY important! I'm a huge "judge a book by its cover" person while in the bookstore. Now that I write and know more authors, I pay more attention to names.

    Since I'm a huge romance reader, obviously my eye is for covers that shout romance--that, and titles. Like yours, anything with the word BRIDE in it screams romance:-)

    The process sounds amazing!! Thanks for sharing! And I ditto sherrinda's question, when do we get to see?? *grin*

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  6. That is so cool! Will look forward to seeing the cover.

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  7. AWESOME! Absolutely AWESOME! How exciting for you. Jody, as I read your post my stomach had butterflies. It felt like I was there, watching everything with you.

    If I was that excited for you, then I can't imagine how wonderful it was for you, or how it will feel for me.

    Most times I pick up a book because of the cover. The book cover invites me to flip through and decide if the author can really take me to her world.

    I was surprised by the committee. An actual committee of folks figuring out which one they liked the best. FOR YOUR BOOK COVER. I can't wait to read your reaction.

    I am so eager to read your book Jody.

    Oh, thank you for showing us what we're in for. There isn't one prepubbed writer who reads this post, that won't get butterflies in their tummy. So COOL!!!!! =)

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  8. Fascinating! I love the way you got to experience so much at Bethany House.

    It must be thrilling to find others have been working so diligently on your book's behalf.

    Can't wait to see the cover.

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  9. I'm surprised at how much of the process you were able to witness. Being an artist as well as a writer, that sounds like a dream come true to me. Can't wait to see your book cover!

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  10. I am a visual person so the cover is extremely important to me. I love most of the covers I've seen in CBA and I think they are doing a great job of portraying the story with one glimpse. I think that's really important. I prefer covers with images of people, something I can connect to immediately - like Karen Kingsbury's Baxter series - I think that must be amazing to see your characters become real life people on the cover of a book. Well, you know what I mean!
    How exciting for you, Jody, and I can't wait to see it.

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  11. You are all class, Jody. I went to a reading at a book store where the author told the handful of us that she'd been very disappointed in her first novel's cover. It opened my eyes to how much control you let go. I'm so thankful you were pleased with your result.

    I'm a very visual person, so I imagine this process would be (will be ;D) thrilling.
    ~ Wendy

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  12. This was a really interesting post. I haven't a clue how I would want my book cover apart from the obvious Crystal Ball somewhere.

    CJ xx

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  13. wow,so much attention to detail! That is way cool.

    I've heard a lot about the pros and cons of putting a real person on the front cover. What do you think of this?

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  14. My publisher used a stock photo for Is That All He Thinks About? But it's great. Two hotties peeking out from under the white sheets.

    I've actually had people ask, "Is that you and your husband?"

    Um, no. ;)

    http://bit.ly/beIViZ

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  15. so exciting for you! that's a great thing to be included in the process. Can't wait to see your cover. I'm also waiting to see my cover! My publisher is too far to drive to though!

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  16. I like the way you report these experiences. It's so interesting to see the entire process of the finished product - from writing, to editing - to publishing, and art work.

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  17. I love reading about your experiences at Bethany! It's nice to hear about what happens in all those months between contract and bookstore.

    I didn't know the cover designers used models--that's really neat! I guess it makes sense, though!

    I have to agree with some of the others, a book cover can make or break a book for me--especially if it looks outdated.

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  18. Wow! What a fascinating process. I know covers are important. It's nice to know that so much time and attention is going into yours. I love the team feeling I see when I read about your experiences w/your publisher. Thanks, Jody.

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  19. Fascinating! I love how creativity is combined with business sense. 500 pictures--wow!

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  20. Oh my gosh. Fascinating! What a place you were in that day. Amazing!

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  21. HI Jody,
    Everything you've described about your publisher and how they deal with you has been so professional, I'm not surprised at the professionalism described here. I'd heard horror stories about authors not having any say in their cover design. Glad you had input and were consulted. Can't wait to see it!
    Karen

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  22. The process doesn't surprise me, but I know if, I mean when I get to that position myself I won't be able believe it.

    As for what catches my attention, it varies.

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  23. man, that must have been so amazing!

    I think book covers have come a looong way since I was a kid and I'm so very grateful for that! It can make or break a book buying decision for me, so I'm guessing it does for others as well. as much as they say 'don't judge the book by the cover' .. we all do!

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  24. Lots of work, as I suspected, goes into this.

    For me, something on the cover must pop to grab my attention if I'm not purposely heading out to buy a specific one.

    Have you shown your cover yet? I've missed some posts. Hope I didn't miss it. Going to quickly scan down to see.

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  25. I can't wait to see it, Jody! The process sounds fascinating!

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  26. Oh my goodness, this is FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for sharing this. What a positive experience, too. I've heard of some really bad experiences with covers, so I'm glad yours is going well. I can't WAIT to see it!!!

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  27. Jody: I'm so happy they allowed you some input on this project, and even gave you a model--wow!

    I've seen too many book covers done in a rush, where the heroine is blond, and the cover has her a brunette, or something equally as stupid.

    Bethany House is class all the way.

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  28. I loved hearing about your experience! I hope my cover appeals to a variety of people and not just a few. I can't wait to see your cover!

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  29. I'm looking forward to seeing (and reading!) The Preacher's Bride.

    My current not so favorite trend in book covers these days is the headless heroine/hero.

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  30. Jody, thank you for sharing this process! It's fascinating. I really had no idea how they went about choosing book covers, but this was definitely very enlightening and fun to read.

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  31. Okay Jody. This is the third time I've tried leaving a comment. Let's hope it works.

    I like Deeanne Gist's covers. You know, how the female is pictured in her all period finery but you cannot see her entire face? Very clever on the part of Bethany House.

    I'm so jazzed about your cover. I can't wait to see it. I love reading blogs and discovering new books and seeing up-and-coming works come to fruition.

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  32. I'm one of those readers who considers the cover when buying a book. I prefer pictures of people on the covers so I have a visual of characters when I'm reading the book.

    Did you have input about your cover? Do you plan to get in touch with the model who will be on your cover?

    Thanks for sharing. Very fascinating!

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  33. I love this. Thank you for the detailing! How exciting to have a model represent your heroine!!! I can honestly say that when your book launches I'll be at my local Barnes and Noble picking up a copy and raving to all the customers around me. Do you have a set date yet?

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  34. Hi Jody -

    I'm so impressed with your Bethany House experiences. They treat their authors well.

    While word-of-mouth usually perks up my interest, a stunning bookcover doesn't hurt. Some of my recent favorites include: The Silent Governess, The Apothecary's Daughter, That Certain Spark, and A Passion Most Pure.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  35. I love hearing the expert care you are getting from your Publishing House, very impressive. These are the kinds of things that really encourage us.

    You are truly blessed- thank you for sharing this blessing with all of us!

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  36. How exciting! I think for me, that would have been one of those, this is real kind of moments. Having that tangible thing to look at. WOW!!!

    www.dianeestrella.com

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  37. Wow! Lots of great questions today!

    Tamara asked: I've heard a lot about the pros and cons of putting a real person on the front cover. What do you think of this?

    My answer: I personally am drawn to books with real people--maybe because it makes the story seem more real? But I really think it's a matter of personal preference.

    Eileen asked: Have you shown your cover yet?

    My answer: No. But I will very soon! :-)

    Lisa asked: Did you have input about your cover? Do you plan to get in touch with the model who will be on your cover?

    My answer: They initially asked me for any ideas I might have for the cover and so I sent them a few suggestions. But I wasn't particular about anything and really trusted their expert design team to develop something that they knew could help sell the book. And no, I probably won't be in touch with the model, although I understand she was very thrilled to get to model for the book!

    T. Anne asked: Do you have a set date yet?

    My answer: I think you're asking about the date of the book's release. It's guaranteed to be in stores by Oct. 1, but will likely be out in some stores before that.

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  38. Isn't it exciting? Praise God that you had such a great experience!

    Seems you'd read this somewhere else, just last week, right?
    LOL and blessings.
    Patti

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  39. That is so cool! I am so happy for you!!! I know you can't wait to see the finished product--we can't either!!!

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  40. What a cool blog post! And yes, it surprised me. I especially liked the part about how he had boards with all the covers for spring and summer. Don't want to have one that's too close to another, right? I found that part fascinating.

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  41. I want to see it!!! I'm dying here! All I can think of are what colors they're using and where the title is and what the model looks like. Oh! Exciting!

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  42. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
    Ok. I'm done screaming in excitment for you now. Although I must say my Admin Assist. is looking at me rather strangely.

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BHP's covers. They're amazing works of art and I LOVED reading this post because I always wondered how it was done. I can't wait to see the cover. You must be oozing excitment.

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  43. Oh wow! This is so cool. I had chills reading it. Did their model look like you envisioned your heroine?

    It sounds like they are so invested in your book. It must be really good. I can't wait to read it. I'll want to review it, you know. And I expect you'll come to Lansing to sign books, too! We will have coffee!!!!!

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  44. Eeek! That is SOOOOO cool Jody. Wow. Covers definitely catch my attention. Sad, but true. Often it's either the cover or the title which will entice me to read the back cover of a book. If the back cover sounds good, then I read the first few lines.
    I can't wait to see your cover! I hope you can post it soon.

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  45. I can't wait to see your cover. I'm loving living vicariously through you.

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  46. Oh Jody, how exciting! I am so happy for you. It was interesting to hear how things worked. Didn't surprise me; my son is a graphic designer and I know a little about the process.

    Fun, fun, fun! Can't wait to read your book and post the fabulous review on my blog:)
    Blessings!

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  47. How wonderful to get an inside look at the cover design process. It's going to be neat seeing your cover and then reading your book to see how well it depicts the story. :)

    I like imagining my own version of the characters so the covers that usually draw me first are scenic. (That won't deter me from picking your book up; I'll be watching for the title and your name!)

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  48. I love reading your behind the scenes posts. I get butterflies reading about your exciting experiences. :) Can't wait to see the cover.

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  49. SO cool that you got to see the inner workings of your cover design! A graphic designer friend made a mock-up of a cover for my novel, and I'm so curious to see whether a publishing house will have a similar vision, or something I never thought of...

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  50. How exciting, Jody! What a thrilling ride you are on. As always, thanks for sharing all of the inside details of actually publishing a book!

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  51. The things that attract me to book covers are interesting fonts and colors. This is so subjective and not even really controllable, but if there's a turquoise book smack dab in the middle of a bunch of black covers, I pick up the turquoise one.

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  52. I'm just impressed you didn't have a ditherspazz and fall on the floor when you saw all that stuff.

    Can't wait to see the final result!

    - Liz

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  53. Oooh, how fun. We had a book designer/graphic designer talk to us at a conference one year. It was amazing all the "drafts" she goes through before deciding.

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  54. How exciting! They really do go through alot to get the perfect cover made, don't they? Can't wait to see how it ends up. Congrats.

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  55. When you were shown that space where your cover would be on the board, you must have felt so proud. I bet you had a lump in your throat, I am sure I would have done. What a wonderful thing to experience, I look forward to seeing the end result.

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  56. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to see the final!

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  57. I'm not surprised that they put so much time into it. Seriously, I probably buy half of the books I buy based almost completely on cover. (I know scandalous!) I can't wait to see yours.

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  58. Jody, thanks so much for sharing the process you're going through. I'm learning lots and loving it. My jaw dropped when you said they took 500 photos of the model. Wow! They are certainly doing everything they can to ensure that your book gets the attention it deserves. Kudos to BH.

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  59. I'm late to the discussion, but I much prefer real people on the covers. However, I've rarely bought a book because of a cover. (Oddly, as a male who reads a lot of romance books, I've not bought a book because of its cover just because of what my wife would think.)

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  60. Jody, That is soooo exciting. I can't wait to see it...either.

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  61. What an interesting process. Thanks for sharing that with us!

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  62. Congrats, Jody! You must be thrilled! That is a huge milestone to see your first cover. And I don't think it takes away any excitement to see it in advance.

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  63. Really exciting, and I can't wait to read about yours an Rachelle's reactions to it.
    work at home in india

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