09 February 2014

Anatomy of an Award-Winning Book Cover

Recently, I was a guest panelist at the Changing Hands third annual Indie Author Conference. The panel in which I participated was about lessons learned from being a published author. I spoke to a lot of attendees before and after my panel and many were interested in what goes into making a great book cover.

Luckily for me, I have an in-house designer (my spouse, Matt) who’s been a professional illustrator and graphic designer for many years. He’s done the covers for all eight of my books so far and another dozen or so covers for other writers. 

Matt's first award-winning cover was the one he did for my book “Sarah & Gerald,” a novel of Paris in the 1920s. I think this is the best design he’s done for me; so, I thought I would give you a little overview of how he created that cover.
As usual, Matt and I talked a lot about the story of the novel and what I envisioned for a cover. Luckily, Matt usually ignores my suggestions -- and did in this case.

In the first image, you’ll see some of the illustrations Matt did. I loved them and saw the possibility inherent in the images.

He added a stock watercolor background (second image) and colored the illustration to come up with the final cover image (third image). With the addition of a perfect font (Fontleroy Brown), the cover was done.

This very brief summary does not fully capture the many hours of work that went into this cover: Matt’s illustrations and the (many) suggestions I offered to alter the cover design. For example, Matt’s original design had the title at the top and my name below. I suggested it would have a neater look swapping them.

It’s very important to work with a talented cover designer. It’s equally important to listen to your designer. I know how to write. I’m no designer -- and you’re probably not, either.


Claudia said...

Hooray!! And congratulations! Does Matt take on other clients? Our cover artist just retired so we're looking! :)

Gorgeous cover!

But personally, I liked the girl in the blue on that panel. She was sharp as a whip and... oh right, that was me! ;)

Christopher said...

Claudia! Thank you for asking. Yes, Matt does take on other clients -- especially funny, witty and urbane clients like you! :-) You can see more of his design work here: http://cargocollective.com/matthinrichs