Book Cover Design: 5-Step Process by MAD
Before we dive into our 5-step process for designing a highly competitive book cover let us look at some preparations you as an author should make before searching out a designer to work with.
You have done a lot of hard work and now your book is finished and ready to be published. Usually one of the last steps in the process is creating a cover for your book. This is a mistake, please do not underestimate the time and effort that goes into creating a high-quality cover. Just deciding how to go about this whole process can overwhelm authors as there are so many options to choose from. You can:
decide to use a premade book cover
make one yourself using some online cover templates
go with crowdsourcing
hire a designer/design studio specializing in this area
It is easy to go the wrong way here as you start weighing multiple factors such as pricing, level of control over your cover design, and so forth. Let me assure you that the only right option is to work with professionals within the industry if your goal is to compete with other books on the market.
Ultimately, even when relinquishing some control over the design, the author remains a decision-maker in the process and defines the creative direction. This is why authors should do some market research of their own before contacting a designer. Not just to get a feel of what the competition looks like, but also to find inspiration and figure out what they want to convey on the cover and how they might target the right audience for their book. This will also help with picking the right designer to work with.
So the next step is searching for a designer that is the right fit for your vision. If you happen to choose MAD Book Covers, you can expect the following 5 step design process:
Step 1: Creative Brief
We have a prepared cover brief form, designed to give us a detailed insight into your story and what you are looking for to be reflected through the cover design. This is easily the most important step and it is greatly impacted by the author's preparation regarding design vision and creative direction.
The cover brief form is comprised of questions that authors should ask themselves before starting a cover design process. These questions can be used as templates to define the author's vision. Here are some essential questions:
What is your book about?- should be a short and concise description
What genre or genres does your book fall into?
Who is your target audience?- age, gender, profession, etc.
What is important for you to be shown on the cover?- can be an image or even a feeling
What do you want to avoid on the cover?
Is there a specific style your cover should fit?- image-based, illustrated, typographic, etc.
Which book covers do you find inspiring and relevant?- explain what you like about them
Step 2: Market Research
When you complete our cover brief form, we study it to get a sense of what you expect from your cover. With this information, we conclude our own market research and try to find relevant examples on the market that have common elements with the author's vision. We form a mood board from these covers and use them as inspiration while drafting the first cover design concepts.
We will often have a meeting with the author to discuss the creative direction before working on drafts, to make sure we are on the same page. Mentioned mood boards work as great conversation starters in this case, and creative direction takes on a more tangible form.
This step is essential in the case where you as an author don't have a clear vision of your book cover. So we work together to get to that point.
Step 3: Concept Drafting
Once the creative direction has been agreed upon, we start working on cover design drafts. We draft two original design concepts as a part of our initial proposal. The mood board created previously can again be useful here as we compare the created covers to make sure they visually compete for attention and are of a high enough quality to stand next to the examples chosen as an inspiration. We also make sure that appropriate genre indicators are present on the cover. Genre indicator is a repeating motif of a majority of the book covers within a specific genre.
Step 4: Design Revisions
After sharing the initial drafts with you we make design revisions based on your feedback. Depending on the nature of the feedback a revision can be as simple as making a few edits on the cover, or as complex as going in a completely different direction. Your feedback should be as detailed as possible, clarifying which concepts and/or individual design elements (color palette, font choice, images, etc.) you feel work or don't work for you.
We would like to emphasize that even though you get 2 initial cover drafts, this does not mean you have to stick with either of them. Design is a process; sometimes the only right thing to do is change the design direction completely. Our workflow is such that we offer unlimited rounds of revisions. This way we want to encourage authors to not hold back in their feedback. The image below is an example of a final book cover design that looks nothing like the 2 initial drafts.
Step 5: Design Finalization
You made it through the finish line! Yes! Here comes one of the most enjoyable parts of the design process - design finalization. This is the part where all the design deliverables are created and handed over to the author. This is also a perfect moment to go through the entire cover (front, spine, and back) and do a final proofread, you don't want any errors finding their way to the published book.
Cover design deliverables include all the final images and files needed for eBook publishing and printing of a physical copy if one exists. Also under deliverables should be included all the stock images and fonts used for cover creation, as well as editable source files.
Our Lifetime Support
Once the project is over we offer support to authors regarding any small changes to the book cover they would like to make. Normally, not everyone is skilled at using graphic editing tools. This is why you can always reach out to us and we will make the following changes to your cover free of charge:
Changes to the front cover such as changing the title, subtitle, adding praise, or a badge.
Changes to the spine - again title, subtitle, etc.
Changes to the back cover such as blurb changes, praises, author bio
Author Photo replacement
Small graphic changes on the cover