The process of designing a book cover is one which doesn’t vary too dramatically from book to book, the basics of which are understanding the concept and key elements within the book, the individual genre and audience along with symbolism and a massive pinch of creativity. Of course if you could boil a creative process down to a couple of steps then everyone would be best-selling artists with exhibitions in London and New York.
But this said, there are steps that a designer will take in order to get the most effective solution for the book or project’s needs and requirements. For us we have this initially condensed into a client brief questionnaire, using an interactive form we ask each client to tell us what makes their book tick, what’s important (and what’s not), this questionnaire has come about over the course of several years and has altered to become more honed to the needs of each client.
Getting this information along with the ‘Sell me, don’t tell me’ approach to a client’s book ensures we get the important elements (when I say ‘sell me’ it means you should pitch your book at me in a short time frame, it helps to focus the mind of the author on the key points of the book’s concept).
Now many authors will be asking themselves just why doesn’t the designer read the manuscript to get a feel for the book? The reality is that your designer will be working to a set timeframe, most authors won’t want to allow an additional couple of weeks for your designer to read the book, it would also add further cost to the project due to the time your designer is now spending reading the book (as it would be classed as research).
So the designer will draw out the important elements from the author, in fairness many authors will come to the project with ideas of their own (and it’s hard not to develop an idea when you’ve worked on the book for so long). Some of these ideas will work and some won’t, the danger is that many authors want to encapsulate too much detail upon the front page, as a result it makes the design hard to read and in some cases even confusing to the reader.
Letting go and trusting your designer can be a hard task for some authors, but at the same time you are actually paying them to create something for you, using their skills and knowledge to design a cover which will represent your book and help it sell once published. The best advice is to let them get on with it, you obviously chose them because you like their work so let them create your drafts and go from there.
Once a designer has the relevant information from an author then the next stage is the research on the existing market place, this is something that follows certain trends as design culture and popularity alters over time. Most designers understand this very well and keep ahead of the trends by constant research, if you work within a field you love then seeing what happens in its entirety becomes easier.
Having this information, the designer now starts to formulate ideas based around the brief, this starts off simply with drawing out key words and elements, from here these elements are worked upon and brainstormed into something fuller. Like a snowball rolling down a hill the more you work upon an element the more detailed it becomes until you soon have something tangible, this then becomes the basis for your first draft
With the use of paper, pencils and Photoshop you can further develop these ideas into drafts which will represent the concept of the book perfectly and help to sell the book to its audience.