What goes into designing a book cover?

First of all, I consider the genre and it is important to me to make sure that each book cover is custom and powerful for the type of book it is. It is so true that a book cover will help sell the book and each time, I make sure that the cover really pops and stands out. I sometimes look at other books in the same genre, definitely not to copy, but to give me a sense of what is out there already.

I ask authors to tell me their vision of what the cover could look like, and I also ask them to show me some book covers they like, or that they don’t like, to get a sense of their taste. Often, I ask what colors they prefer and to let me know if they really don’t like a color so I don’t present ideas with a color they can’t stand.

After I feel clear on the direction, then the design process begins.

I usually offer several ideas at the outset. So, I use royalty-free art sites, and begin gathering images that might fit the cover. Many times, I use a compilation of images (collage-like) so the artwork is custom for the particular author. I do have a versatile, excellent custom illustrator if needed, as well.

After I find some possible images (unless the client has given me one they want to use), then I begin to bring in the typesetting. I have 1000s of fonts available. I feel it is important not to have an array of typestyles on one cover. It is much more professional to keep to one family or maybe 2 different fonts. As well, I choose not to use typestyles that are over-popular (Times, Arial and Paypyrus comes to mind)

I use Adobe Indesign primarily, usually also using Photoshop for the images. As I said, I sometimes blend more than one image. Photoshop 2021 has some amazing new effects, called Neurals. It was already an amazing program, now even more so. I also use Adobe Illustrator for titles to give special effects, and to utilize other artistic drawing tools.

I take time to design 3-5 ideas.

Then I wait for at least 24 hours before looking at the ideas I have come up with, so I can see them with fresh eyes. After I have put together several ideas, often more than I end up presenting, I hone them down until I am very happy with the choices. I have found, from experience, not to put in a design I am not happy with, in case the client picks it!

After showing them to the client, she or he narrows them down. I revise as needed, until we are both happy with the design chosen.

You can see many portfolio samples of covers both with royalty-free artwork and custom illustration at www.illuminationgraphics.com