Whether I’m wearing my hat as a book shepherd or as publicist, I spend a lot of time talking to authors about the covers for their book. The importance of a book cover can’t be overestimated. Covers really are important. You know….the whole “judging a book by its cover”? It is true.
So while at one time I sometimes tried to save authors money by working with great graphics people with no experience in book cover design, I do not do this anymore. Why? Because someone who has designed numerous book covers has usually reached a tipping point where they simply “get it”. They know what will work and they don’t need direction. Sure we give plenty of feedback when needed but that is fundamentally different than practically having to explain everything I know about covers, sending examples of covers and needing to be overly involved in the process. They were great designers (otherwise I wouldn’t have hired them) but they were not familiar with creating book covers. Their fee may have been lower but when taking into account the time needed from our side, it wasn’t usually worth it.
When I read “How We Tried to Design Our Own Book Cover” I was excited. This article is by Jake Knapp, a designer who wrote a forthcoming business book called Sprint (which sounds fascinating, by the way). One of Jake’s opening lines is something I am likely to share often: “Last June, with a near-complete draft of our book in hand, we began thinking about the cover design. We’re a team of designers, so how hard could it be? (Spoiler alert: Turns out it is very, very hard.)” I had to smile as I read this story of book cover design gone wrong (and then right). I felt vindicated.
Jake – thanks for your honesty! I hope that sharing your experience will save authors a lot of time, money and frustration. Now I am waiting for an article about how important a good editor is to a book!