Designing a Cover

Some cover ideas come quickly, while others fester and brew, going through many a round until ultimately getting to a cover that's "just right".  I was so fortunate to have the former experience with Jinx and the Doom Fight Crime, written by Lisa Mantchev.  Couple that with an amazing art director and editor , and in the end comes a cover that is already sitting as a forever favorite of mine. (It probably doesn't help that my kids are now teenagers, and looking at the cover just brings me back to those moments of whizzing around the driveway with chalk scattered everywhere.)
Every publisher handles book cover design differently, most often being the timing of when rough designs get mocked up and presented. For Jinx and the Doom Fight Crime, this was done after all of the interior images were completed and the art director and I were able to step back and let the story help guide the direction of the cover.
The cover process usually starts with a conversation between the editor, art director and the illustrator, followed by a mock up of a few super rough sketch ideas to start the ball rolling. Luckily, this book had an interior spread that instantly spoke "cover" to me, and with a very crude mock-up via cut and paste in Photoshop, this one rough was presented to the art director (again, very rough...the background looks dreadful from the cut and paste actions!) :

 My incredible art director at Paula Wiseman Books, Lizzy Bromley, immediately saw how to make it "cover worthy" by suggesting a bold background color vs the neutral cream that adorned the interior. Moving the figures up allowed for the cover text to really pop over the driveway chalk drawings (which brilliantly, Lizzy suggested toning down), consequently drawing us immediately into this creative moment of superhero play.
 Having a great art director at your side can elevate your design to a place that you couldn't have imagined yourself, and Lizzy did just that through her suggestion of moving the dog to the back cover. The siblings were able to take center stage on the cover, while the placement of the dog created an amazing sense of movement from the back to the front. Add some graphic circles and pops of saturated yellow, and you have a cover that I couldn't be more happier with. Lizzy Bromley and Senior editor Sylvie Frank were so helpful and crucial in bringing Jinx and the Doom Fight Crime to life.
And there you have it! Stay tuned for more behind the scenes posts as I bring this old blog back to life with gusto ;)


  1. Thanks so much for sharing that. I will never look at a well illustrated book cover the same way again. It’s always so good to know the work and love behind what looks to be so effortless! Thanks again for being willing to share the background story. :-D

    1. You're welcome and thank you! This cover in particular was very lucky in that it only took one rough sketch before approval. Most often there are several versions, all completely different, and then follow-up sketch ideas and more rounds before ultimately coming up with the final design. I was very lucky to have it work the way it did for Jinx, and am extremely happy with how it turned out. The cover is one of the most important pieces to get right, and because of that, I try to make sure I have the energy to give it it's due attention ;)


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