Book Cover Design 101 OR, “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger” – Friedrich Nietzsche

By Sandra L. Jones, wife of The Author, Patrick Jones

SO…He wrote a book…Now what do we do??

As The Author and I continue on through the Indie Author self-publishing platform, it is very obvious that the process typifies a continuous learning model.  It never ends!!  We continue to read, learn and implement our strategy toward discovering new and better ways from the ground up. The publishing industry changes logarithmically, and the speed at which the current “Information Age” progresses is unprecedented.

This particular project has taken us about a year to complete.  Anthony Wessel with Digital Book Today suggested that we recount our journey so that others in the industry may learn from our experience.  Collaboration is essential in the process of brainstorming.  That is key to the equation.

Significant Points to Consider:

  1. We worked with a print on demand publisher, Create Space.  We continue to have a terrific experience with this company.  They are a subsidiary of Amazon and serve as a “bridge” to the world of publishing your book.  Just make sure to do your homework on the organization you choose to work with and make sure they are reputable.  Research at least 2-3 companies before you make your final decision.
  2. I started with the template format at Create Space for creating the book cover.  I had never done one before.  It was fairly easy…but I learned it.
  3. If you don’t like the cover, remember –  you can always change it.  That’s the beauty of electronic media!
  4. We learned to take baby steps in that we had to focus on one thing at a time.  Narrow your focus so that you concentrate on one goal.  Remember, Doris-Maria Heilmann with 111 Publishing says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
  5. Finally, never give up.

The first cover I did was with the template format with Create Space.  They talked me through how to do it on the phone.  What is neat about Create Space is that you can put your phone number into the message and opt to have them call you back whenever you want them to.  It really works.  I used it a lot!

First…You need a cover.

This was the very first cover I made with the template format:

The Wolf's Moon by Patrick Jones

Copyright (C) 2012 Sandra L. Jones, All Rights Reserved

It was OK…one step closer.  I learned how to make a cover. That is when we brainstormed and decided we wanted a more professional appearance.  We settled on one of the pictures that I took on the Wolf Moon cycle in 2012 from just outside the back door!  I got Adobe Photoshop and decided I could surely do this myself.  Note:  Significant learning curve here! MM900040998 I watched hours of self-help videos and finally got the hang of it.  That is when we used this picture as my first ever try at Photoshop.  A work of art, for sure!

And Then…You have to Publish it!

This was the second cover we went with to publish.  A funny story is that now when Pat (The Author) goes to the grocery store, they think he is Mark Lansdowne.  Too funny!  It does work in some fashion as the readers associated the picture with the main character in the story.  Interesting.

The Wolf's Moon by Patrick Jones

Copyright (C) 2012 Sandra L. Jones

We were featured on Digital Book Today on  June 12, 2012.  After the article, Anthony sent me an email and said, “…I don’t mean to overstep my bounds…but…while your cover is good, it needs some work”.  How much more diplomatically could he say this!!  And I am glad he did.  That precipitated another brain storming session that lasted the rest of the year in 2012.  He continued, “Your name is your asset and therefore must be prominent.  Your readers will follow your name.  It is not big enough.” He sent me a few examples of book covers that were created with this concept in mind.  I was able to visualize what he meant by looking at examples of other covers. Clicking my red studded heels three times and uttering something like, “There’s no place like home,” I went back to Book Cover Designing 101.

The Journey

I set out to find the perfect picture for the book cover, because I certainly didn’t know what I was doing.  I looked at thousands of pictures at iStock Photo, Deposit Photo and the like.  I was redoing the website as well, so I got some really good ideas.  (That – is another saga, to be continued).  So I found a great picture of a wolf but not the moon.  I kind of liked it until my son-in-law said it was beautiful, but looked like a laid back German Shepard.  Back to the drawing board.  Not the “wow” effect we were searching for.

This was the third book cover.  I was really not unhappy with what I had done with this one, but something was missing.  It looked as though I had done it, which is OK…but we wanted some validity to the first decision and subsequent purchase of the book by the reader.  Once again, the project was re-opened!  (2 renditions here!)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00039]

The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones with iStock Photo

The Wolf's Moon by Patrick Jones

The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones with iStock Photo

So, then I decided I REALLY did not know what I was doing!  I happened upon a photographer in Canada, David C. Cassidy.  He did a super job on the book cover and it was reasonably priced, so I went with his vision of the book cover for the book.  The key point here is that although it was The Photographer’s vision, it was not The Author’s vision.  Pat had a particular vision in his mind of how he wanted the book to “grab” the reader if it was sitting on a coffee table.  As good as this cover was, he, after all, is The Author.  I couldn’t argue with that, although I give it a try every chance I get!

This was the proof of the fourth cover.

Cover Proof David C. Cassidy

Cover design by David C. Cassidy
Moon Photograph by David C. Cassidy © 2012
Used by permission.

By this time, I had learned about Adobe Photoshop 6.0 where the 3D text was outstanding.  David had introduced me to Sinister Fonts by Chad Savage.  He also suggested that we have a photograph professionally done to demonstrate validity.

Then, you FINE TUNE!

We went back to the very beginning and started trying to find the perfect picture again, given the knowledge I had acquired.  This time, it was a little easier.  My brain had processed the information.  Little did I know that once I knew what I was doing (sort of)…all of the pieces started to fit together just like the pieces of a puzzle. Pat liked one picture when we had first started this journey which I thought was too fuzzy.  I thought it needed to be done by a professional, but it was simpler than that.  Pat insisted that one picture was the look that he wanted for the book.  Bless his heart, I think he may have been humoring me, but it worked.  So we went back to the original picture that we had both liked from the beginning.  I had to really think about Adobe Photo Shop 6.0, but that is what made it a challenge.  Since I am rather an extroverted personality, I again danced the “Victory Dance” around the house!

This is the fifth (AND LAST!) book cover…

Final Book Cover The Wolf's Moon by Patrick Jones

Copyright (C) 2012 Sandra L. Jones
All Rights Reserved

Validate Your Results with an Objective Critic

I ran this book cover by Anthony Wessel of Digital Book Today.  I didn’t want to be overbearing, but did want an opinion from an expert (especially since he was the one that started this brainstorming cascade!).  Mind you, Anthony would never tell me yay or nay along the way, just little hints that he had stored in his memory.  I liken it to a treasure hunt!  Anthony said, “Your name is your asset…that is where your reputation comes from.  Your readers will follow your books and therefore the author’s name needs to be prominent.”  At the end after we made the decision, he did say, “I like this one the best anyway!”  So we knew we must have a winner!  So far, we have had a lot of great compliments from our readers and other authors, in addition to more sales and reviews.  The book cover makes a difference because you have to “grab” the reader within the first 8 seconds.  You have to stand out in the crowd, somehow, so that people will pick your book up and give it a try.  We are thrilled about it (pun intended) and are now finished with THIS book cover.  The sequel will follow toward the end of 2013 as well as a short story.

Thank you to Anthony Wessel for taking the time away from his busy schedule to pay credence to our endeavors. He didn’t have to mention anything about the book cover, but he felt it was necessary from his perspective.  He did not want to be remiss by not pointing out something that was so obvious to him, but obscure to a new author trying to figure it all out.  I have learned in this industry that you call it, “paying it forward.”  Now I know what that means.  Thank you for inviting me into your world with your friendship.  The quote from Friedrich Nietzsche says it all, “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

Take care,


Copyright © 2013 Sandra L. Jones, All Rights Reserved.

Please Note:  The opinions of this website do not reflect any endorsement or use of any of the vendors noted in the article.  We assume no liability in the use of any of these vendors.  No affiliate compensation or other compensation has been provided by any of these sources.  Reading this article confirms your understanding of these provisions.


The Quotations Page

(c) 1994-2012 and Michael Moncur.