Friday, July 13, 2012

The Making of a Book Cover by Guest Jamie Carie

Have you ever wondered how publishing houses come up with their book covers? I know I have, and since I’ve become a published author, I get this question a lot. To find out just what goes into the process I was blessed to get the chance to interview Diana Lawrence, an Art Director at B&H Publishing. Thanks so much, Diana, for giving us a peak into the process!

1). How did you get started in this business? Have you always wanted to design book covers?

As a kid I would write and illustrate little stories and bind them into books, so I guess I always knew I wanted to be a book designer. I went to art school and worked for years in many areas of graphic design before coming to B&H to illustrate gift products, which led to gift books, which led to all types of books.

2). Can you give us a brief overview of the steps you take to create a book cover?

 (The comments in blue are mine).

First I read as much as I can about the author and the book (if it’s a novel, I usually read the whole story because I get caught up in it). I collect images that have some connection to the writing: photographs, illustrations, and textures. 

(For The Guardian Duke, set in Ireland and the first book in my Forgotten Castles series, Diana used some of these images):

Sometimes the cover design has an image of a person placed for approval, and then later we do a photo shoot to capture the exact look we want.

(Here are some images Diana used for possible cover models):

With "The Guardian Duke", we decided to connect the cover image to the book trailer in a more dramatic way than we have in the past. We chose a model who not only fit the description in the story, but who also had acting experience so we could have live action video in the trailer instead of still images.

(Here are some photos of the chosen model from faceoutstudio):

I build layers of art and type, moving pieces around, adding and subtracting until the design begins to tell the story. The first design leads to a few more. Then the designs go through an approval process to decide which one works best for the book.  

(Here is the mock up and a draft cover):

 (And after the approval process, here is the final cover!):


3). What is your favorite part of the process? 

I love to discover the heart of a book. I want to know the story behind the story: what inspired the author to write, how the power of the message might change the way I think. I want to experience the passion behind the written words, and then begin to think about translating that into a cover image. 

Most challenging part?

Definitely coming up with a design that resonates with everyone! Art is so subjective; what attracts some people just doesn’t work for others. 

4). If someone wanted to become a book designer what would you recommend they do?

Spend time at bookstores and online to see what design trends are showing up on covers and anywhere else. 

Anything else you would like to add?

What I love best about working on books is being able to catch the vision and go along for the ride. To be caught up in a book that takes you to another place in your mind is so powerful… the books we publish inspire us to live fuller lives, because we read about how someone else has.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences creating book covers. I know I have been so pleased and thrilled with every cover that Diana has designed. And whenever I’m at a book signing, I always hear how beautiful my covers are. I’m blessed to have such a talented and insightful person working on these stories with me!

Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

We'll draw two winners today. Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for the first two books in the Forgotten Castles series The Guardian Duke and The Forgiven Duke.

And do check out the book trailer for The Guardian Duke here.


  1. I love behind the scenes stuff like this. So kewl. =)

  2. I saw the cover video a long time back and just loved that glimpse into such an awesome cover. Covers are so important!

  3. I thought for sure I'd leave the first comment today. Way to go Nancy and Melissa.

    Nancy, I love your new picture!

    Jamie, I love book covers. For some reason I study them before I open the book. Then when I read it tears me up if the cover doesn't match the story. Wrong hair color or whatever, takes away from the story.

    This is crazy, I know, but I can remember buying a Nancy Drew book way back when, and her dress on the cover wasn't the same color in the scene.

    Thanks for sharing with us today. It's so great to learn about this.

    Jackie L.

  4. Hi Jamie! This is really interesting. Book covers really draw me into the book before I even read a word. I LOVED the Guardian Duke and have wanted to read the sequel for quite a while now! So...I'd love my name in the drawing ; ).

  5. The cover is really nice. I like reading about how all this stuff works :)


  6. Hey Jackie! I used to get sooooo frustrated with Nancy Drew covers, I mean, she has strawberry blonde hair, right? So why couldn't the cover artists get together and decide exactly what that meant? I think the range of hair color was the worst on the Nancy Drew Files series if I remember correctly. And I recall other mistakes too. But then, "Carolyn Keene" wasn't keeping up with the myriad of series demands fast enough to keep them in my tiny hands, so I quit reading...all reading because nothing could be better than Nancy Drew!

    Good thing someone gave me a Lori Wick for my 12th birthday and I felt guilty for not reading it. :)

  7. Wow! I've always wondered about that.

    And that cover is GORGEOUS.

    Love red, love castles.

  8. loved reading about bookcovers...thanks for sharing~

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  9. Ouh, Jamie Carrie, Welcome!:)
    I've actually been looking foward to reading one of your books. I'm starting with Snow Angel (but I wouldn't mind if I win in this giveaway). Congrats on the awards and the covers!
    They always say not to judge a book by its cover, but how many of us truly do that??
    I enjoyed this post, talking about covers is ALWAYS interesting!

    Have a good day, everyone!


  10. Very interesting! The cover art is such a huge part of the book, or at least it is for me as a 'reader'. I tend to pick up the books who's covers catch my eye.

    Good luck with your books.

  11. I saw the trailer before, but I played it again today.
    Awesome, Jamie!


  12. i too, wrote books and drew my own covers as a child. as a graphic artist, i would love to combine my love of books and making book covers. i really like getting to see the "behind the scenes". even better, i understand exactly what Diana was saying. now, what'd be my next step to maybe actually doing that design thing?

    absolutely LOVE the book cover. have to wait until i'm home to view the trailer (work blocks video). and i'd LOVE a chance to aquire more reading material for free. please put me in the drawing.

  13. I enjoyed this peek behind the scenes---SO interesting! It's really amazing when you realize how much work goes into producing a single book--WOW! Thanks for sharing with us, Jamie.
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo


    This is sooooo amazing! I love this. It's like a reality TV show for writers.

    Now tell us a bit about YOUR writing day,Jamie.

  15. Hi Jamie, Earlier this week I asked someone if the person making the book covers got awards because some are so beautiful, so liked reading your post today and learning more about how they come about.
    Many times a cover has made me pick up a book to read but I depend mostly on the author writing it.
    Paula O(

  16. What a beautiful cover! It's really neat to see how it all comes together. Thanks for sharing.

  17. That cover for "The Guardian Duke" is beautiful! Thanks for giving us the inside scoop -

    The comment about Nancy Drew's dress color reminded me of a cookbook I bought one time because I wanted the recipe for the cinnamon rolls on the cover. Guess what? No cinnamon roll recipe.

    The cover art makes a promise of what the reader will find inside the book, and sometimes we're disappointed.

    So that leads me to my question - How much input does the author have when it comes to the cover art? Does it vary by publisher? If the author thinks the cover doesn't live up to the book, is it too late?

    Thanks for stopping by, Jamie!

  18. Jamie, I love your covers and LOVE your books!!! I am so in love with these characters in this series and can't wait for the third book!!! I want Gabriel and Alex to get their happy ending!!! AHHHHH!!!!!! Can you tell I'm impatient? But I love these characters. It's rare that I get so caught up in characters that they seem REAL to me, but yours are very real.

    Gotta run! Have a fun day in Seekerville!

  19. That was really interesting! I'm drawn by book covers and they play a big part in my deciding to buy the book or not.

    I really like the cover of your book and it was neat to see how it all came about. Thanks for sharing and please put me in the drawing. The title and cover have me sure I want to read that book :)

  20. I find the cover process fascinating. It seems like for all we wrote the book, making the cover is sort of shrouded in mystery. At least it seems so to me.
    Thanks for this.

  21. Welcome to Seekerville, Jamie! Thanks for showing us about how covers are made. Your cover is so beautiful. They picked the right pose for the model etc. It's so nice when the artist really knows about the story behind the cover!

  22. Morning Jamie, Thanks for sharing all the great info. Love the covers.

    Have fun today.

  23. Loved the cover of The Guardian Duke almost as much as I loved the book! In fact, that cover sold it.

    I recently read a CBA book with a cover that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Even reviewers were commenting on it because it was so off! I noticed recently that there's a new cover on online sites now and still wonder what on earth was up with that. So covers definitely make an impact on readers. Thanks for the inside look at how they're made!

    Please don't enter me in the draw as I have The Guardian Duke and have The Forgiven Duke on order. Bless you multitudes for writing such wonderful books.

  24. Wow, what a great post! Love the insight into the cover designing process! And what a gorgeous final product!

  25. i have often wondered...wonder no longer. i do wonder how much say the author has in choosing? i do prefer the final image to the rest because the girl is looking up. In one of the others i thought she saw a mouse, hahaha. Thanks for the great post and giveaway



    What a GREAT interview and SO insightful!! I had to laugh to myself while reading Diana's answers, wondering if you are/were as big a pain in the posterior to her as I am to my sweet art director, Cheryl, who seriously has the patience of a saint!!

    Well, you can tell Diana that her covers (particularly The Guardian Duke) is one of the prettiest covers out there, and the book??? Simply WONDERFUL, Jamie, and I HIGHLY recommend that lovers of historical romance NOT miss this one if they like to be swept away. As I said in my endorsement:
    With mastery and pluck, Jamie Carie has penned a fresh, almost whimsical tale guaranteed to leave you breathless for more …

    Key words being "breathless for more," because if you read TGD, I guarantee you, Jamie Carie will soon dominate your bookshelf!!


  27. So fun. I love your covers, Jamie and I love the insights into the process. Fascinating for those of us on the other side of this.


  28. This is not only interesting but incredibly valuable to me as I'm in the process of doing some design. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  29. When that video came out, I loved watching it and think I did so a couple different times. This is so fun to peek back stage of a publishing house! Thanks Jamie!

  30. I was talking to my dad this week about book covers. He used to be the Art Director of Word Publishing, which is now Thomas Nelson, so he is VERY interesting to talk to!

    I know you aren't supposed to do this, but I always judge a book by its cover. An awesome cover makes me turn the book over and read the back cover copy. Yeah, sometimes a title will make me look further, even if the cover is so-so, but a cover is very telling and makes a difference in whether or not I want to read a book.

    Don't shoot me!

    Loved the interview and the behind the scenes...especially loved the trailor (and the making of it).

  31. Jamie, it's so great to have you as our guest in Seekerville! This peek behind the scenes of cover design is fascinating. I'm impressed that you want to read the entire novel in order to get the best sense of what the story is about.

    Jackie, I totally agree--it makes me crazy when I get a character's picture in my head from the cover art and then start reading to discover he or she looks NOTHING like that in the author's mind!

  32. Jamie,

    Thanks so much for allowing us a glimpse into the world behind the book! A beautiful cover will draw me in every time.

    What an amazing job it must be to design book covers. I love how Diana delves so deeply into the character, the story, AND the author. Your cover and trailer are great!

    I'd love to win your book!


  33. Cover art has transformed to some amazing beautiful work over the years. LOVE to pick a book by its cover.

  34. Cover art has transformed to some amazing beautiful work over the years. LOVE to pick a book by its cover.

  35. I'm also one who picks a book by it's cover.

    Several years ago I read a book on writing that suggested you make your own book cover and set it somewhere you could see it. The philosophy was you could visualize your book being sold.

    I did this at it was a blast. It can be time comsuming so be careful, but I think it's worth it.

    BTW, love the cover of the Guardian Duke.


  36. Connie, that is a great, great, idea.

    Any favorite places for stock photos?

  37. Jackie, I agree! Covers are important and it bothers me too when the characters aren't accurately portrayed. Diana says (from B&H) that she usually gets to caught up in my stories that she reads all of them. lol! Maybe that is why I haven't had that problem. :-)

    Nancy and Melissa - wow, you girls are fast! We got a new kitten yesterday and it's like having a new baby in the house! I didn't get much sleep last night and then when she slept early this morning, I feel asleep and we ended up sleeping in until 10:00 am. I gotta get busy now!

    Stacey, thanks for reading The Guardian Duke! I knew I was taking a risk with that cliff hanger ending which is why we pushed so hard to get all three books in the series out this year. A Duke's Promise (the third book) will be out in September so you'll have even less time to wait. :-)

  38. Thanks Jess and Virginia! I've been blessed working with Diana Lawrence at B&H. She always gets the mood and feel of my stories and is able to reciprocate that one the covers.

    Hi Ganise! Thanks for wanting to try my books! Snow Angel is a great place to start!

    Thanks, Rose! Book covers are the first way to catch our interest, aren't they?

    Deb, I wish I could draw! What a talent that is. I'm self publishing a contemporary story next year about a young widow woman who falls in love with a NBA star (it's funny!) and I'll need to find someone to design the cover. It's a little scary but I know God will lead me to the right person.

    Tina, I love to write at night when it's dark and I have my music on but with the deadlines last year I was forced to have a more daytime schedule. Usually I check email and wake up for the first hour and then I write and research for about three hours or so, break for lunch and a workout (that's when I finally get out of my p.j.'s and shower - lol) then write for another couple of hours. Stop to fix dinner and see my family and then, if I'm really on deadline or it didn't flow that day, I get back up there and write for another two or three hours. It's very off and on all day with lots of prayers for help in between! :-)

  39. Paula, I do wish there were more contests/awards for cover artists! Diana certainly deserves to win one in my opinion. :-)

    Jan, I do think it varies from publisher to publisher. I had it added to my contract that I could contribute my opinion (I have to "sign off" on the cover) so I always feel like I have a voice. What happens is Diana usually sends me the cover in one of the early stages and we talk about any concerns. She edits and plays with it and then sends it to me again. Really, thinking back, there have only been two instances where I really didn't like something. One, was The Snowflake, my Christmas novella. The first cover had a girl on it that I didn't think fit my character at all. Thankfully, they changed it. And the second was Angel's Den. I didn't like the girl's hair in her face after my family said it looked like she was "eating her hair" but they really loved it over at B&H so I let that one go. It's all about compromise!

  40. Melanie, you are such a sweetheart!!! LOL! I LOVE your books too! I think we both write for the younger crowd but that it becomes well loved by women of all ages which I have to give all the praise and glory to God for! Thanks so much!

    Jamie (cool name, btw:) Covers are one of my favorite parts of a book if they are done well. I wanted to get into advertising in college (God had other plans) but I think covers are like that billboard or commercial. It's the first chance to catch someone's interest. I'm convinced Snow Angel's cover gave my career and great start and I'm eternally thankful.

    I'm thrilled you like the cover - Cara Lynn, Kav and Sandra. They did pose her well, didn't they? And I love all things castles!!

    Thanks for having me on Seekerville, Mary! This is such an encouraging and informative blog!

    Oh Julie! You are such a dear!! I have to say meeting other authors and getting to know them has been one of the BEST parts of being an author!! Thanks for the kind words and loving this story! You are such a talented spinner of wonderful yarns :-). I can't wait to get the ARC for your new one in the mail!!

  41. This is a fascinating post. I think if I wasn't writing books I'd want to be designing their covers (that's the old college art major in me talking). But I am writing, and I've begun the process with my publisher for designing my first book cover and am on pins and needles waiting for the chance to have a glimpse, if I'm given one while it's still a work in progress. They allowed me a lot of input upfront, which I was more than happy to give as I've been collecting photos for a long time and even designed a few mock covers myself. Very rudimentary stuff, but I couldn't help myself. Thanks for sharing Jamie's cover design process. I'm looking forward to meeting the design team at my publisher soon.

  42. PS: it's a very striking cover Jamie. Love that red cloak!

  43. Marianne - LOL! Yes, some of the shots are definite misses!! They take their time getting it right and Diana knows how important the "feel" and "mood" of the cover is to me. A Duke's Promise (which you can see on Amazon) is, I think, my all time fav! The look in Alexandria's eyes - wow - takes my breath away it's so perfect for her determination to find her parents and her destiny!

    You're welcome, Natasha! I'm glad this was so timely for you and God bless your design efforts!!

    Sherrinda - I'll bet your dad has lots of stories! LOL! I try to be as enthusiastic and supportive as I can of the art directors but we've had the occasional disagreement. It takes a talented (and patient) person to be an art director at a publishing house!!

    Thanks so much, Sandy, Susan and Myra! I'm glad this post could give you a peek into the process. Believe me, I didn't know exactly how it worked until The Guardian Duke - which was my eighth novel - lol!

    Connie that's a great idea! When I was doing some research for this series I decided to put some extra time in the character development up front so filled out this long questionnaire (I can post this on my blog if anyone is interested) about the main characters and then I found photos on the web of what I thought they looked like, the castles looked like, some clothes they might wear, etc. It was so much fun! And with a three book continuous series it helped me keep all those pesky details straight. I think I will be doing that from now on!

  44. Lori, what an exciting time for you!! It's thrilling when you open that email attachment and see the cover for the first time. Soak it all in, my dear!! And God bless your books!

  45. Great post, Diana. The book trailer is wonderful (so is the book, btw :-)

    Also the clip about the 'making of the cover for the Guardian Duke' was fascinating. Jamie posted it on her website when it first came out and I love getting to watch the process.

    These covers really catch the reader's attention. wonderful!

  46. Okay Jamie,
    I could have just written that last comment directly to you, eh?

    LOVE seeing you on Seekerville
    One of my FAV authors!!

  47. What a fascinating blog, Jamie! Love your gorgeous cover and all the great behind-the-scenes info about how it came to life.

    Amazing how much thought and hard work goes into each book, not only from the writer's POV but also the huge staff of folks at the publishing house. God bless them all!!!

    Congrats on your wonderful success! Your heroine in red has captured my heart. :)

  48. Very cool!!!

    I hate it when book covers obviously don't match. Read one where the wedding dress described and the dress on the cover weren't anything alike. Annoyed me [and this was a second print run - original cover was a landscape].

    Ah well.

    Kudos for doing your best to get it right!!!

  49. HI JAMIE! I usually just wait and see what they come up with. I've always been good with the covers, plus I'm pathlogically non-confrontational.

  50. Tina,

    I get mine from several places, but photobucket has a lot.

    My favorite is for Husbands May Run but They can't Hide. It's a historical western. I found a photo of cowboy who was galloping away on a horse. Perfect fit.

  51. Mary-

    "I've always been good with the covers, plus I'm pathlogically non-confrontational."

    This from someone who says it's never to early to shoot someone in an MS?

    Struck me as funny...

    On second thought, I guess there isn't much confrontation when someone is holding a gun. Hmmmmm...

  52. AMAZING! I just learned how to do an awesome cover.
    Covers are the first impression I have of a book. And this one is great, so beautiful!

  53. Wow ... I loved this post! I'm completely fascinated with covers. I'll be honest and confess that I often judge a book by its cover. Thanks for sharing how your cover came to look like it did. I think they did a great job, by the way!


  54. Your covers are stunning, Jamie! Thanks for giving us a glimpse behind the scenes! :)

  55. It looks like your having a lot of fun.
    Please enter me in your generous draw.

  56. LOL, Mary!! Me too about confrontation. Unless there is something really bothering me, I tend to let it slide right off my shoulders. :-) This is such a fun group of ladies! Thanks again for having me!!

    Carol, you've reminded me that I didn't have a red cape in The Guardian Duke at first and then, when I saw the girl in one of the photos with a red cape I told Diana that I could add that in as Alex's coat. It's so striking that I wanted it to match the story!

    Connie, that title sounds like a country music song! I LOVE it! Very catchy and fun!

  57. That is so interesting!! I love the covers on your books.

  58. JAMIE, you are so blessed to have the very talented DIANA doing your cover art! So beautiful! Cool how each step of the mock-up is done.

    I have a question for JAMIE and DIANA. Do you use Pinterest for pic ideas to share with Diana, Jamie? And are these helpful to her? I ask because I joined Pinterest recently with the idea that maybe that would be helpful to a cover artist later. Unlike LORI, I have no desire, nor skill, at envisioning art for a cover.


  59. I would love to win a copy! And this was very informative! I look forward to finishing my book and getting it through the process so I can get to the cover. :D

  60. Hey Carrie!
    Great idea about Pinterest. I joined recently and am still finding ways to experiment with Pinterest. it's a fun way to share visual arts, isn't it?
    What usually happens is I fill out an information sheet with all sorts of details about the story, the characters, the setting, etc. I add in plenty of photos from my research and Diana has definitely used some of those photos as a jumping off point for the cover. It's a lot of fun to fill out after finishing a story!

  61. I love the cover art for the Guardian Duke. I have to admit I'm one of those people who judge a book by it's cover, and the cover drew me to the book. When I saw the cover, I just had to read the book summary. I read the book in a day! Thanks for the chance to win.

  62. I already have both books so I'm not entering the drawing. I just wanted to say that this trailer is one of the best made and spot on with the book! It definitely made me want to read The Guardian Duke long before it came out :)

  63. love info on the book covers and love the final book cover. It is an interesting subject. covers can really sell a book for a reader (reader speaking from experience).

  64. I have really enjoyed the books i have read so far by Jamie Carie. I love this kind of's neat to find out the inner workings of books.

  65. This is great information! I love the different shots they came up with. Your book cover is beautiful, they did an excellent job :-)

  66. This is great information! I love the different shots they came up with. Your book cover is beautiful, they did an excellent job :-)

  67. I would really love to win these books. Trailer was really good!


  68. Super interesting - thank you for sharing this info today!

    Happy Friday all!

  69. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing! I have often wondered about covers. And you are lucky to have such good ones.

  70. Thank you. I did enjoy this behind the scenes look.


  71. Great interview... That was really cool to read about. And what a beautiful cover! :)

    writer_weaver at yahoo dot com

  72. You picked a beautiful model for your book cover and the book sounds very interesting

  73. Oh, wow, such an intriguing process!

  74. Red is a great color for a book cover and the shade of red on Jamie's book is awesome. Teamed up with a pretty girl and the backdrop of a castle, this one is definitely a winner. The old adage is that you can't judge a book by its cover, and that is wisdom. But I have a hunch that the inside of this one matches the outside for quality.

  75. Very interesting thanks for this, I learned some new stuff today and it's not even 8 am yet here :p.