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Old 01-07-2013, 11:50 AM   #1
Bri Perkins
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What is the process for cover design?

I was just wondering (daydreaming) what the process for cover design is? When a publisher accepts a manuscript for publication, how do they go about designing a cover for it? What input does the author have?
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:04 PM   #2
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I can't speak for anyone, but with my publishers so far I've had a lot of input for the cover. One of them even had the cover artist redo the cover about four times to get it just right. They asked me what I would like on the cover and listened to my ideas.

Now of course, these are small presses, and I have no idea how things work with a larger press.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:57 PM   #3
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:42 PM   #4
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With the larger presses, you pretty much have zero say in what's on your cover. I was shown the images for both my covers after they were designed. Both were tweaked slightly because of requests I made (one left part of my name off and the other had a flaw in the image), but I had no input as to how they were designed.

The marketing department will either read the book, or work off notes about it, but their main concern is that the cover attract potential readers.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
I was just wondering (daydreaming) what the process for cover design is? When a publisher accepts a manuscript for publication, how do they go about designing a cover for it? What input does the author have?
The editor briefs the cover designer - sends a copy of the manuscript, some kind of a one-pager about it, and maybe suggests some kind of direction: graphic, photographic, illustrative, whatever. Suggestions by the editor are just a kind of starting point, really, because the designer is the person in charge of the design. The editor may or may not have discussed the brief a bit with the author.

At some point the designer will have worked up some covers and will be ready to show them to the editor, and shortly thereafter other interested parties such as the sales and marketing departments. The author and his/her agent are going to get a look once the approach is agreed on internally and something is worked up nicely.

(If illustrations are required there will be a couple of extra stages where sketches etc are done.)

Input from the author/agent is taken seriously, but the general attitude at most big houses is that most authors and agents are not the experts when it comes to designing commercial covers. If there's a big fuss about it, editors will do their best to broker a compromise; in any case, in my experience it's quite rare for an author to hate their cover.

(Here's a terrible manipulative thing I quite often do: I'll let an author have a cover rough with a bit of a mistake in it, like some text that needs to be a couple of point sizes higher. Authors and agents like to spot things to fix, and if there's nothing to fix, they sometimes want to fix things that aren't broken.)
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:07 PM   #6
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I was shown the images for both my covers after they were designed. Both were tweaked slightly because of requests I made (one left part of my name off and the other had a flaw in the image), but I had no input as to how they were designed.
Ha, I just saw this after posting my last.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Torgo View Post
(Here's a terrible manipulative thing I quite often do: I'll let an author have a cover rough with a bit of a mistake in it, like some text that needs to be a couple of point sizes higher. Authors and agents like to spot things to fix, and if there's nothing to fix, they sometimes want to fix things that aren't broken.)
(offtopic) OMG!!! I'm a tech writer, and I used to do the same thing when submitting my publications to our former production manager, whose job was NOT to edit publications but to check production details, but who felt that she wasn't doing her job if she didn't tell you to correct something. I'd put an obvious mistake (like a typo in the variable for the manual name) on one of the first pages, and then she'd leave the rest of my file alone, relieving me of the need to spend time explaining to her why something she didn't understand was correct. Nice to know I'm not the only one who's developed this strategy! (/offtopic)
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #8
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Nice to know I'm not the only one who's developed this strategy! (/offtopic)
It's a classic!
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
I was just wondering (daydreaming) what the process for cover design is? When a publisher accepts a manuscript for publication, how do they go about designing a cover for it? What input does the author have?
For me it started with a general chat about what sort of cover I had in mind and what sort they were thinking about. I was asked if I had any strong feelings about it - all I asked was that there were no faces on the cover - I just don't like them, they freak me out.

Later I was sent a draft cover to see what I thought about the images and text, again I could make comments/requests/suggestions but the final say was always with my publisher.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:04 PM   #10
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For me it started with a general chat about what sort of cover I had in mind and what sort they were thinking about. I was asked if I had any strong feelings about it - all I asked was that there were no faces on the cover - I just don't like them, they freak me out.

Later I was sent a draft cover to see what I thought about the images and text, again I could make comments/requests/suggestions but the final say was always with my publisher.
Do you remember what sort of questions they asked you when you had a generalised discussion about the cover? Also, was your cover anything like you wanted it to be?
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:55 PM   #11
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Depending on your publisher and contract, you can have no input or a lot of input.

I filled out a cover request sheet. It included basic physical descriptions of the characters, important story points like genre and time period and a story synopsis. It also asked if I had any special requests. My special requests are pretty basic. I usually ask that they keep it simple and PG enough to promote widely. With my pub, once I get the cover it's pretty much done. Only if something is grossly off can I appeal to my editor.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:14 PM   #12
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It's a classic!
I am totally going to steal this tactic next time my boss wants to review a document.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:38 PM   #13
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Do you remember what sort of questions they asked you when you had a generalised discussion about the cover?
I can't remember specifics - it was just a sort of chat about it and was all quite general - at that stage it was more about the 'feel' of the cover than the actual images.

Quote:
Also, was your cover anything like you wanted it to be?
Some of them have been beyond my expectations, and some of them have been....alright. But at the end of the day I trust that they know more than I do.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:09 PM   #14
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For me there was a questionairre on the publishers' 'writers only' section of their webpage which you filled in with your preferences and asked things like descriptions of characters, locations and so on. I filled that in as soon as I was accepted and included some photos of locations I had taken which were relevant.

The first cover they sent me did not work at all because it was too 'silly' to match the mood of the book (the editor agreed with me on this and as she is also a cover designer in her laughably called free time I guess she knows what she is talking about and I pleased she saw things the same as me). The second cover they sent me was the one shown below and that far better suited the book.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
I was just wondering (daydreaming) what the process for cover design is? When a publisher accepts a manuscript for publication, how do they go about designing a cover for it? What input does the author have?
With a traditional publisher, you have little input on the cover. When you get famous and wealthy, your input will increase.

For self publishing:

1. No cover, just one of the stock templates provided by the manufacturer, such as lulu.com or createspace.

2. A photograph of your own.

3. A photograph lifted off the internet NOT! They are almost certainly under copyright, and you may or may not get your parts in the wringer for infringement.

4. A photograph custom made for you, with all rights.

2a and 4a. A signed release from any person appearing in your cover photograph.

5. A photograph from a royalty-free site like istockphoto.com

6. Title and author, etc, can be added using Photoshop, Gimp, or other graphics program.

7. Get a custom cover made by a specialty artist. Prepare to pony up $100 to $1000.

8. Adjust the cover to the specifications provided by the book manufacturer, eg, 72 dpi, 1/4" trim all around, etc.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
With the larger presses, you pretty much have zero say in what's on your cover. I was shown the images for both my covers after they were designed. Both were tweaked slightly because of requests I made (one left part of my name off and the other had a flaw in the image), but I had no input as to how they were designed.

The marketing department will either read the book, or work off notes about it, but their main concern is that the cover attract potential readers.
I'm actually grateful if that's the case... That is something I would dread doing were I to ever get published.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VoireyLinger View Post
Depending on your publisher and contract, you can have no input or a lot of input.
Indeed - with my two previous (small) publishers, I was asked if I had any ideas, filled in a little sheet, how did I see my characters etc. I had, hmm, mixed results. Couple of covers I LOVED. A couple I was meh about. One that made me go 'You what?' though they did change it afterwards a bit

This time it went like this:

Editor: We're thinking of doing this. Me : Sounds cool.

*some time later sends over first proof*

Me: Holy shit that's awesome!
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:46 PM   #18
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This time it went like this:

Editor: We're thinking of doing this. Me : Sounds cool.

*some time later sends over first proof*

Me: Holy shit that's awesome!
That's the way it's supposed to work!
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