1. Look a the clients answers to the questionnaire.
This is what I send all my clients:
This is still one of my favorite covers I've designed.

- Book Title (as it will appear on the cover)
- Author Name (as it will appear on the cover)
- Series name (if applicable.)
- Release date (or a ballpark date, if you haven't settled on one)
- When does this cover need to be finished by?
- Would you like the series name on the front cover?
- Genre
- Size of front cover
- Comp titles
- Describe the feel of the book
- Please include the description that will go on the back cover (back cover copy)
- Please include anything else you'd like on the back cover (author bio, endorsements, barcode, etc.)
- Spine measurements
- A cover sizing template from the printing company (if they provide one)
- Anything important to background/setting (including season story takes place)
- Main character Descriptions (Name, age, clothing style, eye color, hair color/length, distinguishing features, etc.)
- Story conflicts.
- Any symbols that are important to the story.
- A Pinterest or aesthetic board for the story, if you have it.
- Any dislikes you have (color, style, font, etc.)
- Any other ideas/covers you like.

The main things I pay attention to right now are the genre, feel of the book, comp titles, and any Pinterest boards they have.

2. Set a playlist. 
To create a cover, I have to be in a certain mindset. I have to get into the headspace of the book, if that makes sense. So, I turn on a movie soundtrack that matches those feelings and the genre.

Some of my favorites:

Sci-fi: Interstellar, Ender's Game
Fantasy: Lord of the Rings, Narnia, (see my Wonder playlist below)
Eerie books: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Thriller: Jason Bourne (all of the soundtracks), Mission: Impossible, The Winter Soldier
Pirate books: Pirates of the Caribbean (obviously)

Also literally anything by Samuel Kim.




3. Look at other covers in the genre and target age bracket. 
Typically I do this by looking at the comp titles covers, and searching "Best YA/Adult/MG Genre Covers". Try to keep to recent books from major publishers to see what some trends are. I also look at the covers for the comp titles the author provided.
I also have a folder on my computer just for cover inspiration, organized by genre.

4. Come up with a concept in my head.

This is where I get a clear vision for where I want the cover to go. Sometimes it will end up looking like this, and sometimes it will evolve into something completely different.

With this, I try not to play it safe. This is my time to experiment, even if it isn't exactly what the author asked for. I create what I want to create for now. Sometimes the author likes what I create even better than what they were originally envisioning. (I should note that if an author has a very specific vision, but I think I have a better idea, I provide 2 covers: one with my idea and one with theirs.)

5. Sometimes, I'm still uninspired, so I start with the typography instead. 
I believe that typography should always be an integral part of the cover (usually the focal point), not an afterthought. It should not just be something thrown on top of an illustration or image. It should complement it. The background should not feel complete without it. I want my covers to look natural and effortless, like it was always meant to be that way.

for example:

This looks kind of funny without text doesn't it? Empty?

 So sometimes, I will do this as one of the first things. It might not be 100% complete, but the placement and font will pretty much be chosen.

6. Work on/with the background. 
This is where I look at the other info provided, such as the setting, character descriptions, and important symbols. My style tends to be more graphic-y and more like an illustration, so this typically looks like me putting together a setting/image/collage thing with a LOT of texture.

7. Trial and error until it looks good.
It doesn't always come out right the first time. So, I keep tweaking it until it I'm happy (or mostly happy) with it. It may look like trash the first time around, but I keep working with it and changing things.

8. Send it to the author.
I ask the author if they like the direction it's going in or what changes they would like. This does a couple of things. First, it gives me time away from the piece so I am better able to spot problem areas and figure out how to fix them. It also gives the author a chance to clarify his or her vision to me, suggest changes based on his or her preference, and pinpoint areas I knew were off but couldn't put my finger on.

9. Make requested changes.
This could span from changing something tiny to starting the whole cover over. And this repeats until the author is 100% satisfied with the cover.

       First Round:                                            Finished Product:

Interested in hiring me to design your cover? Please check out my Design Services page for details. From now to December 25, all proceeds from cover designs will go toward my mission trip to the Netherlands.


  1. I absolutely love this! You have a great system here, and your covers are gorgeous!!

  2. I love that first cover as well! So beautiful!


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