This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Caroline Hogg has worked in publishing for almost ten years, at Little, Brown Book Group and more recently at Avon, HarperCollins. In February she'll be joining Pan Macmillan as Senior Commissioning Editor for Commercial Women's Fiction. She knows her stuff!
Our next question comes from a Novelicious reader who asks:
How do you decide on a book cover?
Caroline says: A lot of people spend a lot of time working on and discussing a cover before it’s finalised. It very very rarely comes down to one person’s decision. The first step is the editor putting together a brief for the designer – not just ideas about the cover itself, but an outline of what sort of reader would enjoy it. What they watch on television, where they shop, their age, what else they read. I aim to give a clear picture but not be too prescriptive; as an editor you’re good with words, but you have to let the designer do their expert thing with the visuals.
When the designer is ready to show their first round of concepts, these get shared at a cover meeting, attended by other editors, designers and colleagues from the sales and marketing teams. Everybody gets to pitch in with their reactions and everyone’s opinion is important. New versions of covers will come back into the meeting until the majority likes one in particular. When we have a cover we think is really strong – but not quite perfect – the editor will excitedly show it to the author and agent, for their thoughts.There are lots of things to consider in putting together a cover, including but not limited to: will it stand out on the shelves? Will it work as an ebook thumbnail? Does it fit with other books in that genre or should we make it stand out as something different? What do the retailers think of the cover? Should it be photographic, illustrative, or focus mainly on the title? The one thing you can guarantee is that it’s about trial and error: you can’t answer all of these questions before you’ve started the design process. Different styles and looks need to be tried out, considered, reworked or left behind if they’re not working out. The cover does so much in attracting a reader to a book, we have to be sure it’s as brilliant as it can be.