The Challenge of Book Cover Design

Some of the most bitter disagreements I’ve witnessed in book publishing (aside from contract disputes) are about title and cover design.

At the mid-size publisher I once worked for, we had two catalog seasons (spring and fall) and thus two (very extended) rounds of title and cover design meetings per year. The marketing department was in charge of administrating the process, and it was my least favorite meeting. Conversations would go in circles, everyone’s opinion was more or less equal, and even the smallest differences could upend the process as it neared the finish line. (This is one reason why authors’ publishing contracts rarely give them approval over title and cover—only consultation.)

In my latest column for Publishers Weekly, I discuss an aspect of the cover design process that has become popular among traditional and self-published authors alike: social media feedback.

Unfortunately, as you’ll see, I think sharing your cover on social media to solicit meaningful direction is like throwing a bomb into the process. Read: Don’t Crowdsource Your Cover Design.

Posted in Marketing & Promotion.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Adrijus G (RockingBookCovers.com)Everett Gossard Recent comment authors

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Everett Gossard

Thank you for this. Much appreciated.

Adrijus G (RockingBookCovers.com)

Thank god someone addresses this ‘decision by committee’ nonsense! Nothing but trouble. I’d say it’s much better if author has 5 close author friends in the genre and ask their feedback plus sends out a newsletter for subscribers and ask their feedback (BUT take this part of feedback as general feel, rather taking some specific advice from any one reader). The more people give advice the more we need to take it as ‘directional’ and broad tips (does it fit a genre in general and if a new person can tell it) and from there on take more specific advice… Read more »