Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Another conference room caper -the book cover meeting

July 31, 2008 at 9:12 pm

I’ve heard a myth that when it comes to designing book covers, the publisher’s word is law. Maybe authors have a say in the early phases – but forget it – the final decision comes from the all powerful publishing house. At least in NY,  I’m told.

Not so, here in the Floridian tropics of HCI. The beat of our drum is more on the Caribbean side than Manhattan and authors have historically been allowed to stretch traditional publishing rules.

Don’t get any ideas, we’re trying to fix that.

But for the time being, we suffer from too-many-cooks syndrome when it comes to cover review time.

The process, sans the recurring frustrations felt by the ed board, is actually fun.

The editors either start with a germ of a visual idea suggested by the author (who at that point is welcome) or an image or two or three is plucked from the thin air floating around the second floor editorial offices.

Then it’s off to see the wizards in the mac-infested art department. (Im a mac fan, so I say that with love)

It’s their turn to interpret usually vague ideas of color, image, font selection, and other cover minutia.

Make sure the title can be seen on the shelf from a reasonable distance.

That’s a key requirement for the art people to obey. Then many, many other factors come to play. Might it subliminally resemble a current or classic bestseller of similar genre? Resemble it too much? Does the image suggest anything about the subject matter? Should the author’s photo be on the front of the book? The back cover?  Not at all?

How about no image? All type. Big bold letters, authoritative, traffic-stopping.

When people  say “never judge a book by its cover” they’re not speaking to authors or publishers. How it’s judged may or may not reflect the book’s content, but the visual effect both aesthetically and intellectually can make or break a purchase opportunity.

Covers are a big deal.

Today’s smorgasboard of cover ideas didn’t disappoint.Again, we were talking spring 2009. And, trust me, by the time pub dates roll around, the cover design can change 360 degrees. If not more.

Suffice it to say, that everyone’s opinion is voiced. Mine probably a bit more frequently than others. Big surprise. But, you know how I adore the creative process.

Since I have a sister who’s an artist and I take cool pictures with my iphone, you might as well consider me an expert. I do. All right, all right. At least I’m interested.

Sales people, marketing mavens, publicity hounds, editors and artists alike sit around the table and comment. I still marvel at the unpredictability of people’s tastes. If like them, how could they not agree with me? A lifelong question for me probably best reserved for the therapist’s couch.

What comes to mind when you think of words like “wealth” and “sexual healing” and “infidelity” and “food disorders.”  See anything yet? Now put it on a book cover. Not so easy, is it?

It’s nothing short of a miracle how the cover evolves and every so often we get it just right. If you want to see some of my recent favorites, go to and check out, You Lost Him at Hello; Staging Your ComebackThe Green Beauty GuidePurr More, Hiss Less; Officer & A Junkie; and one of my all time faves, God’s Shrink.

You can never understate the importance of a good cover. We all know the experience of a book yelling across a room saying “pick me up” “take me home.” It almost sounds dirty. But attraction is attraction is attraction and the visual creates mysterious and powerful chemistry in the human brain. And other places.

Like it or not. Book covers sell books.

Comments (1)

1 Comment »

    How true about book covers! It’s not often that readers get an insider’s look into the mysterious process. You make it fun and personal at the same time. Love your writing and the candor in your life stories. Keep it up!

    Comment by ChristineAugust 2, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

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