The Seven Things you Need to Tell your Cover Designer (Before you get started)

When you are having a book cover designed, most of the work will be on the cover designer, however, it is important to communicate with them well, in order to make sure you get the exact result you want.

When I work with authors, they are often very keen to provide me with as much information as possible – often writing lengthy emails, detailing all of the aspects of their book. Honestly, much of this information I don’t actually need to know.

But there are some important things that you must tell your designer, which they will find very useful, far beyond a lengthy summary of your manuscript.

In this short blog post, I’m going to go through the 7 things that your designer should absolutely know about.

1. Information That Must be Included

This might seem obvious, but it’s important that your designer knows the basic information that must be included in your cover. This includes the title of the book, your name (especially if it is different from your real name), as well as any “taglines” that you want to include on the front.

Often authors include information about if they have previously written bestselling books and other such things. Make sure that your book cover designer has all of this information before they get started. The placement of these texts on the cover will often depend on their length, and this can change the entire design of the cover.

2. A Short Summary

Emphasis on short here!

It is very rare for a designer to read your entire manuscript. Therefore you must provide a summary of the work. I would recommend keeping this summary less than one page. In this description, don’t just write what happens in the book, but talk about its important themes and ideas.

3. The Genre

Books can often cross genres, but the chances are that your book does fit into one category better than another. The cover should match the genre that the book most aligns with – this avoids confusing your potential readers before they even buy the book.

Having a book in multiple genres is fine, but having multiple genres on a cover is not. When your designer goes to work on the cover they are going to look at the bestselling books in the genre and make sure that when your book cover stands among them it doesn’t look out of place.

4. The Mood

This is when you consider what emotions the book is going to evoke in your readers. Think about words like “triumphant”, “adrenaline pumping” or “romantic”. Once a designer has this information they can select the right colors, fonts, and images to match it. As an example think about how mystery books have completely different covers because they evoke various moods.

5. Iconic Objects, Characters, and Locations

This is a slightly complex issue because often books can have an object which is very specific, for example, a super-unique 17th-century pistol. The reality is that finding (and legally using) a picture of this item on the cover is going to be very difficult.

On the other hand, if your book is set in Budapest, then this is important information for the designer because they can use a picture of the city as the basis for the book cover.

You don’t necessarily need to think about this too much, just be aware that if you do specify a very particular object, then it might not be possible for the designer to use it on the cover. Fortunately, book covers don’t need to perfectly reflect the contents of the book as their main purpose is to attract the potential readers.

6. Your Favourite Covers

This is perhaps one of the most useful pieces of information your cover designer can learn about. They will look at the various covers and create something similar based on this, only specific to your book. Think about the covers you like, but also what you like about them – do you like the color, the atmosphere, the boldness of the text? Anything can help at this point. If you want to go the extra mile, think about some book covers that you hate, include these as well, and tell the designer why.

7. A Signature Element

If you’re writing a series, it is important that the covers match throughout. Failing to do this confuses readers, and hurts follow up sales.

This means that your designer needs to come up with some signature elements that ties all the books together. You can probably identify these on existing series if you look carefully at them. It can be done in many ways, such as through the use of fonts, images, or having a specific symbol on the book cover that identifies it as a part of the series. Some authors even decide to have a logo created for the series!


So these are my top tips for better communication with your cover designer! If you include all of this information, it should make the design process easy!

The Seven Things you Need to Tell your Cover Designer (Before you get started)