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How Book Cover Development Happens

Bethany House has a consumer blog which often allows readers access to the behind-the-scenes processes which go into new titles. Recently the subject was about covers. Click the title below to read the entire article.

Ask BHP: What Changes Are Made to Covers?

…At our first meeting, editorial and marketing representatives meet with our creative director to talk about their vision for the covers of that season’s books—usually about 15-16. All will have read the synopsis (the book is rarely finished at this point), and they’ll bring covers they really like or other visual aids. The creative director, Paul Higdon, then translates this feedback to the designers.

For the next stage, the team is mostly looking at pencil sketches or stock photo approximations of what the poses for a cover might look like, especially when there will be a photoshoot of one or more models. This is the point to say, “Wait, that’s a totally different direction than the first two books in the series,” or “I think the silhouette is a better idea than the split-scene” or “Let’s be sure to have her outdoors instead of inside.”

Later, after many hundreds of hours of work on photoshoots and Photoshop, the designer will present a semi-final version of the cover…actually, usually 6-10 different versions. Some are in totally different styles and tones, others are similar with smaller variations on the type or model pose. We’ll give another round of feedback, this time more specific as to what we like or don’t like, voting on our favorite designs…

…Once we agree on the right design…there are still tweaks to be made. At the near-final stage, here are some recent comments jotted down in meeting notes.

  • Check with the author to make sure those earrings are appropriate for the time period. It might be fine.
  • I’m not loving the series logo…can we get rid of some of the froufy frilly things around the text?
  • The woman’s dress is really close to the blue dress of the first book in the series. Let’s make it more teal, or a different color altogether.
  • Will the author like this? Because it’s a very different direction than what we’ve done for her in the past.
  • So…no one else thinks the guy in the background on Cover 3 looks creepy? (Consensus: we did not go with Cover 3.)
  • Let’s make sure to get her hair a little darker. It’s edging toward blond, and she clearly has light brown hair from the character description.
  • The author’s name should be in a thicker type to make it easier to read…

The article then continues with an example of three different covers for a Tracie Peterson title. Click here to read the whole piece. Click here to look around the whole website.


We recently shared with you some covers considered for a Thomas Nelson book you probably carry. We ran this on our store website and newsletter and invited customers to come in to see which one was picked (which was neither of these.)

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