How Pinterest Helped Me Get the Book Cover of My Dreams

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 7.14.02 PMI know what you’re thinking. We’re talking book covers this week and what could I, the one Deb whose book cover has been “coming soon” for months, possibly have to say about it?

Well, lots. Because even though I haven’t shared the cover for Chasing the Sun yet, I’ve seen it. It’s finalized and perfect and more beautiful than I ever could’ve imagined. Every once in a while, I open the file on my desktop just to see it and smile. Any day now, you’ll see it, too.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write about the book cover design process. Before I went through it, I had a lot of the same questions that many first-time authors and aspiring authors have:

How involved will I be in the design?

What happens if I don’t like my cover?

Why in the world does it take so long?

Can I get away with printing it on a giant canvas so I can hang it over my desk?

These things all vary from author to author and publisher to publisher, but in my case, the first cover concept I saw for my cover was beautifully, intricately crafted, but it didn’t really fit my idea of a Chasing the Sun cover. Briefly, after opening the file, I panicked. I wondered if it was just me: was I too attached to the book to be subjective? I consulted my husband, close friends, (and the Debs, of course) and my agent, who all encouraged me to speak to my editor about seeing new cover concepts.

Having read that authors often have no say in the cover design, I was hesitant. But it turned out I had no reason to be. My editor was not only understanding, but completely open to feedback. I’m not a designer by any means, so I kept my suggestions focused more on the tone I was hoping for rather than actual visuals. Articulating my ideas proved difficult; I found myself saying horrible things like, “I’d love to see something less dark, but not overly colorful.” (The freelancer in me cringed. Was I becoming THAT client?) On a whim, at the last minute I decided to send my publisher a link to my Chasing the Sun Pinterest board, just to help convey the mood. It contains images that the evoke the setting, themes, and characters in the book.

Weeks later, I received not just one, but several completely new cover designs. I was blown away—all of them could have made amazing covers for my novel. But there was one that took my breath away the moment I saw it; it felt like instant recognition of a face I was only seeing for the first time. To my surprise, the designer had not only viewed my Pinterest board, but actually used one of the images for this new cover. That’s the one, I thought. I just knew it.

And my editor agreed.

I realize I’m lucky that my publisher included me in the cover design process, which was fascinating and eye-opening. Countless people are involved, from the designer to the editor to the marketing and sales team to the managing editor and legal department. Cover concepts need to be approved and deemed marketable, artwork and licenses need to be sorted out, tweaks to typefaces and tiny details (like the amazing glimmer in the O in Lori’s cover for The Black Hour) need to be obsessed over because sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

So that’s what’s been going on with my cover. Maybe it’s taken a little longer than planned, but to me, the wait has been well worth it.

And in case you’re wondering which image from my Pinterest board they ended up using, I promise: you’ll find out soon enough.

 

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Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN (New Harvest/Amazon Publishing, June 2014), about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas. Visit her online at nataliasylvester.com

22 thoughts on “How Pinterest Helped Me Get the Book Cover of My Dreams

  1. Can’t wait to see your cover!

    “I’m not a designer by any means, so I kept my suggestions focused more on the tone I was hoping for rather than actual visuals.”

    I think that’s the right attitude. As someone who used to work as a client liaison at a design firm, I can tell you that there’s nothing our team hated more than being told exactly how to execute the artwork. :P

    • Yeah, it would seem counterintuitive, to hire a design firm (because said client doesn’t know much about design) and then tell them how to do their job. The way I figure, we have to trust the people we’ve chosen to trust. That doesn’t mean don’t communicate, but rather tell them what you want/need, and let them do their thing.

  2. How awesome this holiday season to see Pinterest as a reason to get something DONE rather than feel guilty about all the holiday to-do crafts we simply can’t possibly do! I have a strong vision for my book cover, too, and it’s encouraging to remember that we don’t have a say if we don’t ask. Nice post!

    • You’re so right, Andrea! If I don’t let myself get caught up in the idea of Pinterest perfection, I think it’s actually a pretty amazing tool. Cover aside, I’ve also found some great recipes that I use regularly.

  3. The suspense is killing me! :-) I love that your Pinterest board helped shape your cover, and it’s great that you spoke up. Your publishing team sound like great people to work with!

  4. So totally NOT FAIR to leave us hanging like this. I’m salivating a little, Natalia. But I’m off to look at your Pinterest board. And such a wonderful story that the publishing team members WERE willing to work with you — and mostly that you’re in love with the cover. SO… will you be able to hang that canvas over your desk? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Can’t wait to see the cover reveal!

    • Thanks, Melissa! Believe me, I’m bursting from the anticipation, too!

      As for the canvas, I may have to wait and see. It’d be a pretty big canvas, and I’m hoping by the time the book pubs, we’ll have moved to a new place with a larger writing office for me and big, beautiful walls.

    • Thanks, Heather! I can’t wait to do the same for you when BECOMING JOSEPHINE is out. Just a little over 2 weeks now! (You know, in case you needed me to remind you ;)

    • Aw, Pinterest is good for a lot of things! It’s actually one of the only social mediums that I’m able to enjoy without getting addicted to. I can take it our leave it, but I do check in every once in a while and have found great recipes for double chocolate chip banana cookies, smoothies, turkey meatballs, and one terrible banana bread, in a pinch.

  5. I can’t wait to see your cover – especially now that I’ve heard the story behind it. It’s so wonderful that your editor was open to suggestions, and that together you found a cover that captured your novel so well!

    It’s hard to wait – but I’m sure we’ll all love it as much as you do.

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