How a book cover is created

Books covers are designed to grab the attention of and evoke questions the prospective reader needs to have answered. My brother designed the original book cover. He listened for months as I rattled on and on about what I was writing. He provided, not only a soundboard to bounce ideas off, but also input on what he would like to read. He is a graphics artist and photographer. He and I have worked with each other previously on other projects, so it only made sense to have him create the cover. We went back and forth over the course of several months with different ideas before we settled on the final version.

Then, I was picked up by Calumet Editions and I re-wrote parts of the novel which was released June 2017. Of course, they changed the book cover. Yep, my brother was miffed. He got over it when I showed him the new cover.

So I’d like to share how my brother and I envisioned that first cover, why we did what we did and then show off the Calumet Editions version, which now graces the novel.

There is meaning behind every aspect of the cover within the context of the novel. Let’s review the parts before you view the progression.

The ones and zeroes spell out the name of the novel, “In Plain Sight” in binary code – the language of computers.

The stars in the top left and right corners represent China and Somalia.

The character in the middle has a hoodie styled after the U.S. flag. The character represents those who wish to harm the U.S. and hide amongst us, “in plain sight.” No face is shown meaning this could be anyone.

The smartphone and earbuds represent how the skimming took place.

The credit card’s stripes are the colors of the flags of Iraq and Syria, the two nations named in ISIS.

In Plain Sight is the first novel in the Jon Wells series. We wanted to make sure you knew more will be coming.

The first thirteen digits displayed on the credit card are the novel’s ISBN.

Lastly, my name, as the author is on the credit card. We thought that would be an interesting way to place my name on the cover.

With that, here is the first version. The creep factor, first colors, Chinese stars, and headphones are all evident.

Version 2. We added the 1’s and 0’s, moved the title, and gave it a red tint.
 Version 3 changed the green strip to black, the credit card came to be, we moved the Chinese stars, draped the hoodie in the American flag, and added the Somali star.
 Version 4. We tried moving the title to the credit card, but that didn’t make sense after we viewed it.
 Version 5. We tried shifting the card so It looked more like a flag so the title would be more prominent. But alas, that looked even worse since we lost the whole credit card skimming aspect.
 The final version of my independently published novel.

And then the publisher made some changes. These changes were made to distinguish this version from the other and also to make it more visible online when viewers only see the small thumbnail version.

Changes made – Changed the font of “In Plain Sight” removed the one and zeros from the front, removed the cell phone and earphones, removed the white start indicating Somalia, moved the Chinese stars up, changed the black stripe on the credit card to blue which matches the new blue background. Finally, we added a nice lighting effect around the hoodie to bring it out more, especially in a thumbnail.

What do you think?

In Plain Sight book cover

1 Comment

  1. Great article Greg. Thanks for sharing your journey with your cover. It gives those of us who are thinking of designing our covers food for thought.

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