How a Book Cover Unfolds

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Hello, readers! Today, I thought I’d give you a little insight into an aspect of the world of writing that, ironically, doesn’t include any writing. Believe it or not, I often get asked about book COVERS as much as books themselves. So, here’s a little “ABC-123” of the world of book covers:


Step One – First Things First

You have a MANUSCRIPT ready to go – I wish mine looked as intricate as the illustrated one at left! Of course, it took monks their entire lives to create them, so, on second thought, my computer-generated manuscript is just fine…


Step Two – Cover Design

The Backyard Volcano cover started as a minimalist Japanese print. The anthology contains primarily US/Mexico border stories, so we had to move away from the minimalist idea.




At the grocery store, my husband Bob and I saw a guy wearing this tee-shirt, “Advice from a Volcano,” and we loved it so much that we took a picture to serve as inspiration.



We sent the tee-shirt idea to our graphics person and she designed the cover shown at right. We submitted this suggestion to our publisher. Since books are promoted before they are published, we used this image – bold, earthy colors, yet a straightforward cover reflecting the imagery of the main story – for advance marketing of the book. We used this shot a lot, in fact.


Alamo Bay Press, my publisher, sent the design project to an extraordinary Austin painter, sculptor, and designer – Reji Thomas. Reji went in a completely different artistic direction!

We had become so familiar with our bold, volcanic eruption image that we were surprised how the process changed.

Reji re-designed the cover using her own creative vision; that’s Reji holding up her cover art in her Austin studio against a backdrop of other pieces of her work.

Reji’s cover design seemed not only like an artistic rendition, but also a musical one! Book covers are a full scale production whose purpose is to sell books. We were well on our way to a finished cover, but there’s still a final say!



When it comes to book covers, publishers always have the final say, and you have to trust people as experienced as Mick White, Reji Thomas, and ABP director Pamela Booton to come up with an extraordinary cover.

When I give author chats, I’m told how artistic and beautiful the image is, and how it captivates the imagination, especially since it is combined with a title as compelling as Backyard Volcano and Other Mysteries of the Heart.

Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine writer, who was blind, said that writing is not about words; it’s about images. I wonder if he would say the same about book covers.


So there you have it; a quick rundown on the genesis of a book cover. Covers are vital in conveying to potential readers what lies in store for them, and the process to create one is part art, part science. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; when it comes to book covers, that’s not as figurative as you might think.


Until next time!


2 Responses

  1. I live in Australia and friendly with Lee Grue one of Alamo’s writers. I had done a couple of her other books and when I stayed with her last I was painting watercolors, using her porch as a studio. I was using a big stand of bamboo which were turning into people talking as I painted. I left one of these paintings with Lee and a few years later a painting similar to it was adapted for “Blood At The Root”

    • Thanks for contacting me. I’d been traveling and unable to respond sooner. Yes, Lee is a great poet/writer and I have an autographed copy of Blood at the Root!!! Also, I lived in Australia for 3 1/2 years—many moons ago — in the Northern Territory on a cattle station!!
      Thanks for contacting me and I’m sure you know Backyard Volcano is on Amazon! If you read it, please let me know. By the way, it is not yet available in electronic version — that will come later as Alamo Bay Press usually does the paperback first for several months before doing the Kindle version. Best wishes, Kathryn Lane

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