One of the first things we do at Unbound, after a manuscript has been delivered, is brief the cover design. This involves discussions in-house with the editorial, marketing and art departments about how we’re going to position a book in the market; comparisons to other titles in the same genre to analyse what we can do to make it clear to a book-buyer that this is a book they might enjoy, and a broader conversation about creative approaches to making a cover really represent the book in an exciting, engaging way.
At the end of this discussion process we decide which designer we’re going to approach for the cover and finalise the brief. This kicks off a three-round process: in the first round, the designer sends back three or four different rough options for the cover design; in the second round, one or two of these designs is taken through and finessed further, and in the final round a design is settled on and filled out with all of the other details of the book (blurb, subtitle, author biography, and so on) in full jacket artwork.
This can be a sensitive process for some people because they might already have a vision for their cover in mind. The key here is be very clear about what you see in your mind’s eye at an early stage, and most of all to be open-minded to the fact that the team involved in the creation of the jacket have a keen design eye, are aware of all the latest trends, and in particular are focused on making sure your book has the best chance possible in a bookshop.
Once the jacket artwork is confirmed, if the book is a hardback we start to think about all the other components – what colour will the board under the jacket be, to complement its design? What will the endpapers look like, and what kind of feel do we want the overall book package to have?