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From Blank Slate to Cool Cover


How to find the right cover designer for your novel
by Nicole Eva Fraser

I’m not usually a procrastinator—but I delayed getting a cover design for my novel I Don’t Think It’s
That Simple till after I’d polished and proofed the manuscript and prepped it for e-Book formatting. Why? Because Cali MacKay, who designed the cover for my first novel, The Hardest Thing in This World, was no longer working in the profession, and I was going to have to start my designer search from scratch! Finally, when I couldn’t procrastinate any longer, I dove back into the process.

First Steps
I wrote the cover blurb for I Don’t Think It’s That Simple. After that, I jotted down a list of key ideas and
their visual translations. This gave me starting points to share with my new designer…whoever she
or he might turn out to be.

Here’s My Cover Blurb:
Do you think Evan Leighton is a stalker—or a good guy looking for love in all the wrong places?
And how about Julia Atwater—is she an innocent flirt or a shameless manipulator? The one sure
thing is that they both love Julia’s teenage son Hunter—then a surreal accident changes the course
of all their futures. Evan and Julia may touch your heart, they may frustrate or infuriate you, but you’re
guaranteed to recognize someone you care about—even yourself—in their story.

My List of Key Ideas Boiled Down To:

  • loneliness
  • love (romantic love and love for a child)
  • the solace of nature, especially the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan
  • basketball

My Very Basic Visual Translations Included:

  • a man or woman walking alone on a beach, seen from behind to keep the figure universal
  • maybe an inset silhouette of a young man playing basketball
  • maybe an inset of a man and boy, suggesting a father and son relationship

I sketched the visuals into a rough cover and added the title and my name in the layout.

Next Steps
I decided to search for existing book covers whose color palettes, layouts, specific images, or
overall feel resonated for me. I searched Google Images for contemporary fiction and contemporary
romance covers, eventually finding some I connected with
Then I began searching for cover designers whose portfolios resonated for me and whose services
fit my budget. Book Cover Designers (list at, Book Cover Artists & Illustrators
(Goodreads forum), and Affordable Book Cover Designers (list at provided
great leads. Eventually I switched to a basic Google search, “book cover designers,” and found
Fiona Jayde Media. Her site and portfolio captured my interest and I felt she could be The One.

Working With the Designer
I queried Fiona, attaching my rough sketch and notes. She sent me a personal reply, attaching her
questionnaire for potential clients, including questions about the mood of the novel, main character
profiles, and emotional keywords, and she requested links to the fonts and other visuals I’d been

After reviewing my answers, Fiona sent me her ideas. She said my idea of a woman walking alone
on a beach, seen from behind, was a strong central image; and that an inset silhouette of a
basketball player would be too busy, but she could incorporate basketball imagery in the font. She
also suggested fonts with more impact than the ones I’d found.

That all sounded good to me, and I felt relieved to be in the hands of a pro. At that point, Fiona and I
agreed to work together, I paid a 50% deposit of $67.50, and the project moved forward in earnest.
Fiona selected a stock photo from one of her preferred sites. She adjusted the colors to a moody,
natural palette I wanted, selected the fonts, and devised the layout. Her very first draft was close to
perfect and I requested only a tweak before signing off on the final cover; click here to see.

As you can tell, getting from the blank slate to the cool cover was a somewhat painstaking process that, for me, couldn’t be rushed. Be sure to allow enough time in your pre-production schedule for your ideal book cover to be professionally designed.

About the Author:
Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, forthcoming in Summer 2014; The
Hardest Thing in This World (2013); and GPS for New Novelists: Navigating the 5 routes to
publication (2014).



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