Joanna Penn: Crowdsourcing Your Book Cover Design

POSTED ON Oct 29, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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People do different things when confronted with choices for their book cover design. As a book designer, I like to present clients with real differences. This starts a dialogue between us that will eventually end in the final cover design that goes to press.

But how do people pick between the options they are given? I often ask authors about this after they’ve made their selection, and I’m frequently surprised by their answers. Colors are very important to a lot of people. Some designs seem jarring or inappropriate. Sometimes they just can’t say.

And some people like to get others involved in the fun. Authors frequently bring sample covers to our publishing group meetings, asking for opinions. Or they post them to one of the publishing discussion lists and solicit input, which never fails to materialize.

Joanna Penn Finds Another Solution

Joanna Penn The Creative Penn

I’m working on a book design for fellow-blogger Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. Joanna has published three nonfiction books herself, and is now getting ready to publish her first novel. It’s called Pentecost, and it’s a thriller. I can tell you it’s an exciting read, and its title tells you that it’s somehow connected to the observance of the Christian holiday.

After going through a few rounds of designs and revisions, Joanna had succeeded in narrowing her design options to just a few choices, each of which conformed to her requirements.

Being a web 2.0, social-media savvy author, (and the author of the popular Author 2.0 program) Joanna decided to use her popular blog to make the last decision of all: which cover would be the final selection?

She posted the four finalists and invited reader’s comments. In addition, she set up a proper poll at the bottom of the blog post so she could generate statistics for objective guidance.

Within 24 hours there was a clear winner, and that’s the one Joanna and I are working together on now. Not only that, but there were plenty of suggestions in the comments, and several readers went so far as to design their own versions of the book cover.

But cleverly, Joanna had gotten her readers to tell her what they wanted to see in the book cover—which book was the one they would buy. With over 125 responses so far, I think that’s a pretty good marketing test, don’t you?

An Interactive Publishing Event

Joanna has used the publication of her book as the springboard to greater engagement with her readers. She plans to follow the whole process of creating, launching and marketing the book so her readers can learn by sitting alongside at each stage.

I think that’s a great model for teaching. If you’d like to follow along on Joanna’s journey, click on over to her blog and check out the cover competition. Here’s a link:

The Creative Penn: Designing and Choosing a Book Cover

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by aemde,

Joel Friedlander

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Joel Friedlander

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