Cover Story

There’s a story behind the cover design for my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors that you might find interesting.

I’ve heard that many traditional publishing houses don’t allow their authors to provide any input or feedback—they just come up with a design, and the author has to accept it. (I’ve experienced that myself.) The idea is that the publisher’s designers are professionals who know what sells well. Problem is, they’re not as familiar with the book as the author is (or as attached to it).final cover 250x400

With my new book, I had the wonderful privilege of working with a publisher (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) that actually encouraged my input. When it came time to design the cover, they sent me a form, asking for my ideas. I was thrilled!

They even sent me five covers to choose from. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for any of them. They just weren’t what I had envisioned when I thought about my book cover. When I told my husband that, he got out his laptop and asked me to describe what I had in mind.

My last two office jobs were as a graphic designer for good-sized corporations. And my husband’s favorite hobby is taking pictures (mostly of cars) and doing amazing things with them using Photoshop. (He likes to make car calendars, and one of his shots was even published on the cover of a national magazine.)

Within a couple of hours, my husband had designed a cover for my book that I absolutely loved! It was everything I’d envisioned…and even better.

I sent the new design to my publisher and asked, as politely as I could, whether he would consider it. To my great relief, he wasn’t offended. We decided to take an online poll of all the designs to see which one people liked best.

In the publisher’s poll, my design placed third out of six. Not bad! In my poll—which went out specifically to my target market (mainly writers, editors, and proofreaders)—my design got more than twice as many votes as any of the others. And the comments I received on it were far more passionately positive. What a delightful confirmation!

Several of the comments I got provided valuable input on what specific things worked (and didn’t work). So when I sent my poll results to the publisher, I asked if we could do a combination of various aspects from the different designs: background color from this one, font from that one, graphics from others. My publisher was hesitant at first, saying that conglomerations usually don’t come out very good. But he agreed to ask his designers to give it a shot. (Again, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have such a flexible publisher who was willing to work with me on this!)

The final design he sent me didn’t look a bit like any of the others! But it did incorporate most of what I had in mind. And although my heart is still a little partial to the design my husband created (no surprise there!), I am very happy with the cover we ended up with. (You can see all of the designs on my blog at