Go ahead. Judge a book by its cover.

We all know when it comes to books, you can’t beat great content. But packaging matters a lot, because that’s how you attract readers in the first place. So every author wants to know as soon as possible in the publishing process what their finished book is going to look like. The book cover is definitely one of the most exciting parts of publishing a book, and it’s a critical piece of marketing and selling, not just to readers, but even before that, to retailers.

At OSV, book cover design is a collaboration between editors, marketers, and most especially designers, with significant input from authors. We work hard to get this initial “invitation” into a book right, because we know that readers will absolutely judge a book by its cover. (Don’t you?) The cover doesn’t just convey a book’s thesis — it should do that, of course, but if that aspect gets taken too literally, the cover falls flat. That’s where the artistic angle comes in. A great book cover doesn’t simply say what a book is about, it evokes just the right feeling in a potential reader. It lets a reader know that this book won’t just tell her something new, it will get at her heart.

The brainstorming process on a book cover can take days or even weeks, with lots of false starts, diverse opinions, scrapped concepts … and some pretty funny drafts along the way. For a great example of the process at Simon & Schuster, check out Publisher’s Weekly’s cover story on the path to create the cover for Mandy Len Catron’s book “How to Fall in Love with Anyone.”


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