Anatomy of a Book Cover

My new book cover is here, as you may be aware. It’s not exactly a secret at this point. I’m really happy with what I ended up with. Since I just got the proof copy of the print version, I wanted to dive into it a bit and look at why I made the decisions with it that I did.

Continue reading and see the print version:



People like to say that writing is a solitary profession. It's one person, putting down word after word until paragraphs become chapters, and chapters become a final draft. But there is so much about creating a book that isn't solitary at all. For example, I have amazing critique partners and beta readers, who talk me through troublesome plot points, give me incredible feedback, and celebrate with me when a draft is done. When you're writing, it is invaluable to talk with people who believe in your story and want to help you tell it the best way you can.

In order to get a book ready to publish, even more people join in. These are the professionals that work behind the scenes, helping authors take their final drafts and polish them to perfection. One of those professionals is Monica Haynes of The Thatchery. She is the cover designer that has created all of my book covers, including my newest book, EVERY LAST MINUTE. Talking with Monica about cover design and seeing the beautiful covers she creates is one of the most exciting times in the publishing process!

Continue reading and see the cover:


The Dos and Don'ts of Getting the Most Out of Your Book Cover Design

*This article first appeared in The Writer's Block as a guest email.

Do your research. Find the perfect designer.

Take some time to search through your book’s genre on Amazon. Clicking a book’s Look Inside button will take you straight to the book designer credit in the front matter. Follow that up with a quick Google search, and you’ll find the book designer’s website with their portfolio, packages, pricing, and contact information.

It’s fine to shop around and talk to multiple designers about their process and availability before committing. You’ll find out fast if they’re quick and responsive to your inquiries and whether they’re straight forward about their business practices. If you feel at ease after speaking with them, you might’ve found your designer.

Don’t forget the discount!

If you can, do plan on having your print cover and ebook cover designed at the same time. You’ll usually get a pricing discount from the designer. Most designers, including myself, will allow you to order a print cover/ebook cover combo, with the intentions of having the print cover designed later (if you’re not quite ready yet).

Do give your designer a synopsis.

Or even better, give them the whole book! Designers probably won’t have the time to sit down and enjoy each client’s read before a project, but it sure is handy to have while in the middle of the design process. How do you describe your main character, what does your environment look like, what is the overall tone? All of these and more help the designer create you a truly custom cover that reflects your story.

Don’t hold back.

If you have a vision, please share this with your designer. They’ll let you know if it’s feasible and may even develop it further into something spectacular. Sending your designer links to book covers you admire is helpful, too. But also try to keep an open mind when your cover designer pitches you other cover concepts—you might find yourself face to face with a winning design.

Do think about where you’ll have your book printed.

Will you use CreateSpace, Ingram Spark, both or neither? CreateSpace and Ingram Spark have different printing requirements—CreateSpace is happy with an RGB cover while Ingram Spark requires CMYK with a 240% total ink limit. Paper thicknesses vary, too, which will in turn change the spine width—you’ll need a different cover for each platform.

Upload your manuscript to your print-on-demand vendor of choice to verify the page count once formatting has been completed. This is the number you should pass on to your designer.

And always, always, always order a proof copy before making your book live. Take the opportunity to look over your interior file and book cover for any issues. Double check everything!

Don’t focus on one scene.

Remember that your book cover is a representation of your story as a whole and not its parts. Steer away from replicating specific scenes from your book.

Do capture the overall emotion/action/premise of your story.

Catching your reader’s eye with a standout cover requires thinking outside the box and persuading a reader to have an emotional response to a visual cover. Depending on your genre, your designer can do this with color, typography, texture, or other design elements.

Don’t accept a design you’re not happy with.

Let me preface this by saying that The Thatchery offers unlimited rounds of revision—I want you to have your perfect cover.

However, for many design agencies, it’s standard practice to put a cap on the amount of revisions they’ll allow. Keep this in mind when shopping for a designer. Due to limits on revisions, it’s so important that you communicate clearly and concisely throughout the entire process. If your designer has a cap, and you’re still not satisfied, let them know anyway. They might be willing to work with you—no one wants an unhappy client.

Do think ahead.

Will your book be a part of a series? Tell your designer. You’ll want to maintain consistency throughout the series. It’s your brand! If you’re featuring a character on your covers, your designer will make sure there’s plenty of stock photography of your chosen model. Or they’ll create a stand out title treatment to carry the series through multiple books. Either way, it’s great if you can give your designer a heads up—they like to plan ahead.

Don’t limit your branding to your book cover.

Take it one step further. Include elements from your book’s cover design into your website. Maybe it’s the font or color palette from your book’s cover—whatever it is, make your website feel like your brand’s home base. Go ahead and snoop around the websites of authors Ellen Smith and Keith R. Baker for ideas. (Both sites designed by The Thatchery.)

Remember to brand yourself with your social media banners, your Facebook and Bookbub ads, your newsletters, your blog post graphics, your landing page, and your Instagram account. Presenting your brand in a cohesive manner makes you and your books unforgettable.

Do market your books with 3D covers.

If your designer doesn’t provide you with a few free 3D book covers for marketing purposes, it’s easy to do with the right software. First, visit CoverVault and download the free mockup you’d like to use. If you don’t have photoshop, visit select their Photography plan (includes Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC) for $9.99 a month. You’ll even get a one month free trial so if this doesn’t work for you, you’re not out any money.

If you’re new to Photoshop, I’d give CoverVault’s tutorial video a quick watch. Simply double click the smart object titled “Cover” in the layers palette, drag and drop your book cover to the new window, and hit save. If you go back to your original tab, you’ll see your nice brand new shiny mock up! Don’t forget to save again (both the psd file and a jpeg). And if you want a 3D cover with a transparent background, you’ll need to deselect the background from the layers palette and save your image as a png. You’ll have an extra step for mockups with spines so steer clear of those until you feel comfortable with the process.

P.S. All clients of The Thatchery receive complimentary 3D book covers with both design packages.

Don’t neglect your cover if you’re on a budget.

I get it. There might come a time when hiring a professional designer just isn’t in the cards and even the pre-made cover is out of reach. While I don’t recommend going the diy route, I’m happy to share some cost saving tips for those that have no other options.

Create your own book cover in Canva. It’s free to join, and you’ll have instant access to their selection of ebook cover templates, most of which are available for a small fee. Canva’s user friendly interface makes it easy for even the inexperienced designer to design a nice book cover.

Another option is PicMonkey. Like Canva, it’s free to join, but you must pay a monthly subscription fee of $7.99/month to access their premium tools. And although they offer templates, the ebook isn’t among them. If you’re savvy enough though, you can use their tools and how-to videos to create something nice.

For the adventurous author, download the free alternative to Photoshop, Gimp. Their website offers a plethora of tutorials to get you started. Or you can just go with the Photoshop subscription I mentioned earlier in this article.

With most of these, you’ll need stock photos, and if you’re on a tight budget, free might sound nice. Head over to Pexels for thousands of beautiful photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means you’re free to use them for personal and commercial use.

Find free fonts and other goods in your email every Monday from the Creative Market. Signing up is free—just be sure to check the licensing of each free item you download. For more open source fonts, head over to Font Squirrel or Google Fonts.

Do have fun.

Whatever route you choose, whether it be designer, template, or your own creation, enjoy the process. You’ve written this amazing book, and it’s satisfying to see your words come to life in a visual way. Show it off, flaunt it, have a huge book cover reveal party, create a million graphics with your cover and share them everywhere. Make readers remember your book. The book cover is your calling card. Pass it around!

Monica Haynes of The Thatchery

Questions? Feel free to contact me at


Undercover Secrets: Award Winning Author Chris Patchell Interview The Thatchery

Like many Indie Authors, I want to make my book cover sing (well, more like scream in my case, but you get the gist). So when DEADLY LIES was in need of a cover makeover, I went looking for an artist who could capture a whole new look for the story. I found a great one. Meet award winning cover designer, Monica Haynes who shared some of her thoughts on what makes a great cover design.

How did you become a book cover designer? Tell us a little about your background. How long have you been doing it?

After spending a decade as a college registrar, I became a stay-at-home-mom to my young children. I enjoyed every second of this period in my life, but eventually, I realized I needed something more. That’s when I found M. L. Gardner, author of The 1929 Series. I was a fan first, responding to her ad for a part time assistant after having read every book she had published. We clicked, and I began designing her Facebook banners, and then her book covers among other assistant duties. My BA in photojournalism was put to use and with her encouragement, I opened the doors of The Thatchery, my book cover design business, in 2013. 

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AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Cover Designer Monica Haynes

Monica Haynes has been an avid book enthusiast since reading Hooples on the Highway, her first non-picture book, in 2nd grade. She’s tinkered on computers since the 1980s when the Commodore 64 provided hours of programming joy. FYI – her parents still own the original monitor. She married a fellow book enthusiast and plans to organize a family book club once her children move past the “See Spot Jump” stage. Monica possesses a BA in Photojournalism from Western Kentucky University.

You’ve been a book lover from a very early age. Do you credit anyone with fostering your love of reading?

Yes, books have always been a big part of my life thanks to my parents. They read to my brother, sister, and I every night and provided us with plenty of books and trips to the library. Those trips to the library were monumental—we cleared shelves. Why don’t libraries provide shopping carts? Someone needs to make this happen! 

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The Benefits of a Custom Cover

Time is an investment, and you've certainly put a lot of that into the book you've been writing. You've hired a great editor. You've put together a top notch marketing plan. But have you given much thought to your book cover?

Although pre-made covers are great (heck, we've got some available here and more coming soon), they don't ALWAYS capture the essence of your story. It's like trying to squeeze your foot into a shoe that's just a half-size too small–obviously not the perfect fit. You need a cover that nails your concept and in turn, generates those sales you've been seeking.

That's where a professional book cover designer steps in. At The Thatchery, we strive to bring your vision to life. We take your input and your synopsis and turn that into a visual masterpiece that reflects the real goodies waiting inside. 

Whether you have a firm cover idea or you're needing some guidance, we've got you covered.....literally. 

Some Big News!

Monday mornings aren't my favorite day of the week. It's hard to get back into the daily grind, especially when children all involved. So this particular Monday, I was taking a moment to myself, gulping down a barrel of coffee, quickly checking my email and preparing to put on my "Driving Miss Daisy" hat to take the kids to school. is a favorite site of mine. There's so much information for indie authors, cover designers, bloggers, etc. And whenever I see something from their site in my inbox, I'm sure to sit down and read it from beginning to end.

So like I said, this particular Monday, I found an email about the monthly cover design awards from I knew that my design for M.L. Gardner's 1929 had been submitted, and I was anxious for the feedback this contest offered.

Scrolling through the list of entries, I found my baby, my cover for 1929. And next to her critique, I also spotted a gold star! What does that mean?

 My Gold Star!

My Gold Star!

Although there is only winner in each category, other covers that were considered for the award or which stood out in some exemplary way, are indicated with a gold star.

YES!!! I'll take it! The following critique accompanied my gold star and I swear my feet did a little happy dance under my desk. 

It can be hard to combine more than two images and end up with a cohesive look, but this cover succeeds, and part of that is the careful color decisions and the mood that’s so well expressed. Looks like an epic, something you’d like to really settle down with. ★

To say M.L. Gardner's 1929 inspired me is a bit of an understatement. It drove me. I had the opportunity to create a cover for an EPIC tale of loss, despair, hope and desire, one that takes place in a very visual time period. I designed with a frenzy and had the time of my life.

If you're interested in reading her six book series, you'll find M.L. Gardner's Amazon author page here. You'll also find a collection of short stories, a novella, and a 1929 serial–all which fall under the 1929 Series umbrella. Pull up a very comfortable chair, and immerse yourself.