Q&A with our Cover Designer

June 27, 2016 by Nikki Braun

Design is tricky. What looks great to one person, might not to another. People have specific tastes and styles. So how does a designer create something so beautiful and pleasing to most?

Our cover designer, Nikki Braun has been creating book covers for over 20 years, designing about 100 covers a year. We asked you (our readers) to send in your questions for Nikki over the month of June. Today, Nikki is sharing her answers to your questions:

Q: Where’s the best location for the title and author’s name?

A: There is no real rule about this, as you can see when you go to the bookstore. Titles can be on the top, middle or bottom of the cover. For me, I let the image decide where the title will go. I always place it where it has the most appealing flow so everything on the cover is working together.

Q: Is a picture or graphic better?

A: For me, this really depends on the book. A Young Adult fiction would look great in a graphic but a serious book on grief may be better with a picture. Design is all about being flexible and being willing to provide several options that would meet the needs of your client.

Q: How important is it to have a subtitle on the front cover?

A: I personally love a subtitle. It gives me just a little more to go on in understanding the book. I also think a subtitle fills out a cover design and leads the eye down the cover.

Q: How do you make a cover attention-grabbing?

A: There are many elements to design — the perfect image, the right fonts, complementary colours, the flow of the layout. You have to bring all the elements together to create a cohesive and eye-catching design.

Q: What are the steps in creating a book cover?

A: First, I review the blueprint which is full of all the important information. The Blueprint has details like title, size, who the target audience is, any ideas the author has on the cover and a synopsis. After reading everything, if I feel like I need more I will ask for a couple of chapters of the book. I spend some time thinking about everything until an idea forms in my head. Then I’m off to find the image that best suits the idea. Once I have the idea and image, I start the layout process — picking fonts, arranging the title, picking colors. I keep playing, changing, and moving everything around until I’m happy with what I see.

Q: What’s the best thing to focus on?

A: Early in my career I worked for a company that liked to focus on the title — “big and bright” was what they wanted. However, I have seen some beautiful and eye catching covers that focused on the image and the title was very small. I think trusting the designer in this matter will give you a beautiful cover that draws people in.

Q: What’s a “no-no” for book covers?

A: I think the biggest no-no for a book cover is trying to over explain what your book is about all on the front cover. Don’t pick every theme in your book and try to display it on the cover. Pick one theme and go with it.

Q: What are your favourite/ least favourite trends right now?

A: I’m not a fan of the really big author name on the front cover. I know why it’s done; I’m just not a fan. However, I do really like a simple clean cover that isn’t overstated. But I also understand that simple and clean is not always best for every title.

Q: How do you get in the creative zone?

A: I remember when I was a young designer, it took a lot for me to get into the zone. I remember a lot of pacing. But as the years have passed, and I have become more comfortable in my own creativity, I can slip very easily in and out of the creative zone. I really enjoy that about this stage in my design career!

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: I get inspiration from everywhere. I’m constantly looking at the world around me — websites, books, magazines, ads, packaging. I’m not even conscious of it anymore. But if I’m feeling a bit stuck, I go outside. I love nature and that is always where my creative will come alive. In the summer, I will go to my garden and dig in the dirt for awhile and clarity will undoubtedly come.

About this Contributor

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Nikki is a mom of 3 energetic kids. When she isn’t playing Candy Land she is designing book covers. In her spare time her husband will find her in the garden or at the craft store.