A Book Cover for Wherever the Road Leads

Efforts to design the perfect book cover for Wherever the Road Leads have been grueling. So many decisions! So many great ideas! Thank you to my wonderful team of advisors.

Recently, I posted blogs about selecting the photos and the pen and ink illustrations for my memoir. The process of choosing from an existing group of possibilities was much easier than creating a book cover. With a good designer there are infinite possibilities and variations. Ideas flow, but in the end I had to make the final choice.

A book’s cover fulfills many functions. It must represent the book’s story at a glance so a potential reader knows what to expect inside. The front cover should entice that reader to turn the book over and read the blurbs or reviews on the back or read the end-flaps of the paper jacket. A front cover design uses an image (or a collage of images) and displays the title (and the sub-title, if there is one) and the author’s name. Sometimes it also has a short excerpt from a review or a note such as “By the best-selling author of ………….”

Contemporary book covers tend to use simple images and very large fonts. The title, or if the author is famous the writer’s name, often dominates. A simple picture behind a huge font is easier to read in the thumbnail size used by on-line book retailers such as Amazon, BookBub, or Barnes and Noble.

Knowing these basic requirements my designer, Cole, and I set to work. In the beginning, I probably gave him too much input, including that I wanted to use my art work. I sent him a broad selection of my drawings, a watercolor, and a few of Tom’s photographic images I thought might work. Based on the title Wherever the Road Leads, we wanted to show a road and a van.

Several of my friends and a beta-reader had commented that the van is an important character in my memoir. But the image couldn’t be just any VW van—I insisted it be our green van, correct in every detail. Unfortunately, few of the photographs Tom took showed the van to advantage. “The Turtle” was either in dark shadow, hidden by trees and bushes, or out of focus. As a result, I began to make pen and ink drawings of the van. We hoped to photoshop these drawings into some of the pen and inks done on the trip. I scanned the black and white van drawings into Adobe Photoshop, then colored them using watercolor or colored pencil and scanned them again. Some needed refining or further clean up. In the interest of accuracy, I created four versions— each showing a different side of the van from either a front or a rear aspect. I also drew separate versions showing the bundles we carried on the roof for the first year and the van with the roof-box Tom built for our overland trip to India. I am now totally over ever doing another drawing of our beloved green Turtle!

Cole created composite images setting the van into earlier 1972 landscapes and two new background images I created. Turning these into covers necessitated looking at fonts. My first choices were script fonts as these suggest a handwritten journal. However, script fonts proved difficult to make really bold and were often difficult to read.

After Cole created several cover designs we both liked (two in color and two in black and white), I sent them out in a poll to my beta-readers and some of my long-time friends familiar with our travel adventure. The results came back with two, strong winners, both in color.

However, one of the people polled, a free-lance editor who I have corresponded with over the years, commented that all the samples had a retro feel. She added that this might be OK as my story takes place in the 1970s but that I probably didn’t want prospective readers to bypass the memoir because it “looked like an old book.” She recommended that Cole and I study more modern covers; a suggestion I took seriously.

I wanted to see what Cole might create with fewer  suggestions from me. I wanted to let his design talents fly. When he sent me the next set of samples, this time using stock images rather than my art work, I was prepared not to like them. But surprise! I loved what he had done. Further work with the images and with some of Tom’s photos we hadn’t considered before resulted in more contemporary cover designs. I sent out three of the new designs with the top two from the first round. The results were clear—the strongest contender remained one of the “retro” covers but with a more contemporary font arrangement.

I was definitely time for me to make a choice!

Here is the design that will be used as the cover for Wherever the Road Leads.

Now Lorie DeWorken, my interior designer, can proceed with the interior design, a subject for another post.

Lorie DeWorken, book designer. www.mindthemargins.com https://pubpronetwork.org/provider/mind-the-margins-llc/

Cole Waidley, graphic designer of logos, book covers, pamphlets, and clothing. https://www.linkedin.com/in/colewaidley


6 responses to “A Book Cover for Wherever the Road Leads”

  1. Diana Smith

    I love your choice! Good Job!

  2. Elaine Atherton


  3. Joanie Rowe

    I like the final one you chose. I liked the other artist cover but I like the way the van is traveling on the one you chose. I makes me think I need to travel if only in a book.

  4. Karen Dennis

    I like the final copy of the book cover very much, and I enjoyed the description of how you worked to achieve the look you wanted. You are simply remarkable in your talents!

    1. Katie Slattery

      Karen, Thank you for your continued support and appreciation.

  5. jillghall

    What a sweet cover! Congratulations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *