In this episode, we are going to talk about how to create your best book cover ever by using the power of a design brief.

But first, episode 200 is coming up!

  • We’ll be recording live!
  • We’ll have prizes, lots of prizes, including one for every live attendee. You’re guaranteed to win!
  • There will be cake! Ok digital cake, but still…
  • Very fun elements involving you …
  • One of the most exciting episodes we have ever done, you won’t want to miss it.

Event Details:

  • What: Live episode recording.
  • When: 7pm Central Time on Wednesday July 31st 2019
  • Where: Register Here 
  • Why: Because 200 episodes is a big deal!

Design Brief Template

Show Notes


  • Briefly, what is a design brief?
    • Info your designer needs to develop the best cover possible.
    • Like a wedding plan for your book cover.
  • Briefly, why do authors need one?
    • The curse of knowledge destroys many book covers.
  • What is the curse of knowledge?
    • It’s when you forget what it is like not to know what you know about your book.
    • The designer knows nothing about your book. The better informed she is about the project, the better of a design you will get.
  • This is where a design brief comes in.

What is a Design Brief?

  • A document that describes the design you need.
  • Sets budget expectations.
  • Used to collect bids from designers. Help designers decide if they are a good fit for your project.
  • Describes your goals and timeline
  • It communicates “commanders intent” it described the “what” not the “how.”
  • Top designers often have their own brief templates, sometimes called an intake document.
  • Services like 99 designs walk you through the process of creating a design brief.

Why are Design Brief Important?

  • Many design projects end up with unhappy people on both sides of the coin, and the cause of the frustration can be traced back to the very earliest contacts.
  • Projects without good briefs:
    • go over budget (briefs help you hit your budget)
    • run late (briefs help the project  faster)
    • miss the mark (briefs help you get the design you want)

Design Brief Tips

  • Communicate the marketing goal of the design. Then trust the designer to accomplish that goal.
  • Answer the “why” of buying your book. Why would the target reader want to buy your book? This may be obvious to you but not to someone who hasn’t spent hundreds of hours inside your story.
  • Describe a single target reader rather than a demographic range.

Design Brief Mistakes

  • Trying to do too many things with the design.
    • Rule of thumb: One symbol per cover,
  • Conflicting priorities:
    • Rule of thumb: When everything is a priority nothing is.
  • A lack of specifics
    Rule of thumb: Avoiding meaningless phrases like: “I want this design to pop”, “Just make my cover look good.”
  • Too much micromanaging.
    • You are not a design expert! Hire a designer you can trust to accomplish your goals.

Design Brief Elements

  • Summary
  • Budget
    • Describe a range of what you are wanting to spend.
  • Timeline
  • Goal
    • What do you want the design to accomplish?
  • Audience
    • Who are you trying to influence with the design?
    • Describe a representative person.
    • What books do they like to read? What movies do they like to watch?
  • Emotions
    • What emotion do you want someone looking at the cover to feel?
  • Book Description
    • The blurb of your book plus any other information you think will be helpful.
  • Genre Description
    • Describe the specific genre of your book. Be as specific as possible.
  • Similar Titles/Similar Authors
    • List popular titles that are similar to your book.
    • Pick one that you want to copy. (optional)
  • Symbol ideas
    • Share symbols for your book that you think will resonate emotionally with readers.
    • Dragon, a knight, a couple kissing.
    • Remember, one symbol per cover.
  • Available Resources
    • Photos?
      • Rooms example
    • Previous covers?
    • Previous designs?
  • Your Definite “Nos”
  • Cover Elements and Priority
    • You pick the priority for each element.
      • What to prioritize most depends on your strategy.
      • When everything is a priority, nothing is.
      • Feel free to explain why something is the priority level it is
    • Title
    • Subtitle
    • Author
    • Series Name & Number
    • Cover Symbol
    • Endorsement
      • If Stephen King has endorsed …
    • Back Cover Copy
      • This is part of the design!
    • Back Cover Symbol
    • ISBN & Shelving Instructions
  • Book Details
    • Book Dimensions
      • 6″ x 9”
      • 5.5″ x 8.5″
    • Paperback/Hardback
    • Number of pages
  • How you like to communicate
    • Texts?
    • Email?
    • Phone calls?

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Transcript generated algorithmically by Sonix(Affiliate Link).

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