Vann Baker

Vann Baker

Whether I am designing a custom cover for a new book or redesigning an existing book cover (also called a makeover), the book cover design process has the same 9 steps.

Over the years I have refined this design methodology in order to first lay the proper foundation for the project and to keep the project going smoothly from discovery through delivery of digital artwork files.

Steps 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7, over half of the required steps in the process, all require involvement by the author in order to proceed to the next step.

The 9 steps from start to finish are:

  1. Discovery – Brainstorming, discussion of cover ideas, goals
  2. Cover concepts – Visual cover design mockups of cover ideas
  3. Cover concept review – Review of concepts between author and designer
  4. Cover concept revisions – Refinements to a concept to make it perfect
  5. Working digital files – Files used by designer to create finished artwork
  6. Proofing/proofreading – Making sure the cover design is ready for publishing
  7. Cover design artwork approval – Author sign-off of the cover
  8. Final digital files – Conversion of working digital file into one or more publisher-ready file
  9. Digital artwork files – The file that the author will use to publish the book cover

Step 1 – Discovery

As a graphic designer, it is vital to me that I learn as much as possible about your book, your vision and what you are looking for in your book cover design. It is also important for me to understand your market—who is buying your book—so that I can do everything possible to communicate effectively with your readers.

Free design consultation

I offer a free, no-obligation design consultation. Why would I do this? First of all, talking with you about your book helps me to understand what your book is about, what your cover design goals are and gives me an opportunity to learn what you like or don’t like in terms of color, typography and imagery. Secondly, the free design consultation also gives you an opportunity to learn more about me, the book design process and an opportunity to brain storm and talk about the design direction for the cover before I get started.

Getting Started Form

Prior to our design consultation, I ask authors to fill out the Getting Started form, which provides me with all your book information as well as contact information, a day and time for the consultation and what platforms you are working with to publish your book so I will know what sizes are needed for the artwork. This gives me an opportunity to get familiar with your book and goals so I can be ready with questions for you and so we can spend more time brainstorming.

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Step 2 – Cover concepts

I provide two to three design concepts. The concepts are based on information emailed to me from the Getting Started form and from our design consultation by phone during the discovery process.

The purpose of design concepts is to visually represent different graphic ideas or approaches for the book cover design. The design concept will blend together typography, color, graphics and photography in most cases.

Design concepts are presented to the author as .PDF files.

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Step 3 – Cover concepts review

When I have the book cover concepts completed, we will arrange for a time to talk by phone. I will then email the design concepts to you or provide you a link so you may view the .PDFs.

It is important for me to get direct feedback to the concepts and for me to talk with you abut the colors, typography and  design elements for each concept. The discussion about the design concepts also helps you to understand the design process and why different design decisions were made.

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Step 4 – Cover concept revisions

In some cases one design concept will be “the one.” In other cases, there may be some combining of concepts and further design “tweaks” to make the cover design perfect. I provide several rounds of design revisions in order to complete the cover design.

With each design revision, I will provide a new Adobe PDF file, which is numbered in order to keep track of the revision process (i.e. Your-Book-Title-Concept-2a.pdf).

Once the cover design is approved, I will begin the next step.

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Step 5 – Working digital files

Working digital files are the editable digital files used in the creation of the book cover design, (as well as spine and back cover for printed books). I use Adobe Photoshop for photograph manipulation and retouching. I use Adobe Illustrator for typography and InDesign for putting it all together.

In the case of printed book covers, I will create the cover, spine and back cover based on your printer’s specifications and size requirements. If you have registered your ISBN number, I can generate the ISBN barcode and place it on the back cover.

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Step 6 – Proofing/proofreading


Proofing is the review of the working digital files to make sure everything is complete, that is, that all book cover elements are in the design. Proofing can include making sure the tagline is present, the ISBN barcode artwork is present, the publisher’s imprint is present on the book’s spine and making sure no type or elements are too close to the edge especially with printed book covers.


Proofreading is the process of checking all text to make sure everything is spelled correctly. I will provide you an Adobe PDF file so you can proofread all text (including ISBN numbers and back cover text on printed covers). In the event a change or correction is needed, you can email me with the change or correction needed and I will send you a new PDF for approval. Each proof is numbered (i.e. Your-Book-Title-Proof-2.pdf).

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Step 7 – Cover design artwork approval

Once you have proofread the artwork and there are no changes or corrections needed, you can notify me by email or by phone that you have approved the cover artwork. If you give me a verbal approval, I will email you a confirmation.

After receiving your approval, the working digital files are now considered to be final, with no further changes or proofing needed.

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Step 8 – Final digital files

In some case where I am creating several different versions of the cover for several publishing platforms, I will need to resize the artwork so that the digital artwork files I send to you will be the correct size and file format needed. Usually I will have several final digital files for a book design project.

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Step 9 – Digital artwork files

Digital artwork is the actual publisher file you will need for uploading to online publishing platforms. For example, Kindle Direct Publishing accepts files which are either JPEG or TIFF. Most print publishers want a high resolution PDF with the standard 1/8 inch bleeds. The size and type of file will vary according to the platform you using.

I will provide you digital artwork in the file formats you request at the time the order is placed or during the discovery process.

In some cases your printing company or publisher may provide printing specifications or an actual layout template file showing how close type can be from the edge of the design and actual trim size. It is very important that your printer specify the width of the spine, which will be determined by the number of pages in your book and the thickness of your book’s paper stock.

Delivery of Files

Once I have completed creating all the digital artwork needed, I will either email you a ZIP (compressed) file with your publishing files or send you a link to my DropBox account so you can easily download your files.

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Questions, comments or concerns?

If you have any questions about the book cover design process, please email me or call me Toll Free at (888) 229-2730.

Be sure to take advantage of my free, no-obligation cover design consultation. Go to the Getting Started With Your Book Cover Design page and take a minute to fill out the book information form.

To learn more about the custom book design packages I offer, please click here.

Vann Baker
Elegant Book Design