Inside Publishing

How Book Covers Are Designed

Ever browse the shelves of your favorite bookstore or library and marvel at the many works of art that comprise the covers lining them? Today we have the privilege of hearing from Eva Winters, a designer at Tyndale House Publishers. Eva grew up in the Western suburbs of Chicago and is one of 6 siblings—all girls! In her spare time she enjoys sketching, hiking, and running. Read on to hear from Eva about how book covers come to life, what inspires her, and what she has in the works currently.

Tell us a bit about your job.

I’m a book designer for Tyndale. With the help of the art director in charge of a certain product, I design concepts for the book cover based on the author’s input, the book positioning (how the book is distinguished from other books), and the audience the author is hoping to reach. Whichever concept we choose to go with is used as the basis for designing the interior.

How did you come to be a book designer?

My job prior to this was very isolating and fast paced. I was looking for a job where I would get to collaborate with other creatives more and spend more time on quality products. I knew two people in the editorial department who were always glowing about Tyndale and the design department here. From what they told me about the job opening, it was exactly what I was looking for! One of my dream jobs has been to be a book designer so I told myself I would at least submit an application and see where it would go from there. I have no doubt it helped that I had two friends here recommending me for the job.

What does a normal day at work look like for you?

A normal day starts with me arriving and checking to see whether I have any new tasks. After that, I’ll usually create a “Now”/“Then”/“Later” list where I’ll prioritize what I need to do for that day and what I want to do later that week. Based on that list, I’ll make sure that I block out time for each task. A “normal day” for me tends to be about the same from day to day, except for Wednesdays, which is when we have our weekly design meeting. During our meeting we share new products or brainstorm/critique/give updates on ongoing covers. I most definitely value this meeting—after spending a couple hours on a project, it’s great to get twenty pairs of eyes on it.

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What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about this job is the amazing group of people I get to work with. So many design departments are competitive or stingy when it comes to helping one another. There is such a great spirit of collaboration within our department.

What is your least favorite thing about your job?

Just little things, like the fact that my commute is thirty-five minutes long. Eventually, I’ll move closer to the office once I get the chance. Also, my job starts at 8:00. I used to be a night owl, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this job is turning me into an early bird.

How does the process of selecting a book’s cover work?

First, we receive a PIF (Product Information Form). Then at the beginning of each season, each product has a “kickoff,” where the acquisitions team, the art director, and I (the designer) talk about what the author wants, how the book is being positioned in the market, and other details. For the next month, I will create comps (layouts of a proposed design) for the cover that will be refined over time. It sounds like a long stretch of time, but when you have other products from this season and last season, things can easily fall off your plate. Next, we reveal the cover to the client (usually three to five covers per book). If there are covers that need to be tweaked or refined after the first reveal, the changes will be made, and we’ll show round two. It’s certainly a team effort when choosing a cover!

What or who inspires you?

Everything and everyone. It’s only cliché because it’s absolutely true! Nature, antique shops, and hand-painted signs have all been inspirations for me. I don’t keep a lot of memorabilia for myself, but I do have the strangest collection of museum brochures, poetry pamphlets, and bits of printed paper.

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What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

Anything that involves hand-lettering is my favorite! I love doing lettering in my free time, so any project where I get to stretch my lettering muscles is fun.

What are you working on currently (if you can say)?

I’ll be a little vague, just in case. I’m working on two One Year devotionals, a kid’s Bible story book, several Message products, and a book for NavPress. It works out great—if I ever get stuck creatively on a project, I can scoot it to the side to work on something else until inspiration comes.

What are you currently reading?

I currently just finished Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. It is one of the two books I’ve read in my lifetime that have made me think halfway through, “I need to reread this.” (The other was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.) It was super intriguing to see Dietrich Bonhoeffer face obstacles that I still see present in our modern day. It’s a long read, but well worth it.

Thank you so much, Eva! See more of Eva’s work here.

Chloe Renzema is the Content Marketing Coordinator at Tyndale House Publishers. Chloe grew up in Michigan where she developed her love of lakes and the outdoors. She is passionate about creating visually appealing content that communicates simply and clearly. In her free time Chloe enjoys running, reading, freelance graphic design work, and volunteering with YoungLife.

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