Book covers: an interview with a designer

DAUGHTER, DISAPPEARED has a fabulous new cover!

My designer, Mark Thomas, ( has re-done it to more closely brand it with GLASDRUM.

As a debut self-published author I was pleasantly surprised by the success of the Daughter, Disappeared, the sales of which have been mostly generated via facebook – and I would credit this to the eye-catching cover that perfectly captured the essence of the story and made people stop and click.

Social media has a huge role in the increasing success of Independent Authors – it gives us a platform to connect directly with our readers instead of having to rely on an agent or publisher to have to do it for us (never mind trying to get one of them to reply to our emails!). No matter how good our writing and story are, we need to find a means of getting people to give our books a try, and my one piece of essential advice for any new Indie Authors would be to invest in a cover by a professional designer.

Google will find you lots of so-called designers but I went to Reedsy to source mine, as they verify the identity of all the professionals they work with, and take care of payment and standards of work, which is reassuring.

I interviewed my designer, Mark, to see what he had to say.

What took you into designing book covers?

I’ve had a long – LONG! – career working in graphics, photography, video and marketing.

After all those years of working for big organisations – and everything that corporate working entails – I finally decided to get down to working with clients on a one-to-one level. Direct, personal and with no external distractions.

And I’m pleased to say it’s worked out rather well.

How do you decide upon a design with an author?

That’s dependant on the author and the project.

Some authors have clear ideas about what they want; others less so. And some have no specific thoughts, but just know they want a great cover!

Ironically, sometimes the latter client is the easiest to work with; not in the sense that I can do whatever I want (“It’s a book about the Russian Revolution…” “Right then: dinosaurs!”), but it means we can jointly look at the tone of the book and the market it’s aimed at. Those can be the best collaborations.

What are your aims when you design a book?

Well, obviously the cover needs to be relevant to the book: to its story, tone, intended market, and the aspirations of the author.

As authors can see examples of my work (either via my Reedsy profile, or my own website), they should already be comfortable with the kind of work I do.

I normally read a detailed synopsis of the book, and / or ask authors to provide examples of book covers they like. These act as fuel to decide what creative direction the cover(s) should go and I usually produce 2-3 demos following discussion with the author.

What advice would you give authors looking for a designer?

Firstly, pick the right designer for the job: familiarise yourself with the style(s) of their work and – where available – read reviews of work they’ve produced previously.

Second, be open to challenge over what you think your cover may look like. To cut a long story short: I did a book cover a few months ago where the cover ended up being very different to what the author had originally wanted. This was because – after discussion – the author realised the book had a different tone when I read it, compared to how they imagined it would be read. Sometimes you live with a project so long, you can lose perspective on how others will perceive it…

Finally, never ignore the inside of the book!

For over 90% of the books I work on, I also do the interior formatting for both print and ebook.

If you are an avid reader of self-published books, you’ll understand that a badly formatted (ie: typeset / designed) interior can put you off a book far quicker than a grammatical error.

Like the cover, consider getting your book interior professionally laid out. The more the final book looks and reads like a professionally-published item, the more chance you have of good reviews and repeat custom.

The design of your book is a creative investment, not an expense.


If you are an author and would like to chat to Mark, without obligation, about cover or interior book design, you can contact him here: or

Here are some of his other recent designs:

And if you’d like to find out more about DAUGHTER, DISAPPEARED or GLASDRUM, here are the links for that (the majority of reviews are on the Amazon UK versions of the book):

DAUGHTER, DISAPPEARED (Love, death, culture clash, escape…):

Amazon USA link:

Amazon UK link: 

GLASDRUM (One town. Five women. Dark events):

Amazon USA link:

Amazon UK G link:


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