Alice of the RocksWe are going to start a new feature at Morning Rain Publishing. I am Jo Clendening, the designer of Morning Rain’s book covers, and I want to share with you my design process for many of the covers I create.

When I work on a book cover, I have a loose process that I generally follow for each and every book cover. Of course, I need to remain flexible, but overall the process is as follows:

  • I consult the book blurb that was created by the Morning Rain I am looking for elements of the blurb that I can translate into visual experiences.
  • I ask the author what they envision as a potential book cover. This part of the process is very important to Morning Rain Publishing, as we want to ensure the author is as excited and happy with the design as we are. We are a partnership in publishing.
  • After making a few quick sketches, I produce around three first round drafts of the design for the author. These drafts are pretty rough at this point. I don’t want to go too far into the design if I haven’t been able to translate the story onto the cover properly. However, most times it has been my experience that I do fairly well, and the author agrees upon a design to go forward with.
  • I refine the design choice in rough digital draft. This means sometimes I am still working with a “watermarked” image, or a low-rez comp (low resolution composite) image.
  • I have chosen the title font by this point in the process. I like to get the typography settled sooner than later so we can simultaneously create the inside book cover page that will go into our final eBook. That page consists of only the title and author name. The title on the cover needs to be prominent and easy to read if the cover is smaller. This is important since we are primarily an eBook company, and our covers are viewed smaller (on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play) in the book catalogues.
  • Next, I spend the time creating the high-rez, final cover for the book. I like to make sure I create a higher resolution image for any printed advertising we might need to create after the book’s release. I’ve had several authors make posters of their book covers, and it is for that reason I like to have the highest possible image available. Flexibility is the key.
  • Finally, the book is released! Always an exciting time for our author’s and for the Morning Rain team.

Based on the above process, I will now discuss the design for “Alice of the Rocks” by E. Graziani.

After reading the book blurb, I saw that there were going to be elements of time-travel and romance. Also, the book is geared towards a Young Adult audience, so I wanted to keep it fresh and fun. The author suggested I use the landscape of Tuscany as the story is set in Florence both in 1400s and in the 2000s. In addition, the author wanted to convey the theme of time-travel using spiraling graphics in a creative way.

She wanted her readers to construct their own ideas of the characters, so she opted not to have faces on the cover. This is a popular idea, as it allows readers to make the reading experience more personal. Once again, flexibility is important!

Also, the author mentioned she liked black or white backgrounds, with bright pink fonts.

I took the above ideas, and created some rough drafts.


As you can see, there are four designs, when I previously stated that I try to do three. Sometimes, I want to suggest something outside the box, or something not asked for. You never know where a new idea can take you!

So, in my fourth draft, I tried out the picture of “Alice” from Leonardo da Vinci’s Angel of the Rocks. The painting has significance in the book (you’ll have to read the book to see how!), and I just wanted to propose the idea of using the Angel on the cover. In the end, we used the Angel on the back cover of the print version (you can buy the print version here.)

Alice of the Rocks by E. Graziani

After some short discussion, we settled on the third concept. I added the words “A Novel” and we went with the design almost as it was originally conceived with some minor Photoshop work that I needed to do on the Tuscany landscape. (If you look closely, you can find a car in the landscape. I left it there sort of like an Easter Egg.) Also, I brightened the entry/exit point of the time-travel swirls. The font was settled from the beginning, which made my work somewhat easier.

The final parts of the process were to put the cover into the eBook reader image and save the inside front cover.

And there you have it! The design process for Alice of the Rocks book cover. It was a fun story to design the cover for, and I can’t wait to create E. Graziani’s next book cover for Jess Under Pressure.

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