Book Cover Progressionageisms

Let me first say that I only had one goal for my book cover: I wanted to look at it everyday for ten years and never get tired of it. I couldn’t just like it. I had to love it.

Cory Clubb and I started working together June 11, 2013. I talk about him all the time on here because he’s just. that. good. Click on his name to go to his website, Go Bold Designs. He’s also got a stellar book that’s also a thrillah. It’s stellar. I know. I like read it and stuff. I think it’s safe to assume he designed his own cover.

He sent me the first mock ups July 10th. These were the first 3.MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_1 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_2 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls Mock up #3

I knew that for YA fantasy, a girl in a lush dress was totally in vogue, but I didn’t like any of these models for Bianca, my main character. So he threw this one into the mix for me.

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_4My story doesn’t have anything to do with keys, but the progression of the Miss Mabel’s School for Girls banner began. I also decided I didn’t want my first initial as I originally thought, as you can see in the first three.

Per my brainstorming with him, he came up with following three mock ups:


MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_7 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_8Of the three, the last one (mock up # 6) is the one I liked the best. It spelled my name right, and the person looked like a human. Her eyes were very engaging. The banner was moving towards something I really liked here.

The only problem with this cover is, that while compelling, it actually features my antagonist. That’s a no-no. My friends also said she looked like a porn star. O_o

Back to the drawing board. At this point, DSR convinced me that I needed to go back to the basics and stick with what sells: young girls in dresses. (This is sometime around September). So Cory produced this:

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_9 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_10

At this point, I’m digging the banner.

The top mock up (mock up #9) was far too dark over her face, but I loved the magical, ethereal glitter across the front. He lightened it up for me and added some more swirls for more magical effect in mock up 11 (shown below.)
MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_11I sat on this for a week or two, showed it around, and got the response that people loved the warmth of mock up #10. However, I wasn’t sure I loved it. So he played around with it and sent me the following:


This (mock up 12 above) was the first full cover that I’d seen (he sent it to me 9.22.13). I squeed over the swirls and whorls on the back. The colors were good. Muted but still bright. But now I wasn’t sure if I liked her looking right at me from the front cover. He sent me another idea.


I didn’t like this one at all. (It reminds husband of that one artist that drew the campbell soup cans?) but still wasn’t sure if I was in love with #12, so he came up with another idea.

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_14-2 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_15I liked her looking away, but didn’t love the angle of her face. I thought I’d like the blue, but thought the warmer red tones represented the book better.

At this point, I had re-convinced myself to steer away from the “expected” book covers and do something I would love, so we started towards more of a textbook style cover. I loved the placement of the banner in mock up 16 (below) but didn’t love the symbols.


I also had the bright idea to focus on a woodsy kind of scene, since the forest plays a big role, so he tried these out on me. (This 10.29.13. A little over 3 months since he sent me the first mock ups.)MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_17 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_18But I didn’t love the pastel colors, even though I asked him to retain the pretty sparkles, which he did. Sigh . . . moving on.

At this point, I was percolating more and more on the ‘school book’ idea that he started in mock up 16 above, so I told him to send it to me in different colors and without the symbols.

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_19 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_20 MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_21

This was moving where I wanted, so I sent him some tweaks and he came up with this:

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_22This was definitely up the alley I’d been picturing. At this point, I needed some feedback, because I knew the ‘popular choice’ for the cover would have the young girl on the front. But I didn’t love it. I put up this blog post on December 12th asking for people to decide between mock up 22 (above) and #’s 12 and 14. I got a huge response, tallied all the votes and  . . .

Mock up 22 tied with 12 (the girl looking at the camera with sparkles).

So I did what I wanted. I chose mock up 22, picked a few more tweaks, and Cory sent me this on January 1st:

MissMabelsSchoolforGirls_KatieCross_Cover_23I knew the moment I saw the addition of ivy that I asked for, and the ring of latin words around the edges, that I loved it. LOVED it. But it still wasn’t perfect.

So tweak away with fonts to get a more dramatic look that I liked infinitely better. This is where the imprint went on for the first time. The white box just didn’t do it for me, so I sent him another one and had him change the color of the font.


This was much better. But then I decided to change the wording on the front.


And huzzah! We have success on mockup 25 (seen below) in February of 2014. The perfect cover. So far I’ve looked at it everyday and never gotten tired of it.

Cory Clubb: the genius man of total patience.

Don’t forget: Miss Mabel’s School for Girls releases March 27th. THAT’S IN TWO DAYS.

There’s a ton of giveaway swag to be earned, and positive reviews popping up everywhere, so come by on the 27th and we’ll send you to Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, or iTunes, where you can purchase a paperback or Kindle version for yo’self.



  1. says

    Holy crap! That’s a lot of mockups!

    By the way, I actually love the soup can cover.

    But your final cover is still good.

    I just spotted a typo on your final cover.

    Just kidding. :)

  2. Skittles says

    The final mock-up looks awesome! It’s really unique, and you branched out from the current popular book cover that has an image of the female protagonist. Way to go! 😀

  3. says

    So cool! Very fun seeing how the different covers progressed. Who needs girls in dresses when you have latin wording and twining ivy? 😉 Good luck with your launch! So excited for you! 😀

  4. says

    So cool. Thanks for sharing the process. Also, I’m working out a requested nonfiction book proposal. And as soon as that’s done, I’d love to feature you and your book on my blog. Do a review, etc.

    • says

      Oh, you KNOW I’d love that! I’m sure between the two of us we can, and will, come up with something awesome to feature on your blog! What is your proposal about?

  5. says

    The cover is simple and streamlined. This is definitely the right choice over picturing a young girl. This cover leaves more to the imagination of the reader. Good luck with your book launch!!!

  6. Sonya Pearson says

    It’s fascinating to see the process of making a book cover. This one will invite the reader for sure. I’m so excited to know a published author and plan to buy multiple copies of your novel for my classroom. The students will love the idea that you went to school here, especially the students who attended Erickson. You make us proud.

    • says

      Mrs Pearson! My life is totally complete. The elementary school teacher that first fostered my love for books is on my blog 😉

      Truly. This all began in your classroom in sixth grade!

  7. says

    You’re lucky to have found someone who wanted to do so many mock ups. Not many would do that. Most of them look great, but the one you chose is definitely classy.

    I’ll tweet about your book in two days. If you don’t see anything, that would mean I’m an idiot and I forgot, and you can remind me. And now I’m going to add your book to Goodreads.

    Good luck :-)

  8. says

    I thank my lucky stars everyday that I found your blog! This is HUGE information for me. This part of my process is looming, and every time you do a post like this, I learn so much. (I’ll be contacting your designer, too, have no doubt!) I LURVE the cover you ended up with. Like REALLY LURVE it. It would draw me in over a girl in a dress every time. I’m so impressed.

    Somehow I got my info mixed – I thought you were self-pubbing, but I see a publisher listed on the back. How has that been? Are they supportive? Is that where you editor came from?

    Sorry, no more questions. You’re awesomesauce. Seriously.

    • says

      Oh, awesome sauce is all about making you see what I want you to see. Ask Tuan. He’s good at that too.

      I shot you an email as well. I’ll go into the details there, but I AM self publishing. Antebellum is my imprint. :)

    • says

      Thanks Dave! It totally nailed and then some. I love, love it! It also reflects the innards of the book really well. A veritable circle of life, really.

  9. says

    Your final choice is by far the best as some of the females look more like young women than girls. Fascinating to see the progress & you show that your own gut instinct is the most important one when it comes to decision making.

  10. says

    Katie, thank you so much for sharing how much WORK goes into a book cover! Yes, Corey was indeed very patient, but it’s great that you emphasized how you needed to love the cover. You have to live with it so, of course, it has to be as close to perfect as possible. And I think it is perfect. Good job, both of you!

  11. says

    You know I LOVE that cover! Wow! It’s an exhausting, but exciting process. Congrats, you did an awesome job. I have to say that I am so glad you changed your mind about that first initial thing and decided to use your name. Bravo!

  12. says

    Love this post and all the covers and how different they all are. I like the ones with the girls, but like your final choice better. I have my cover design all picked out. It took a long time but when I found the art I wanted, it was love at first sight and the artist was generous enough to grant me permission to use it. That’s been one of the few easy decisions of my first self-pub project!

  13. says

    I love the cover! I am so over the girl-in-dress covers.

    I double love that this book is available in print so I can put this gorgeously fantastic book on my shelves and I can look at it and love it every day, too. Off to purchase it now! 😀

    • says

      I TRIPLE love that you are going to purchase it! I’m totally convinced that this cover is the reason the books sales are currently going so well! Thanks for contributing to that and getting a copy! Love, love it!

  14. says

    Somehow missed this before, but I totally love the cover progression, and you certainly ended up with the perfect combination of elements. Also, I actually think it’s awesome that the cover doesn’t give us Bianca’s face (or Miss Mabel’s, or anyone else’s) because that leaves her/them to our collective imagination (at least until you end up with a movie deal and casting and all that).

  15. says

    This is fascinating and I think that your final choice is a far classier and more intriguing cover than any of those featuring a character. I am SO IMPRESSED by the tenacity of your designer/illustrator – hope he wasn’t on a fixed rate!!


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