Cover design is essential to successful publishing – PlashMill Press

plashmill covers composite
Some PlashMill Press book covers.

When you navigate the minefield of becoming a published author, one of the most important things to remember is this: a good, classy cover design that speaks to the content of the book is essential.

In today’s competitive retail market, good cover design must be as effective and eye-catching in all the digital or e-book formats as it is on the shelf of a conventional store. Potential readers are exposed to a book’s cover design for only a few seconds before moving on, so it must be strong enough to engage them, involve them, and lead them towards the purchase.

In other words, you need a good designer.

rod fleming the warm pink jelly express train

If you’re trying to do all of this yourself, which is a lengthy task that requires courage and commitment, then you should know that the cover design is one of the areas where self-publishers in particular — but even large publishing houses — fall down flat. Be honest with yourself: are your graphical skills at the level of someone who has trained for years and then spent many more working successfully in publications and graphic design? Is it worth the risk of your book failing, with all that you have invested in it, to save a relatively small amount of money on cover design? It seems at best a false economy.

Competition: your book is not alone on the shelf

Your book will be in direct competition with others that do benefit from investment in good cover design. It will compete alongside them for the same readers, who perhaps glance at the cover for a few seconds. If they move on, you’ve lost the sale before they even read the marketing blurb. Think about that. In terms of marketing individual books to buyers, nothing is more important than the cover.

Your book has certainly taken months, maybe even years to write. Why risk wasting all of that?

PlashMill Press considers high quality professional cover design to be one of

plashmill press jean winter-main cover

the most important aspects of book preparation. The most elegant typesetting and precise editing is dependent, for its impact, on people actually picking up the book and reading it.

We work with authors and marketers to improve cover design

When we design a cover, we take into account the content and target market of the book itself. We discuss the best approach to take to cover design in the broader context of marketing. What’s the target market? Is geography important? What’s the subject area? What other interests are potential buyer likely to have, that we might exploit in our design?

When we are working on a series of books we male sure that there is strong visual consistency in terms of colours, palettes, typography, typefaces and imagery. Sometimes we use purchased images and sometimes those that authors themselves can supply. We strongly encourage authors of memoirs, or of factual books, to supply as many relevant pictures as they can. (Specifications available on request.) Often, however, we will commission or execute photography ourselves.

Cover design, like everything we do, is a matter of consultation and cooperation with authors. We do reserve the right to a final say but we always listen to authors’ input. One humorous example was when an author, whose book was otherwise acceptable, tried to insist that, prominent in the cover design, should be an image of a naked couple running hand in hand along a beach. We rather felt we had to decline!

Authors and retailers like our designs

plashmill press the tobacconist cover
The Tobacconist, Jennifer Dalmaine

Humour aside, such eventualities are rare however. In nearly all cases, our designs are liked by authors and reviewers. They also gain strong approval from retailers as well as buyers. Retailers are always the bellwether of success in terms of customer approval; after all, they have the job of selling books to as many individuals as possible. Buyers only think in terms of their own preferences while retailers see the broader picture of trend appeal.

We have always had a reputation for powerful cover designs. This post shows you some of our successful designs from the last ten years. Naturally, we put as much care into all our covers as we did into these.

If you have any queries, please contact us using the form at the foot of this page. All queries are confidential.


Covers for Rod Fleming


Other Authors


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