Susan Grossey

Under the covers

One of the most exciting aspects of indie publishing is having control of the appearance of your books.  I once spoke to a “professional” author (i.e. one whose books are published the traditional way, via a contract with a publishing house) and he said how much he loathed the covers of his books – and I thought that was very sad (a bit like having to admit that your children are ugly).  As regular readers of this blog will know, I have no visual artistic talent at all, but I know a man who does – and he is “my” marvellous cover designer Andrew, at Design for Writers.

I am about to publish a short business book called “The Solo Squid: How to Run a Happy One-Person Business”.  Andrew has done the covers for the Sam Plank books and for all the money laundering piggy books, but “the Squid” is a new venture.  His first requirement was for me to look at other business books aimed at the small business and tell him the covers I liked and disliked; among my dislikes were anything too shiny and corporate and American or anything too cute-sy and homemade.  And – of course – I wanted a squid on the cover.  (Inevitably, with my love of research, I spent a happy half-day reading about the differences between squids and octopuses, and the use of squids in legend, literature and medicine, and discovered that those who study squids are nicknamed cephalopodiatrists.)  Poor Andrew – imagine trying to make artistic sense of that lot.  But he worked his usual magic (which, like all magic, requires enormous amounts of work behind the scenes) and came up with two options:

Squid 1    Squid 2

I adored them both, of course, but in the end plumped for the blue/sea-green cover for a few reasons:

  • The red cover looks more mysterious – perhaps better suited to fiction than to a business book
  • The subtitle – and particularly the word “happy” – is much more obvious on the blue cover
  • The shape of the squid on the blue cover coincidentally quite closely matches the squid-like bullet points I have used in the text of the book
  • Some people said that they found the red squid scary!

Andrew is now completing the back cover and spine of the book and then it’s on to the next stages: ordering a paper proof (which I always do with a new title – I don’t bother if it’s just a revised version), final checking and editing – and then publication.

With many thanks to Andrew at Design for Writers for permission to reproduce his cover designs in this blog post.


  1. Roy McCarthy Avatar
    Roy McCarthy

    You first recommended D4W to me Susan and they’ve always done a great job for me. Good luck with the new book.

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      It’s one of the suggestions in my squid book, Roy: if you’re no good at something and it causes you difficulty or excess effort, find someone who can do it and pay for their expertise!

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