Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Does Anita B. Carroll Make Those Stunning Covers?

Today is the final installment of my interview with cover artist, Anita B. Carroll. You can find part one HERE and part two HERE.

MW: Welcome back, Anita! Today I'd like you to share a bit about your process. How you work, from start to finish.

AC: Of course! My cover design process is all about the planning, research, reading the book and teamwork. Coming up with the concept is the most challenging aspect of creating a cover, designing the concept is the easy part. It’s like a puzzle, and once I have all the pieces that I need, it all fit perfectly together. 

So, I do a lot of pre planning before I begin the actual design, just like if I were to design my own house I don’t just dive into it and begin building it. I guess this is where my background as a web designer and developer has proven to be so helpful to me.
In regards to how long it takes me to design a cover, there are so many variables that comes into play, but if I were to only count my actual design time, it can be anything from as little as 3 hours to a few days. However, if I include all the planning, research and reading the book, 7 to 10 days is a more realistic view.

To me, designing a book cover is a close partnership between the author and designer, so I want as much input/information as possible. My perspective is that I am responsible for creating a design that needs to be both sellable and attractive, but most importantly that it really represents the story and the author’s vision accurately. I want to ensure the design sets the mood before the reader has read a single word. I want emotion. As an artist, I truly believe emotion sparks inspiration and the author is a key element to ensure the visual representation is true to his or her story.

I wrote an article on my blog that takes a closer look at my cover design process.

MW: What a great article. I can see how that all played into the making of Faery Marked's cover. Clearly you've designed a few covers over the years. What are some of your favorites?

AC: Oh gosh, I enjoy designing so much and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. I will never send anything off to an author or publisher that I personally don’t feel really good about, so picking a favorite would be like choosing favorites over my children. 

However, I do get very inspired when I work with amazing works of photography, and the cover designs for both Kelly Ilebode’s “The birth of the sparrow,”  and Heather Letto’s “Impervious”- which will be released in fall 2014 from BookFish Books- are simply stunning! 

Another photographer’s works that I also really like and have discovered fairly recently is Kelsey Keeton’s of K Keeton Designs photography.  I used Kelsey’s photography for Faery Marked and it is an amazingly perfect fit for the story. I simply love it. I had been searching for days, and when I discovered this gorgeous captured pose of Cameo Hopper I thanked my lucky stars. It was a perfect fit for Callie.

Kelsey Keeton’s of K Keeton Designs photography (

MW: I fell in love with that picture for Callie as soon as you showed it to me. Great choice! What can you tell us about the importance of covers? And, have you ever had an author not like the choices you've made and had to start the design over?

AC: Over the years, having worked as a visual design consultant within a much more conservative license to design, has really molded me into understanding that creating visual representation of essentially a product is all about teamwork. 

Creating a cover design that is a true representation of the story and fits into the author’s vision is so important to me, and I love picking the author’s brain, so to speak. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I admire authors so much, and find it truly a privilege to design the cover for all of you creative writing minds. 
Knowing that the cover design can make or break the success of the book, is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I wrote a small case study article that was featured on Kobo’s writing life about how something as simple as the typography can affect book sales. It was another reminder that the quality of the cover design does matter.

I do realize many designers feel the need to put their mark on their designs. My way of leaving a “signature”, if you will, is creating what I would like to think is high quality work (At least I hope I do!) I set a very high standard for myself since all my creations are a representation of me as an artist, and it is my most important asset when promoting my services. 

So, if I am provided with photography that is of poor resolution or have requests to use a font type that doesn’t translate well for either print, the screen, or display the wrong mood, I will offer up suggestions.

Fortunately, I have not had to do any major changes to a design or experienced anyone disliking my designs so much that I had to start over, and I believe that is due to being able to really narrow the concept down before I begin designing. 

If I propose a concept that the author may not like, I actually look at that as progress and realize that we need to brainstorm in more detail to make sure I really understand their vision. Sometimes there can be too many ideas floating around, and if you try to bring all the elements into the design it doesn’t usually lead to a clear understanding, so I try to help navigate through the maze to achieve a strong, yet simple focus. 

Essentially, I don’t take it personally since it is the concept that is in question and not my ability to design and produce quality work.

MW: Anita, thanks so much for sharing all this great information with us! If you're looking for an awesome cover designer, who'll really get your story, check out Anita at (And don't worry if your story isn't in it's final draft-she did a great job from an unedited version of Faery Marked!) 


  1. Those are some awesome covers, and how awesome that Anita spends to time to read and really get to know the author's vision! I honestly don't think a designer has any business designing without an intimate understanding of the story and it's darkest themes.

    1. Aren't they beautiful?

      I think a cover artist would need to read at least a synopsis of a book to understand what they are designing for. But, by reading the story, you get to see the intimate details and your eye can flash to what needs to be focused on on the page.

      For me, I thought the focus should be on Callie's mark. Anita saw that the real focus should be on Callie- and now, I couldn't agree with her more. She saw the heart of the story and knew what it needed to represent it.

    2. Thank you Crystal *blushing*

      Reading the story is definitely what helps me zero in on the right concept. As a reader, a bit confusing to me is when I read a book and the cover is not representative of the story. Maybe it's because I am a visual designer, but it definitely strikes me as a missed opportunity in order to reach the right reader target audience.

      Mary - Thank you! You were so fun to work with! It was a great TEAM effort all around :-)

  2. This feature was really fun to read. Thank you ladies for giving us such great insight to the behind the scenes. I'm in love with your work, Anita!

    BEST of luck to your wonderful book Faery Marked, Mary. I can't wait to be able to brag about how good it is. Oh, wait...why wait!?! IT'S AWESOME!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Kai. I really enjoyed working with Anita on this.

      And thanks for the kind words. *blushes* I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it and cant' wait for you to see the tweaks that have been made to it!

    2. Kai - Thank you so very much for your kind words and yes for sure FAERY MARKED is a fabulous read! I can't wait for it to be out so I can refer my friends and my friend's kids to read it. I LOVE that my tween can finally read a book that I've designed the cover for. :-)

  3. Oh my goodness Mary you have the nicest followers. This has been such a treat and wonderful experience. Thank you so much for having me!!! You are simply amazing :-)


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