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So, You Want to Write a Book: Part IV – Book Cover Essentials

The book cover design is such an integral part of the book writing process. It’s the first thing readers see while they’re scrolling their computer screens or browsing book aisles. You want to create something eye catching, but at the same time you want the cover to express everything your book stands for.

The title and design should encompass your story line and grab the reader making them say, “I need to read this!” But, how do you take thousands of words, hours of typing and months of hard work and put it into one cover, a small blurb and title? Welcome to part iv of the blog series!

So, You Want to Write a Book: Part IV

This blog is going to be a bit different than the last few. In today’s write up I’m talking through my own experience with how I came up with all of the above in each of my novels in hopes it will provide you with some guidelines and inspiration.


 Tear Stained Beaches

The Title

This was my debut novel. I wanted it to make a grand entrance. Tear Stained Beaches is an emotional roller coaster. It tugs at the heart strings. There are moments where you want to scream and then cry and launch the book across the room. I wanted the title to reflect that. I went through a list of many, but the one scene that stuck out most was where Haylie finally succumbed to everything going on in this story. The moment where she falls to her knees on the sand as her world crumbles around her and I knew the title had to be Tear Stained Beaches.

I had the title, so it was time to hire a book cover designer to digitally draw out the scene I had in my head. The finished product was a girl sitting on the beach with the waves soaking the ends of a white dress.  It was exactly what I had asked for, but as I sat staring at it, my heart knew that the allure of what this book was all about wasn’t there. The photo was too happy, too colorful and I didn’t feel as if the right emotions were flowing from it. That is when I turned to my brother, a talented artist and designer who saved it all.

The Book Cover

I was back at square one wondering what I was looking for. Him and I discussed much of what the book was about, and he started pulling photos – heavy waves crashing against rocks on the shoreline, a never-ending horizon and an empty beach where happiness was amiss.

They were simple, yet powerful. They said everything I wanted the cover to say. 6 years later I and that cover is still as powerful as the day I hit publish with heavy waves crashing down on Haylie’s future. The never-ending horizon symbolizing her heartache and an empty beach that shows the solitude and emptiness one woman feels throughout the novel.

This was where I learned that simple truth was all I needed and it reflects in everything I’ve done going forward.


 Holding on to Georgia

The Title

I’ve obsessed over this title since the day I settled on it and I fall in love with it more every day. Below are some of my original title picks:

·        Then you came around

·        Letting Go of Yesterday

·        Open Up Your Heart to Me

·        Yesterday’s Gone

I don’t hate them, but compared to Holding on to Georgia none of these give me chills and I owe it all to my book blurb for helping me come up with the title.

There I was, sometime after midnight alone in my office trying to recap 50,000 words into a 100-word book blurb. As I began writing, I saw the struggle. The struggle from Rylan who had finally let her walls down for a man who wasn’t ready. Should she fight for him and make him see what was standing in front of him or should she let him go?

Then there was Kade, born and raised in Georgia, so desperately wanting to let go of a past he never thought he’d have to leave behind. His heart was constantly playing tug-a-war between the feelings that he had for Rylan and his vows to a life that would never be.

You see, both of them, whether they knew or not, were holding on to something – one thing. They were holding on to Georgia. Rylan in the man who mysteriously appeared in her Carolina apartment building and Kade in the life he thought he left behind once he crossed over that state line.

The Cover

My brother nailed the cover design on this one too! Photographs are a large part of the struggles in this novel. Rylan carries one in her purse as a reminder of her heartache as does Kade so he won’t forget what he no longer has.

That swing, once you grab your copy of HOTG, you’ll see is also a huge part of Kade’s memories throughout the story.

I LOVE the fact that my brother pulled the photo of the swing and turned it into a Polaroid picture floating on the cover. It truly captures every essence of this story!


Behind the Strings

The Title

Behind the Strings was so close to being Six Strings and Sunday Mornings. Once again, it was writing out the book blurb that changed my mind.

“In the heart of Music City, Celia and Logan will be forced to relive the remnants of a relationship they thought would never be. And just when they think they have what it takes to put all the pieces back together, one night could tear it all apart. Secrets will be revealed, loyalties will be tested and both will be left to decide if what they really want, is worth what they’ll lose in the process.”

This is a story about the music scene in Nashville, inspired by real life experiences. It’s a fabricated look at what goes on behind the scenes. It wasn’t about the guitars or waking up the morning after, it was about everything in between. Everything that gets you up on that stage and everything that happens once you step off. It truly is a story of life behind the strings.

The cover

I took a risk with this cover. I wanted to try something different and original. So, I hired a photographer, borrowed a guitar and spent the day doing a photo shoot. This photo wasn’t the original thought I had going into the shoot, but at this point I bet you’re not surprised.

This photo was taken about an hour in after everything I said I wanted had been shot. It was impromptu. My photographer said, “let’s try something else,” and so we did.

This novel is about music, the bright lights of fame, relationships and love and how they all intertwine in the life of a girl in the middle of it all.

And can we talk about how my brother created the title on the bottom replicating sheet music. I think it tied it all in perfectly. Seriously, he’s the best!


There you have it, making all of my book covers come to life. I hope it was helpful as you begin your writing journey! This blog series has been so much fun. I can’t believe that next week is the final chapter. Next week we will be putting it all together as we talk formatting and publishing!

 Read more from Courtney here