How to Put Together a Book Cover


In just nine easy steps!

1. The first step was having an amazing agent who negotiated a contract for us that included “meaningful consultation” on the design of the book. Lucy and I were adamant that we didn’t want a pink cover that featured wedding rings or Manolo Blahniks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t the vibe we were going for. Most authors don’t have any say on what their books will look like, so this was a big deal.

2. Once we started working on the book, I promptly forgot all about the cover. I figured by the time I got through the illustrations, one image would just leap out to us. It would just be obvious, in the way that it is apparent to any person with a beating heart and eyes that Zayn is the best member of 1D. (I mean, look at him. He’s basically Bambi, with terrible tattoos.) [ED NOTE FROM LUCY: SORRY TRAM BUT YOU ARE WRONG, HARRY IS OBVIOUSLY THE BEST, I LOVE HIS FLOWING LOCKS AND HIS STEVIE NICKS WARDROBE.] 

3. When our publisher emailed a few months later and was like, “Hey…about that book cover?” I flew into a panic and immediately forget everything I ever knew about painting. Would a hand turkey be okay? Was a hand turkey representative of the Pen & Palate “brand”? And most importantly, would Lucy ever forgive me for turning in a hand turkey for our book cover?

4. I did not turn in a hand turkey. But I did turn in a few (slightly more appropriate) options for the cover that did not work for various reasons. The whole process is pretty fascinating and there are so many different parties involved, from designers and marketing people, to the actual retailers. The pieces I submitted were fine for the interior, but none of them were quite right for a cover.

5. The publisher came back to us and asked for a new image with the both of us on it. Now, Lucy is a darling dreamboat and I wouldn’t mind looking at her face on a book cover (or just in general), but I have serious issues when it comes to my own self-portraits. I hate having my picture taken, and I may or may not have cried a little during my author photo session with Romeo. (Him: “Stop making faces!” and “Why are you grimacing?” Me: “That’s just my face!” and “Can I have some wine please?”)

6. I procrastinated a while longer, until I figured out a composition I could live with. My mug would be cropped out and Lucy’s face would be covered with a copy of Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, which happened to be one of the inspirations for our blog. There was also a frying pan engulfed in flames, a reference to our many grease fires, literal and metaphorical. I submitted this and the publisher loved it. The in-house graphic designer Lisa Honerkamp did all the actual design work and typesetting and then the cover was done. Success!

7. And then the legal department came back and told us no, we couldn’t reference the Colwin cover. “But…fair usage!!” I cried.

8. So it turns out, watching many episodes of Law and Order: SVU does not mean I am actual lawyer.

9. That’s how we landed on the cover within the cover idea, which I ended up liking even more than the original. It’s kind of funny and a subtle reference to the process of writing a book about your own friendship. (i.e. lots of navel gazing!)

There are probably less circuitous ways to go about this, but I’m just relieved we arrived at a good solution in the end. We can’t wait to show you guys what we’ve been working on all year. The book is the story of our friendship, with 40 delicious recipes and over 50 new illustrations. We’ll have more to share closer to the publication date—May 31, 2016—including sneak peaks and perhaps a recipe or two in the near future. Also, if you’re not following us on Instagram or Twitter already, we occasionally post photos (not just illustrations!) of some of the new dishes we’ve developed for the book.

But, if you’re as excited about this as we are, we’re thrilled to announce that Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is available for pre-order now!

7 Comments Write a comment

  1. I could have provided you with a VERY sophisticated hand turkey, after all it’s my specialty/only drawering skill. xo Nomers.

  2. MB, THANK YOU! We hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks Kelly, we are so excited too! (And also completely terrified!)

    Naomi, GIRL, I know all about your drawerings. They weighed heavily upon me as well, because I knew there was no way I could hang with the master. That’s why my hand turkey is going in the interior of the book…

  3. That’s a gorgeous cover. I’m setting aside some dollar bills for May 31st.

  4. Hi Girls!
    I love your blog!!! I have tried most of the recipes, and they all turned out fabulous!!!!! I love your book cover.. I can’t wait for it to come out!!! I wish that I can get an advanced copy… I wanted to buy it for my birthday as a birthday gift to me… april 24

  5. Cool Book cover! I was searching for something else related to my business, but stumbled upon your book. The title was what caught me! Good Luck on your upcoming release! Cheers!

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