Who Decides Titles and Cover Design?
How much say does an author have in the final decision regarding the title of a book to be published and in the artwork for the cover? And who are the people that come up with the design/photograph for the covers. Does each publisher have a team of people or a department that does this?
Good question. As with many aspects of publishing, there is no set answer. Remember that there are many different publishers and thousands of different situations, and no two are exactly alike. (This applies to many of the questions I get asked, by the way.)
Typically a first-time author without a lot of clout (i.e. they’re not a celebrity or other “hot” property) doesn’t have a contractual right to make final title and cover decisions and doesn’t have final approval of whatever the publisher decides.
However, most publishers do a pretty good job of at least consulting with the author on title and cover design. I’ve seen situations in which the author (even a first timer) and agent have gone back to the publisher with ideas for improving the cover/title, and the publisher has been quite willing to listen to the rationale and make changes. I’ve seen other cases where the publisher has said, “This is what we’re going with and it’s our final decision” even when the author hated the title or the cover, but those situations are less common.
Who decides the title? Usually a group of marketing people along with the editor, or maybe the editorial team.
Who designs the cover? Larger publishers have art departments with multiple designers who work full time designing book covers and ancillary materials. Small and mid-size publishers still usually have art departments, but they often outsource the actual creation of a book cover to a design group—an outside company who specializes in book covers.
Sometimes authors have very strong ideas about the title or cover they want for their book, and sometimes they have these before the book is even written. I want to caution you against holding too tightly to those preconceived notions if you’re pursuing commercial publishing. And definitely avoid sending ideas for cover art along with your query—the time to discuss the cover will be after you have an agent and a publisher.
Q4U: How much thought have you given to your own title and cover? How important is it to you personally? (As opposed to from a marketing standpoint.)
© 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent