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Interview Series: GBG’s Design Department

September 16, 2014

Thinking about publishing your book? No matter where you are in the process, it is important to ask questions. I went ahead and asked them for you! In this series, I will be visiting with each department at Greenleaf asking some of the frequently asked questions.

To kick things off, I’ll start with Greenleaf’s talented design team.

  1. What are the components and/or considerations that go into designing the cover? 

The purpose of the cover design is to create a package for the book that encapsulates the content accurately, is sellable and genre-appropriate, and is aesthetically beautiful. The title must be legible from a few feet away so that it grabs attention from bookstore shelves. Balance, color, good typography, and a hierarchal structure of elements are essential to a successful cover design.

  1. How does the design process work at Greenleaf?

Greenleaf has a uniquely collaborative process for designing covers.

Our authors have the opportunity to convey their vision for their book directly to the design team. Our designers also familiarize themselves with the unique content, and review comp titles to confirm the competition and genre. We work up many designs and narrow them down to the top 3–4 covers. Those designs are reviewed by our Editorial and Distribution teams to determine if the designs reflect the content, are genre-appropriate, and are sellable and competitive.  Once our internal teams have given their approval, the designs are presented to the author.

We believe there is more than one solution for every book cover, and therefore provide options for the author, who knows the content best. We rely on the author to choose the cover that feels right for their project from a group of designed and vetted covers.

  1. How does a designer decide on a theme for the book cover?

Designing a cover is a lot of work—and a lot of fun. The theme for the cover is decided based on author input, tone and message of the content, and target audience. Concepting is rigorous, and we often create multiple rounds in-house before we share the winning designs. The process includes image research, typography experiments, critiques, and refinement. Rather than sketches, we present almost-finished comps to our authors, so there is no question at that point if the theme can be executed well.

  1. What goes into the design of the 'interior layout’?

The interior page design of a book should be a continuation of the cover. The text composition should guide the reader easily through the content.

At Greenleaf, interior layout begins with a page design composite, developed using sample copy from our Editorial team. The sample copy includes examples of all the different elements of the book—front matter, chapter titles, body copy, headlines, bulleted lists, and boxed text, among other elements. The designer builds on the basic look and feel of the finished cover design and translates it to the interior pages. Similar fonts and elements from the cover are often incorporated. We adhere to industry standards for margins, spacing, and best practices in composition and typography.

  1. How long does it take to design a book cover?

A timeline for the creative process is hard to predict. Sometimes the right concept is—Bam!—immediately apparent, and sometimes we struggle to uncover it. Other delays can occur when specifications change, such as a subtitle, genre placement, or trim size. We usually spend about two weeks on a round of comps for a cover.

  1. What are Greenleaf’s favorite types of covers to design? (i.e. genre)

Greenleaf’s design team is unique in that we are well versed in genres across the bookshelf. Our designers have amazing range, from business to fiction to full-color cookbooks. We love the variety of projects we produce—it keeps our work fresh. We can be more aesthetically creative with fiction titles, but stretch our brains with concepting for business books.

Our favorite type of cover to design is one in which the author is passionate about their project, and open to our ideas and expertise. Translating that passion into a finished design is very rewarding.

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Make Your Press Release Pack a Punch

September 9, 2014

Launching your publicity campaign can be a daunting task that’s best left to professionals, but sometimes you need to take the bull by the horns yourself. You've spent years writing your masterpiece, and now you're faced with writing a killer press release that gets the media's attention. Here are a few tips for writing your press release: 

  • The most important piece of a press release is the headline, so make sure it packs a punch! Look for news, current events, holidays, comparable movie or book titles, and attention-catching happenings that you can tie your book to. 
  • Be creative (but on topic), and try to send out a new release every 4 to 6 weeks. 
  • Make it newsworthy, objective, and accurate.
  • In the body of the release include the most important information (who, what, where, when, why, how) in the first two paragraphs and the least important information at the bottom, in the "inverted pyramid" style.
  • Explain the relevance and benefit of your book to the intended audience.
  • Make sure the release isn't self-centered and does not sound like a sales pitch--it should read like a newspaper or magazine story. 
  • For increased visibility, use relevant keywords and terms that the search engines will latch on to.
  • List your book's bibliographic data (ISBN, pub date, price, page count, etc.) and display the cover image. 
  • Be sure to include your contact information for people who want more information or an interview.

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Happy Pub Day!

September 2, 2014

All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in September!


Death at a Distance by Mark Nystuen


The Time Bandit Solution by Edward Brown


The CEO Tightrope by Joel Trammell


The Life and Times of Jamie Lee Coleman by Michael E. Glasscock, III


Rising to Power by Ron Carucci


Everybody Paddles (3rd Edition) by Charles Archer


The Leadership Equation by Eric Douglas


Baby Santa and the Gift of Giving by M. Maitland DeLand, M.D.


Parenting 2.0 by Tricia Ferrara


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The Importance of a Pub Date

August 26, 2014

When your book publishes can be just as important as what you're publishing. The date you  and/or your publisher chooses to release the book is an integral part of your marketing plan. If you're afforded the luxury of choosing or influencing your publication date, here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  • Bookstore buyers want (and need) to know about a book six to eight (or more) months before publication. That means if you want your book in stores for the holiday season, you need to be ready with your PR and marketing plan no later than April. Then, you'll need to make sure you have books in hand by October so they make it through the retail pipeline and into stores before Thanksgiving. 


  • What are your competitors doing? Do you have speaking engagements planned? Are there yearly industry conferences or trade shows you need to be prepared for? Those dates are important so make sure you have books well in advance of any deadlines.


  • Self-help and dieting books do best between the winter holiday and summer swimsuit season. New year, new you!


  • Think outside the box. Is the industry expectation for your genre to publish in a specific month? You may want to try a few months earlier (in conjunction with a strong marketing and PR plan) and generate buzz by beating others to the punch!


  • Cookbooks are hot year-round, but there are seasonal trends. Cookbooks with an entertaining spin do best around major holidays, BBQ and salads in summer months, and baking in fall and winter. Know when and were to look for evergreen marketing opportunities for your book.


And maybe most importantly, don't rush for the sake of rushing! When will you be best prepared to bring quality content with a well-planned marketing and publicity strategy to market? That’s when you should publish your book.



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How to Score a Pick-Up: 4 Ways to Select a Strong Book Cover

August 19, 2014



The cover of a book is arguably the strongest marketing tool at an author’s disposal. It is the element of a book that is most likely to get a reader to stop, look again, and pick up the book.

The cover is a chance for the author to convey the ideas found within the pages in one fell swoop. And I emphasize the word swoop, as readers that are walking past a bookstore shelf or scrolling through online search results are not spending time studying your cover – they are glancing at it. And a few seconds are all you get to grab their attention.

 It is not enough for a cover to be beautiful – it must also be marketable. An author should think about several aspects when determining the best cover for their book – target audience, name recognition, branding – but the best way to start is by asking four important questions:


Is the imagery engaging?

Photos, illustrations, and even type-driven designs can be used to create an image on a cover that is meant to hook the reader. The key here is to focus not on the aesthetics, but on the engagement. This means that when a reader looks at your cover, they are drawn in. They become curious. They want to know what is happening inside.

An example is Aberrations by Penelope Przekop – a fiction title about a woman’s hidden past. The cover makes use of gorgeous colors, but there are two things that make it stand out: the rose is blue, a color that does not exist in nature, and below the rose you see, not another flower, but red curls of hair.

The word Aberrations means something that departs from the expected, and this cover certainly does. It makes a reader wonder what is going on. Why is that rose blue? Whose hair is that? Why is it slightly tangled? What happened to her? The reader is intrigued by the cover – and then they pick it up.



Is the imagery distinctive?

Certain genres of books have certain consistent design elements. However, on a crowded shelf, it greatly helps if your book cover stands out as unique.

The book Reversing The Senses by Martin Hubbard is a business title that teaches readers to access their internal resources in order to achieve success. Within the business genre, however, the cover is unconventional due to the colorful graphic of the mirrored faces. This striking image catches your eye and makes a reader pause for a moment and consider that the insights in the book might be as exceptional as the packaging. And then they pick it up.



Does the text pop?

The text on the cover is also an essential element to consider. A good rule to follow is to place the cover a few feet away and see if you can easily read the text. Are the letters large enough? Is there enough contrast? Does the text appear on a part of the cover that is not too busy with other images? The title should pop! And a reader should be able to read it at a glance.

Playing with text can also be a way to increase engagement. For example, About Jenga by Leslie Scott is a business/history title about the entrepreneurism behind the game of Jenga. The bold white text on the solid black background makes the title highly visible, but by placing the subtitle in a smaller font on top of a graphic element, it encourages a reader to look a little closer to discover what the book is all about. And then they pick it up.



Does the cover accurately reflect the content?

A final, and very important, element to consider is the connection between the cover and the content of the book. It is vital that once the reader is hooked, and they pick up your book, the actual topic is what they are expecting and looking for. If you attract the wrong audience for your book with a flashy cover that doesn’t truly reflect your work, you’ll end up with a lot of disappointed readers. Keep the cover true to your content and you can’t go wrong.

To receive more great publishing insights every month, be sure to sign up for the Greenleaf email newsletter. Happy reading!

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