Quick Guide: Cover Design – First Edition – FAQs


Can I request the use of a specific color for my book cover?

Of course! If the color is a general color preference (red, light blue, orange, etc.), simply include that information in your Marketing Questionnaire or other communications to your cover designer. If the color you’d like incorporate is more specific (pewter, fuchsia, mauve, aquamarine, etc.), please provide your cover designer with a visual example of the color for their reference.

Can I provide photography or request a specific image for use in my book cover?

We use stock photography as foundational material for all Cognella book covers and then professionally adapt the imagery to create a unique and relevant cover design. Using stock photography allows us to use imagery that is readily available to us, is print quality, and does not require complex licensing considerations—as many public or generally sourced images are copyrighted. We also do not have access to photoshoots to create imagery in-house.

If you have a specific image or concept in mind, feel free to send examples and talk through your ideas and what you’d like your cover to convey with your designer. Our designers are resourceful and creative and will work with you to find and create imagery that successfully captures the spirit of your book, even if we are not able to use the exact image you submitted.

Can I use my own cover designer? 

Cognella has experienced graphic designers on staff with extensive experience in academic cover design. They’re also well versed in our brand standards and the level of quality at which we will approve cover art for publication.

We recommend you give our designers a chance to share their cover concepts with you before proceeding with a request to use an external artist. In the case where you do ask to work with your own cover designer, you will be asked to submit a brief application that includes your reasoning for using the artist, the way in which the artist’s work best represents the key themes of your book, and samples of the artist’s work in the style in which it will be used for the cover.

Our internal design committee will review your request and let you know if it is approved. If approved, you are agreeing that the artist will not be given monetary compensation for their cover rendering. Cognella will, however, provide them with a complimentary copy of the book upon its publication and launch.

Even if the artist’s work is not approved for use on your book’s cover, it may be approved for use in your book’s interior to illustrate specific themes or concepts.

Can I request to change my byline display (ex – Edited by, Written by, Written and edited by, etc.)?

The Cognella licensing and permissions team determines the byline type used for your book. If you book contains a certain percentage of previously published material in the form of fully reproduced article, chapters, or readings, or in the form of numerous excerpts, we are legally required to indicate this by using the byline “Edited by” or “Your Name, Editors.”

If your book is right at the threshold and you have written a significant portion of the manuscript yourself, you may be eligible to have your byline listed as “Written and edited by.”

If the majority of your book is original, meaning you’ve written the content specifically for the text, your byline will either feature only the name(s) of the author(s) or “Written by.”

Does my cover art have to be directly related to my book’s content or can it be artwork I really like?

Within the academic publishing market, it is a best practice for textbook covers to directly reflect the key themes or ideas detailed within the book. The primary goal of your textbook cover is to entice potential adopters and provide them with visual clues as to the content of your book. Our cover designers are adept at transforming ideas into innovative cover designs that not only provide potential adopters with immediate understanding as to what the book is about, but represent the key themes and ideas of the book in an attractive, professional way.

Why can’t my cover designer create artwork that exactly matches my vision for the cover? 

There are a number of factors that may affect your cover designer’s ability to create artwork that is an exact match for your ultimate vision for the cover. For example, there may be design limitations on use of the imagery you had in mind, the concept may already be reflected on another textbook in the academic market, or the imagery may not print well on the cover of a book. Rest assured, for your first edition printing, your cover designer will create a cover that is striking, well reflects the content of your book, and is as close to your vision as possible, so please share your ideas and thoughts with them.

Can I include a professional head shot alongside my author biography?

We generally do not include head shots alongside author biographies. A key challenge is print quality, as the photo may not print as expected. Another factor is the licensing of the photo. We may need to seek permission from the individual who was holding the camera and taking your photo, as well as the university if it was a university photographer. We don’t want anything to hold up your book from launching on time, and the inclusion of an author photo could potentially affect your publishing schedule.

When will I see my cover? 

Generally, your cover designer will begin work on your cover when your manuscript is complete and your project moves into the pre-production/production stage. Your designer will reach out to you directly to share concepts and ask about your preferences. You may hear from your cover designer earlier in the publishing process, depending upon your project type.

Can we include endorsements or marketing reviews on the cover of my text?

There are a few key reasons we do not include endorsements or marketing reviews on the cover of your text. Due to physical space constraints for your cover, we like to focus on clean, compelling imagery and fresh title treatment on your front cover, and an insightful book description and an author biography that establishes your professional credibility on the back cover. Additionally, the inclusion of endorsements is largely a practice in the trade market, but it doesn’t cross over into the academic market. Accordingly, including endorsements on your cover might confuse the academic community or potential adopters, as they might mistake your text for a trade book. Often, for academic textbooks, endorsements appear in the form of a foreword written by a distinguished colleague within your field of expertise. Ask your project editor for more information if you’d like to include this type of content within your text.

Reviews and endorsements can absolutely be included online on the title page for your text within the Cognella Title Catalog. Your book’s title page will include a dedicated space for reviews, and our marketing and sales teams may use these endorsements in their marketing and promotional efforts for your text.

Can my cover feature a famous celebrity, artist, or figure from history or pop culture?

Imagery that features a well-known individual—or the work they’ve created (for example, visual artists)—is generally not available for commercial use. Acquiring the correct permissions and licensing for any such imagery can be especially challenging. However, our cover designers have experience in rendering famous figures and characters in artistic ways and envisioning new ways to represent particular people, concepts, and pop culture references.

Here are a few examples of our successful re-imaginings as cover art:

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