An In Depth Book Design

By Maggie McLaughlin


For my project, I will be digitally creating a book jacket cover and bringing it to life with printed versions, photo shoots, and media graphics/campaigns to promote the novel. My mother, Judith Natelli McLaughlin, is a published author of children’s literature, middle grade chapter books, and novels. While many of her books have been designed by outside artists depending on the publishing company she is contracted with, there are a few novels that have yet to be published. My goal is to take my mother’s writing and bring it to life using Adobe Illustrator with her visions and my graphic design skills. Pursuing my love for graphic design while simultaneously working on a project that has so much meaning to me is the perfect idea for a capstone project.

Past Experiences, Audiences, & Inspirations

Previously I have used the Illustrator and InDesign programs to design a book cover for another one of my mom’s novels titled Summer on Butterfly Bay. This project for an advanced design course challenged my vision as a designer yet solidified my appreciation for my favorite designers like Jade Purple Brown and Malika Favre. Using their techniques of minimal, two dimensional designs and pop art meets op-art I was able to create my own style of geometric meets neutral. When creating my sketches for Summer on Butterfly Bay, I was heavily influenced by Favre’s magazines she creates for The New Yorker and Brown’s campaigns for Sephora. These designers really honed in on my target audience I was designing for. The couple in Summer on Butterfly Bay are the both in their thirties, however, their age is less significant than their enemies, to friends to lovers trope, which will appeal to everyone from teens to octogenarians (as will the novel’s mystical octogenarian herself, Tessa, who helps bring them together). This book cover needed to be bright, attractive, and instantly appealing so it could successfully attract an audience on all social media platforms.

Cover for Summer on Butterfly Bay: 

This current project will be a continuation of the same target audience from my previous work, which is romance readers who favor sweet, clean stories. The cover I will design needs to appeal to a vast range of ages, particularly the millenial and Generation X audiences. The first novel I will be working on is titled Top Five, which focuses on the life of Quinn Sheridan, a quasi-social media celebrity who writes a successful blog titled “Top Five.” Quinn is tasked with writing a book proposal, but becomes stuck when hateful comments interfere with her ability to create. Unsurprisingly, her anonymous hater becomes her big love interest named Witt, and from there he battles a secret while trying to balance a relationship with Quinn. The aim for this cover is a social media based interactive design like a list, blog or Instagram type of format.


In continuation of the physical book jacket cover, I discussed ways to further my scope of this project with my former professor Dr. Rachael Sullivan. As my mentor for my previous graphic design projects, she was able to understand my vision and gave advice as to how to make this project more professional and advanced. The idea for this project would be to fully design the book jacket cover using the Adobe softwares and physically print it out using proper dimensions. From there, I would showcase the design on a hardcover book and have a photoshoot. I want people to really visualize the novel and real life and hold an example in their hands. The photo shoot would be an excellent way to widen the scope of this project and present it as almost a mock “book launch.” From there, I would continue designs for social media graphics, bookmark designs, and mock info graphics for people to learn about the novel. Below are graphics from novels/authors I have loved which have inspired me for my designs. I love the use of the front cover designs which are uniform throughout the book’s publicity and marketing.



Research for this project will include studying the covers, both e-book and paperback of romance novels with a twist of reality, like Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, Beach Read by Emily Henry, and Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner. Attached is my Pinterest board of book cover inspiration which gave me the idea for this project in the first place. Like my mother, I love writing and have a passion for putting pen to paper. I could picture myself working for a publishing company while simultaneously doing graphic design for various authors or novels. I think having a specific field of graphic design in mind will help me in my career path. A capstone dedicated to graphic design is the perfect addition to my portfolio of my communications projects throughout the years.




Possible Obstacles 

My concerns for this project are the time constraints that it takes to complete my design on Illustrator. My previous graphic design for Summer on Butterfly Bay only featured a front cover because of the three week timeline I had to complete the project. The sketching and rough drafts were probably the most frustrating because I would spend so much time perfecting a design and decided to scrap it all together. I don’t want to waste my time using the software so I want to have really solid sketches of the design first. Additionally, my other concern would be physically printing the cover with the proper dimensions of a book because I have never done that before. The photoshoot and marketing graphic portions of the project should not pose any problems because I am familiar with taking photos and designing advertisements for other courses.

A Rough Timeline

Weeks of Feb 14th and Feb 21st: conducting sketches in sketch book and reviewing ideas with my mom about what she definitely wants featured.
Week of Feb 28th: Narrow down design idea to begin creating shapes and designs on Illustrator
Weeks of March 7th and March 14th: using the main focal points of the designs I have created, continue working on a cohesive cover.
Weeks of March 21st and March 28th: Design back of cover and inside flaps including quotes, synopsis, and a headshot
Week of April 4th: find out how to actually print the jacket cover (Is that something that can be done on campus, in Staples, etc.)
Week of April 11th: Photoshoot and in-depth documentation of the cover in person.
Weeks of April 18th: Complete final social media graphics that could be appropriately used on any platform.
Week of April 25th: present final project?