The Cover Design and Process


When I started on my publishing journey back in 2018, I commissioned an artist to design the cover for my book. The work was gorgeous and phenomenal, but I knew in my gut it wasn’t the cover.

I worked as a graphic designer for five years, and I had an idea in my head of what my cover looked like, but for some reason it was impossible for me to execute it myself. I thought getting another artist to do it would be the best scenario, but the artwork just didn’t match the image in my head and it was too hard to verbalize what I was visualizing.

For a year, I took a break from worrying about the cover, but suddenly I was deep in the self-publishing process and it was clear I was going to need a cover soon. I didn’t know what to do because I know a lot of people advise self-publishers to get someone else to design their cover. But I had so much experience and knowledge in graphic design, it was bothering me that I could not get past my mental roadblock and just do it myself.

Back in February, I began brainstorming the interior design of my book. I found a beautiful picture of bird feathers and I put a color overlay on it with some text. It turned out to be so stunning that I would start out each day by looking at it. Finally, I found the courage to show it to my family, and they all knew I was on track to designing my cover.


This new design was my foundation and I used it to mock up tons of different designs. In each one, I changed around the fonts, colors, and layouts. The process took about two months, but I eventually decided on the cover that you all see today.


The feathers were my foundation because they were the best way to hint at the angels, and the fact that they are white and black portrays both sides depicted in the story. The fleur-de-lis symbolism is significant on many levels, some that might not even be completely apparent in Book One, which is why it is figured so prominently on the cover. For me, I had to include the wings because it was the final way to connect the cover to the story. As for the choice of color, I originally was planning on using more blue accents since to me it would represent Heaven best, but in all the mock-ups where I used gold, my eye was being drawn to those more. So, I changed direction and it paid off because the color is truly what makes it so eye catching.

Looking to the future, I don’t think I’ll design every cover of my books, but as far as The Empyrean Trilogy goes, I will definitely be my own cover designer.

© SARA M SCHALLER. All Rights Reserved.