Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rajdeep Paulus: The Journey of a Book Cover

original hand drawn art

Let’s be honest. Whoever came up with the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” was reading in the dark. Or listening to an audiobook. Or got a great, hand-me-down book that had the cover ripped off. Because, before an author’s name is connected to incredible story telling, the cover is all a reader has to go by. And ask most readers—the cover determines whether they will pick up the book. Read the back. And open the book and read the first few lines. Each step leads to the ultimate decision to invest in the story, but the very first step often rests with the invitation of the cover.

In the final stages of cover decision-making, I had a cover crisis. The artwork was so engaging that the title sort of got lost in it. But when I tried to fix it, rather than let the artist make her professional changes, I overcompensated and pushed the details off the page, literally. With only days till the book when live on Amazon, Deepa coached me in some Photoshop basics, and I think we found our perfectly balanced cover: Stars. Blue. Clouds below. And the Post-it on back.

When I finished the first draft of Soaring Through Stars, I began to think about my cover. And without a second thought, I knew I wanted my niece and SVA college student, Deepa Paulus, to design it. The only boundaries I gave her were to make sure the cover had stars on the front, a Post-it Note on the back, and the color blue for Talia. The rest was up to her.

I’m not an artist, but I can only imagine how long it took for her to create a starry sky brimmed by clouds with her pen and pencil on paper. When she showed me an early draft of the hand-drawn cover, I loved it! But I also knew right away: more stars, less clouds.

Once the background was finalized, Deepa went to work with her Photoshop skills, adding blues, sparkling up stars, and matching the fonts from the other two books in the trilogy to help link the books. We had some back and forth about the shades of blue and eventually agreed on a darker but brighter blue that helped the font to stand out and suggest evening, rather than the black sky of nighttime.
Cover design stages Pt. 1

I asked Deepa a few questions about her experience, and this is what she shared:

Rajdeep: What did you enjoy about the process?

Deepa: What I enjoyed most about working on the cover of Soaring Through Stars was that I got to work very closely with my aunt.  Rajdeep Chithi [Aunt] was so much fun to work with and I learned a lot about graphic design.  In addition, I enjoyed the mix of traditional and digital media.  It started with pen and ink and went through Photoshop, so I got to use my two favorite mediums to create this cover.

Rajdeep: What were some of the challenges you faced?

Deepa: The main challenge that came with making this cover was definitely layout.  There are just so many ways of placing information on a page that it can be quite tricky figuring out what works best.  Getting feedback definitely makes the process easier than doing it all alone.

Rajdeep: What would you change about the process when you start your next book cover for some lucky author out there? 

Deepa: I would not really change much about the process.  Keeping my files organized definitely helped when changes had to be made, so I would continue working the way I did.

Interim cover design
Not every author gets a say in how his or her cover will turn out. I’ve had the opportunity to give feedback on all my covers so far. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe a book cover is worth sixty-five thousand—the average length of each young adult book I wrote. 
Grateful for a chance to work with an up and coming artist and digital wiz, thank you Deepa for working so hard on my book cover. I’m thrilled to push book three out of the nest and send her a flight. And I hope the story will take readers Soaring Through Stars. J


Rajdeep Paulus, Award-Winning author of Swimming Through CloudsSeeing Through Stones, and Soaring Through Stars, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her  via Facebook, TwitterPinterest, or Instagram.

Chicago born Deepa Paulus majored in Visual Arts at LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts (Class of 2014). She designed the logo for Cycling for Change (,) the cover of the YA Novel Soaring Through Stars, and looks forward to graduating Class of 2018 from SVA as a Computer Art Major. Learn more at

Final cover


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