Designing a cover for your book

Our marketing and editorial teams explain how Cambridge Medicine covers are designed, how and when authors and editors should contribute to this process, and what we think makes a particularly good front cover.

What makes a good cover

A good cover design should be relevant to the content of the book, and should be striking and eye-catching, to attract the interest of potential readers. It needs to stand out and be recognisable as a thumbnail on our website and others such as Amazon, so a single, clear image is best with large typography. Covers with pale backgrounds often get lost on websites, so unless there’s a specific reason to have one, it’s worth bearing this in mind.

For many of our books, we prefer to use just one, large, eye-catching image. However, some of our books cover a number of different topics and for these it can be better to use a range of images, to convey the breadth of the book’s content. For example, for some of our radiology books we try to select a few images to convey the range of imaging modalities covered in the book. Sometimes a book is part of a series, in which case the cover may have to conform to a series design which provides a common style or layout for all the covers in that series.

We often try to use an image from the book, if there are several high-quality figures. An alternative to using an image directly related to the book is to use an abstract image – this option is particularly popular for our mental health list. All images must be high quality and at a resolution of at least 300 dpi. If you’re not sure if an image is good enough, your Assistant Editor will be able to check for you. It’s also essential that no image is used without permission from the relevant rights-holder(s).

We’ve selected a few Cambridge Medicine covers below which we particularly like. Do you have any favourite Cambridge Medicine covers, or are there any which you think really don’t work? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


Who designs the cover, and when

For most Cambridge Medicine books, your cover is designed by one of our in-house or freelance designers, shortly before we begin production work on your manuscript. Although the in-house design and marketing teams make the final decision about the cover design, we hope that you will get involved in choosing a cover image and discussing layout and colour schemes.

A couple of months before you are due to submit your manuscript, your Assistant Editor will be in touch to suggest a range of cover images, or to ask you to suggest some images of your own. You will then have the opportunity to choose your preferred image and make any suggestions regarding colours, layout and other details. You should also tell us how you would like your name and affiliation to appear on the cover at this stage, and the final title of your book should be agreed by this point as well. Your Assistant Editor will send you the wording for the back cover copy (or ‘blurb’) and ask you to send any comments or edits you might have. This is your last chance to discuss any major aspects of the cover design, so make sure you tell your Assistant Editor about any requests or preferences.

Your Assistant Editor will then ask the marketing and design teams to approve the chosen cover image(s). They may decide that the image(s) you have chosen are not suitable, for example because the resolution is not high enough. If this happens, they may select an alternative image/design. Usually, however, the image will be approved and a designer will then come up with a few cover mock-ups. These will be discussed and voted on by your editors, marketing staff and designers, and a final cover will be selected – the marketing team make the final decision at this point.

Once your book is in production, your Production Editor will send you a pdf of the front and back covers, so you can see what your cover looks like. You can suggest small changes to the wording of the cover at this stage but major changes to the cover, colour, images and layout cannot be made. You will also be able to see your cover on the catalogue page for your book on our website.

Blog post by Nisha Doshi (Editorial) and Jenny Ridge (Marketing), Cambridge University Press.


2 Responses to Designing a cover for your book

  1. excellent information.

  2. John Middleton says:

    Your book “Best Practice in Labour and Delivery” has a good picture

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