From Idea to Bookshelf

How is a book developed? Who is involved, and what exactly do they do?

STEP 5: THE COVER DESIGNER (Micaela Alcaino)

STEP 5: THE COVER DESIGNER (Micaela Alcaino)

From Idea to Bookshelf

STEP 5: THE COVER DESIGNER (Micaela Alcaino)

Brief bio 

Micaela Alcaino is a book cover designer and illustrator who relocated from her home in Sydney, Australia to London, UK in 2013. Selected as one of The Booksellers Rising Stars of 2021 she has almost a decade of experience in her field working for both Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, then venturing to freelance in 2018. She currently works on projects in collaboration with most of the big publishing houses worldwide. Some of her recent achievements include winning the Books Are My Bag Beautiful Book Award 2019 for The Binding by Bridget Collins and the ABCD Young Adult Book Cover Award 2021 for Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. Her creative perspective has been shaped by her love of travel, her mixed cultural heritage, and her appreciation of the fine arts.

 Tell us a bit about your job: what does being a book cover designer entail?

I’m a freelance book cover designer and illustrator, so my job entails working with different publishers and a handful of self-published authors to design book covers for a diverse range of projects. So this may include working on a cover using stock imagery, as well as illustrating bespoke illustrations for other covers, and then finding the right typeface for the title and author name so that the text and imagery sit harmoniously together. I collaborate with Editors, art directors, and authors in order to get the best outcome for the book I’m designing for.

Tell us about your work on The Clockwork Girl: how did you create the brilliant design?  

I am always a believer in reading the manuscripts for any book I’m designing for. I think it gives me a better understanding of the tone of voice, characters, and world-building the author is trying to create. I also bought a couple of art books on Versaille architecture and design as well as French decor from the 1700s. I then always just like to play and sketch until I find what I think works. The first set of designs I actually designed worked knocked back, and then eventually the second round of designs helped carve the path to the cover we have today.

Which other books have you worked on recently?

Some of the notable covers I’ve designed for that are coming out this year are Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman, Elektra by Jennifer Saint, Anything Could Happen by Lucy Diamond, Love Me Love Me Not, by Kirsty Capes to name a few.

(You can see lots of Micaela’s incredible designs on her website).

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to work as a cover designer?

The advice I always give is to never limit yourself to just your uni projects. If you want to become a book cover designer make sure you build up personal projects for your portfolio, such as redesigning book covers for your favourite books. I also think having a good understanding of typography is super important. If you can also learn to illustrate that is always a bonus!

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