Designer Interview: Hanna James of Killer Covers by Hanna

Hello Hanna! Tell us about your creative journey. What was your path to becoming a book cover designer?
I went to art school, which was the only path I was truly interested in. I stumbled into designing book covers after doing it for a few peers and friends. I’ve since relaunched my business and have been working on my painting and illustration skills.

What part of book cover design do you find most compelling?
The concepting.  Coming up with a pure idea without limitations is the most fun.

Many authors are mystified about how cover designers work. What is your creative approach when taking on a new project?
I check out the genre, read the brief a few times, and go back and forth with the client on brainstorming. Sometimes I might do sketches and thumbnails. Other times I send over Daz renders or possible stock photos. Often the process is about the back and forth with the client, tweaking and revising things, as much as anything.

What makes for a great book cover?
Appealing to readers visually and emotionally. A good cover lets them know what the genre and tropes are, but also lets them project some of their own emotions and ideas into the characters or concept. A reader should be able to see themselves in the book before they’ve even started reading.

What do authors need to know to have the best outcome when working with a professional cover designer?
One thing I see a lot of authors struggle with is communicating with their designer. Many will go to author groups or forums with issues they have with a design before they’ve even spoken to their designer. Trust the process, and the person you’ve hired to lead you through it. We expect revisions and changes to be part of the process. Going to outsiders first often muddies the waters.

Do you have a favorite genre or theme to design for and why is your favorite? 
I love fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal concepts. They give me space to play around with magic and painting.

Do you have any “fur babies” who assist in your design process?
I have two cats and two dogs! Their assistance comes mostly in the form of distractions.

Find more of Hanna’s work here:
https://killercoversbyhanna.com/

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