Cover Interview: Author Emma Michaels on Designing Book Covers

Emma Michaels Links: Blog / Goodreads / Amazon / Twitter

OUaT: Welcome Emma to the site. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. Tell us first what is the most difficult process of designing a book cover?

Emma: Thank you for having me! I think the most difficult part of the process really depends on the person. For me it is finding that original stroke of inspiration. Once I get it, the rest comes naturally but I really have to let a novel be all consuming when I read it to get a lot of the ideas I end up using. I normally end up with too many ideas and then have to weed through them for the right one(s).

OUaT: How much say or opinion do you get from the authors?

Emma: Part of what I love about working with publishers that are more personal is that authors get a lot more input. The other day I was asked why I decided to start doing cover art and I hadn’t really thought about it until then. I answered honestly but my answer surprised me. “I decided to do cover art because I wanted to be able to give authors that dream cover they never thought they would get to have.” So many authors at conventions, signings or larger events like BEA and ALA had told me in normal conversation how disappointed they had been or the dream cover that had always imagined and one day I sat down and tried to make my own dream cover. I managed to do exactly what was in my mind and it made me wonder if I could do that for others. Once I realized I might be able to help authors and reader be more passionate about wonderful books I decided to keep going with it!

OUaT: What programs or web site do you use to make the book covers?

Emma: This is a question that I have even had other artists ask me but the full answer is a bit complicated because I use so many websites and programs. I am always trying new things. Alot of the projects have different needs. I use GIMP and now that I just got a tablet I have been using ProCreate too. But when it comes to resources, I have too many sources to list. I am constantly on the lookout for new tools and amazing stock and if I can’t find what I need then I find a way to create it.

OUaT: Have you come across any covers that look similar or the same to ones you have designed?

Emma: To be perfectly honest, I don’t really think about it. I come across covers that have color tones I love and want to try out or covers that inspire to want to be an even better artist but I have a tendency to let a cover slip from my memory after I create it so that I never reuse the idea accidentally or feel like I only have certain things I can accomplish. I find that if I look at a cover as a world of possibilities I am more likely to create something edgier and unlike my previous works.

OUaT: What do you enjoy the most about designing the covers for the authors?

Emma: Feedback and exploration. I love trying new things and getting to hear that an author has a cover they can be proud of. I know not all of my covers will be perfect but when I hear that it is a cover the author loves it is always something that lifts my spirits and makes me want to do even more.

OUaT: Can you share with us today 3 of your most favorite covers that you have designed?

Emma: This is a hard one because I have just started training myself in a few new programs with my tablet and now have a LOT of sample covers I am currently working on and loving. From the currently published novels I would have to say that Until Next Time by Amy Lignor is my number one favorite, then Night Sky by Jolene Perry which was a project I did in collaboration with another artist is another one and then one of the latest Tribute novels The Color of Snow was one that was conceptually a lot of fun to work with.

OUaT: What advice can you give other designers or even authors about book covers?

Emma: For authors who are asked for concepts that would like or ideas they have imagined I would say, feel free to dream big. I know most authors don’t get to but you deserve to have a cover you can honestly believe in and that makes you proud to show off your novel to anyone and everyone. To designers, I know it is hard to take so much time on a piece that has a fate completely separate from you but never be afraid to always put your best work into it, after all, if you don’t put your heart into it then you are the one stunting your own growth.

OUaT: What are your favorite types of covers you like to designed?

Emma: All of them. I love when an author has ideas, a lot of time it can give me insight into how they imagine their cover so that I can either give them what they want or even expand upon the idea but with genres I am open to anything, though admittedly, like with my writing, I have a soft spot for YA novels.

OUaT: If you were a book cover, how would you look?

Emma: Edgy, multi-faceted and too complex to be a good cover. I made a better artist and author, I think they are the two professions I enjoy where being both overly organized and too imaginative for my own good come in handy. I guess if I actually imagine the cover though, I can’t help but think of different things I enjoy like the wind in my hair, colder temperatures and there would probably be pieces of paper flying in the wind to symbolize the way I am always surrounded by ideas so who knows. Maybe one day I will experiment and find out. :p

Thank you so much for having me here! I had a blast answering your questions and hope everyone loves the amazing novels Tribute Books has been releasing, I know I have been!

The Writers Voice:
Personal Blog:
Cover art portfolio:

Here are examples of Emma's work:


  1. I like the covers you shared. Its so important to find that "original edge" and the advice to "dream big", well its the best advice! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yara, thanks for featuring Emma on your blog. We absolutely love working with her. She is the best.


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