Designing Book Covers – without chips.

I am pretty excited today not only because I am planning to republish my novel, ‘Piggy Monk Square’  but because I am also holding a contest to choose a design. (Click here for reviews.)


I only heard about the contest method a couple of days ago. I was listening to a podcast called ‘The Rocking Self-Publishing  Podcast’ and I heard discussion about 99designs. What they do is they let you hold a contest to find the best design.

You pay an upfront fee to the site and submit your brief. Then designers submit their preliminary ideas for covers, you comment on them, provide constructive feedback, encourage the ones with potential and eliminate those with none. At the end of the process you choose the winning cover and that designer gets the fee.

Piggy-Monk-Square-CoverI know very little about designing book covers and have been struggling with getting a cover for a while. Piggy Monk Square was traditionally published in the UK by Tindal Street Press and I had no say in the choice of cover. I ‘quite liked it’ at the time but I have to admit the cover didn’t jump out at me and I hated what they did with the spine – they added chips!

I felt the chips image was a stereotypical image of Liverpool and insulting. I suggested this to them but the chips stayed and there was nothing I could do about it. Mind you, I managed to keep the Liver Birds from landing – either inside, or outside the book so that was something.

Now, the situation is very different. All the rights have reverted to me and I had the choice of finding another publisher, or throwing myself to the wolves.


I decided life is too short not to take a few risks, and so here I am. I am not a complete novice as I have already self-published a series of children’s stories. These were broadcast on RTE Radio One here in Ireland and when those rights returned to me I adapted them as eBooks.  Those stories were shorter however, and the risk didn’t seem as high as it does with Piggy Monk Square, so I am entering this process with equal amounts  of excitement and trepidation.

I’ll be honest, I knew what I didn’t want in the cover – chips! But I didn’t have a whole lot of ideas about what I did want. I tried getting some initial sketches/ideas from various design sources but none of them ‘jumped out at me’ either.


What did jump out at me was the idea of holding a contest. That way I could see lots of ideas and lots of designs without bankrupting myself paying for tons of preliminary sketches etc.

At the moment I am a couple of days into the contest. I have a couple of weeks to decide and to be honest I am over the moon with the results. The process suits me well, as it giving me much to think about as well as showing me options I had never considered.

What’s also great about this is that you can invite people to watch your contest and they can learn along side you and share their opinions.


At the moment there are a few images emerging that are jumping out. One in particular is really jumping high. But still I can’t decide just yet. I will watch and wait, there are still designs coming in, so it is way too early to be sure. However, one thing I am really sure about is that the cover will not have a single chip!

If you would like to watch the contest live you can see it happening right here on the following link.

Grace Jolliffe’s 99designs Book Contest.

Please – wish me luck!


P.S. Click here to read more about my inspiration about Piggy Monk Square. 

P.P.S. Click here to read reviews.

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