SNE: Choosing a Cover Recipe

A few notes on choosing the cover for my next book, Super Natural Every Day.

SNE: Choosing a Cover

I thought I might loop you all back into the realm of Super Natural Every Day, to share a bit more of the play-by-play that goes into the making of a cookbook like this one. In case you missed previous (related) entries, I wrote this to kick off the series, then this one about how I approach the manuscript. Today I thought I'd share a bit about choosing a cover. It looks like we have a cover design that (fingers-crossed!) I hope you like as much as I do, and I'm excited to share some of the thoughts that went into it. Here it is:

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

I should start by saying, the path from having an idea for a book to holding the book in your hands is (in many cases) long and surprisingly non-linear. For example, I'm deep into the manuscript and photography for Super Natural Every Day, but not finished. At the same time, we're deciding on a cover. The cover seems to be one of the first things that needs to be nailed down. It appears in all sorts of places long before the book goes to the printer - for example, the publisher's catalog, on the pages of online book stores (for pre-orders), etc. It's the face of the book, and if done well, should set the tone for what you'll find inside.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I feel very fortunate to be working with Toni Tajima at Ten Speed Press on the book design for Super Natural Every Day. Toni was my designer on Super Natural Cooking, and having her on that project was a stroke of good fortune I'll forever be grateful for. Being able to work on the follow-up with her? I've been out-of-my-mind excited about it. Toni heads up the design on the entire book - cover, interior, fonts, spreads - the whole nine.

So, let's talk about the function of a cover. They're quite complicated. Practically speaking, they have jobs to do. They need to communicate the premise of the book. They can set the aesthetic tone for the pages to follow. They need to look good life-sized, and as thumbnail icons. In my case, this cover had to differentiate itself from the last book at a glance, yet look related. As far as working with your publisher goes, you want to have buy-in from the people in the departments who support your book as well - the list is long (and important), and includes sales people, marketing people, as well as editorial. It's a collaboration, and the trick is creating and choosing something you love that doesn't fall into the design-by-committee trap.

Toni did a bunch of different mock-ups for this cover, and I fell for the one up above the minute she display it on her screen. All the other stuff aside, it felt right to me, hit the right tone. It's pretty, feminine, quiet with a couple understated flourishes. I liked the restrained color palette, and the font treatments. It has the dahlias I love to visit in Golden Gate Park in late summer, and one of my favorite recipes from the book pictured (a special potato salad). It's the kind of book I would pick up at a glance. This was one of the last comps she shared with us after sending other versions in the previous weeks. There were six or seven of us huddled around her desk when she showed it, and everyone seemed to light up.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Here are a couple earlier versions (above) - two alternate favorites of mine. I like the softness of both, and again, the limited color palette. I'm not much of a shouter, part of the reason I think these quieter covers resonate with me.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

As I mentioned up above, we talked a lot about how Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day should look different, yet related. One thing that will help, in addition to the actual cover design, is the trim size of the actual book. The new book will be the same as SNC, but with more pages. It'll be thicker. But if all goes well, you'll be able to tell they're sister titles.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

And here we have a couple more me-centric (and, I'd argue, more commercial) covers. I think everyone agreed they're too close to the SNC cover. Also, while I might be on the covers here, they didn't really feel like me, if that makes any sense. Let's just say, I'm happy to make my exit from the cover to relax on a few of the inside pages ;)....

So, that's where things stand on the book front. I'm sure it won't be long before I'm able to share some spreads with you, or a glimpse at the recipe pages, or any other aspect of the creative process you might be interested in. We're working toward sending it to the printer this November(!)...which seems so far off, but really isn't. And lastly, I know some of you feel short-changed when I don't have a recipe to share, so I went back into the archives and cherry-picked two favorites to remind you of - I hope that will hold you over for a few days. xo -h

This Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad is one of my favorites: Warm, coin-shaped slices of pan-fried carrots, white alubia beans, and chopped dill tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing. And it has been some time since I posted a sandwich, maybe because none are as good as this TLT, if cherry tomatoes have started turning up in your markets, give it a go.

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Ooh I think they're lovely and agree with you about the muted palette. Great work! Can't wait to add it to my collection.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

love the insight you're giving us! i wasn't reading blogs much when your first book came out, so this is extra fun! i really like the top picture; it's muted, but snazzy , if that makes sense. i also like the bottom right pic with the bolder colors. can wait for more updates!

heather @ chiknpastry

Heidi that's wonderful!thank you for sharing this with us! i agree with you and love your first choice for the cover of Super Natural Everyday although all the other options are also very beautiful. more direct approach and a little different from your previuos book cover. good luck to you all!can't wait to buy a copy. best, P*


That cover is awesome, can't wait to get my copy. Greetings from Finland too :)


Absolutely beautiful! I'm so excited for your new book! I made your Otsu from SNC last night for the 10th time--it hit the spot. I hope to one day be in your shoes, picking out the cover of my cookbook, taking photos, etc. I feel like I have a good idea for a cookbook but I don't know where to start. I really enjoy these updates!


Just lovely! I am so looking forward to this! I have made the TLT numerous times and it is a favorite. Will try the carrot salad!


although i do truly truly love the apron strings, your instincts were totally correct. on a torrentially rainy day such as this, your site always makes my soul much sunnier!

af @ .the food.

Right choice. Definitely. In print, a book with that lovely plate of food on the cover is something I'd probably buy on impulse (not sure the web quite does it justice). But does anyone else think that the 'from' in italics does not seem quite right somehow? Just love the plums, if the back cover is still undecided.


LOVE it!! looks appetizing, friendly, soft & genuine, one just wants to reach out & sift thru the pages contentedly...frankly, i really can't wait for SNE to come out in print and be holding it in my happy hands! thanks so much for sharing the whole process with us, its rather fascinating - to me, at least... keep on with the super creativity! cheers!


Love these covers, and the one you chose. Although, I must admit, I love the apron tie on the second option. I can't wait until it's finally in print! Warmest wishes from my Madrid kitchen :)

Katharine @ agirlinmadrid

i´m very excited for you and looking forward to my own copy. i like the cover with the apron best...


Can't wait to see the finished product! Hope it's gonna be available in Melbourne, Australia not too long after it's out in the States. =) I suppose I can rely on Borders...


I can't wait for this one. My favorite cover is the one where you are walking in a field. Thanks for sharing!

Sweet Faery

What a beautiful choice of cover! As a library student I look at a lot of books and just wanted to add that I look forward to seeing a final product that easily sits open on the counter and is easy to read (no fancy fonts, please).


I love the version on the top most - if I didn't know you, I would definitely buy the book by its cover alone. as it is though, there's an empty space the size of super natural every day in my cook book shelf right next to super natural cooking. (glad to hear it got the same style and size) keep us updated, pls!

Babs @gleefulfood

dear heidi, so i've visited your site many times over the past few years and recently, while ending my law school student days, and beginning my bar study experience, decided to remove the new york times as my home page and make your blog the first thing i see when i open up my computer world. i've been beyond inspired (and satisfied with my decision to change the kind and quality of info i take in) and made the pappardelle with asparagus (lightened the butter and doubled the greens) for my family on friday night of my graduation weekend-what a hit! we served it with oven roasted halibut (with olive oil, capers, golden tomatoes, shallots, garlic and basil) and a bottle of pinot grigio-molto buono! tonight i decided to make the rosemary cakes and doubled the recipe, went along for the ride with the ap flour (contemplated using oat instead but decided would be too gummy.) they are beautiful, flavourful, airy, chocolaty goodness. thank you for your time and for your words, photos and recipes. i truly look forward to seeing how the book continues to develop. you've got a genuine fan in texas. if you ever roll through houston mi casa es tu casa para comer y disfrutar la vida!


i do love the first cover--simple, and a promise of the delicious meals to come from such a beautiful, uncompromised collection


The one you chose is my favorite. Simple, elegant and beautiful colors. Nicely done. Congrats!

the French

All these covers looks great. It must have been very hard to choose.

Mark @ Cafe Campana

Fabulous! Loved it on first sight! Best of the bunch -- well designed and chosen.


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