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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I love the cover that you selected, it's very inviting. I have to ask-what dish is that in the photo at the very bottom on the right? I see what looks to be black or red rice, feta cheese, maybe walnuts and something red. Tomatoes? Fruit? It looks great!


i love the cover! but i am also a book designer and the italicized 'from' is weird. usually italics conveys emphasis– it makes the tag a strange read. and would you ever put something about the recipes being vegetarian on the cover? i also thought the pink stuff might be ham. ;)


I can't wait to see what cover you choose. For pictures of you, find ones that 'feel' like you. It is so odd to meet someone who's personality doesn't match their picture. If you think it looks like you, it probably matches your personality.

isa b

The cover looks great - can't wait for the book(and everything inside!).

Carol Story

Very nice choice, but I too think the italicized "from" looks and sounds strange. I hear it in my mind as a sort of shouting emphasis. Another thought I had is that "well-loved" can be a euphemism for used or second-hand. That doesn't actually matter if you're talking about recipes, but it's an association I have.


I think it's perfect! This is definitely has the same earthy and vibrant feel as Super Natural Cooking, but different enough to spark interest! Best of luck, I can't wait to purchase it!

kate stillman

I think it looks great. One thing though .. I can't help wondering why 'from' is in italics. All lower case would be fine but I would ditch the italics. I'm picky that way. ;o)


Hi Heidi I am a graphic designer, and the cover you chose is wonderful. However, I have one comment/question: Why is the "from" highlighted/italicised? It is not what is important, and yet there it is! Cheers, Madeleine

m graham blake

It's beautiful, Heidi. I love the dahlia trim, and how it so very much echoes super natural cooking without mimicking it. Just lovely.

Lia HUber

Gorgeous! I can't wait to find a home for it in MY kitchen!


The one you chose is the best for sure. Second best is the one on the bottom left (with the big picture of your face). I think the one with you walking looks melancholy.


I would look twice at that cover, it has eye appeal. Even if I was not familiar with your site I would find that cover enticing. It actually is more attractive than the first, though I am not sure what has upped the WOW factor. I do believe it is the singular focus on a well balanced plate and palatte. I am an avid cookbook reader and have access to a store I am sure you are familiar with: Powell's here in Portland. I have been in the Hawthorne store many times butit was not until after I read your site that I went and actually opened your first book. Multnomah County Library has since provided me a copy for a few weeks and now it is on my short list for purchase. As others have said, thank you for sharing this side of a cookbook.


Oh, I am so glad you picked the food world as your passion. Your cover choice is delicious. Also love the Apron. They are both so you.


I love Super Natural Cooking and I'm excited that you're releasing another book. I didn't know until now! When does it come out? The covers look gorgeous and I love the design of your previous book as well.


Beautiful, but those pink things looked like chunks of ham to me too!


Not that you needed my consent but yes, I totally agree with you. 100%. I love them all but the one you choose is more magical and enigmatic. Oh, how exciting must be the whole process of writing a book. Thank you so much for sharing it with us your readers.


I like, that the one you chose is a bit different in layout than your first book.. the similar shades of colors connect it .. maybe this is not appropriate to point this out, but the only thing that I noticed, that I wasn't loving is how the p from super lines up with the hard edge of the black.. I am thinking, that maybe the serif of the p should line up, for a softer look.. just an intuition as well, but I am sure, you guys played around with those things before.. :).. love your esthetic and imagery in general..


Beautiful design and photos for the covers. I do have to say, though, that the photo of you looking away makes my eyes just zoom straight off the cover. I follow eye direction when I see faces, so the picture of you makes me look away from the cover.


Thanks for sharing - such interesting insights into how a book gets made!

Megan (Best of Fates)

such a beautiful cover! i could not be more excited about your new book. enjoy your weekend.


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