Design Talk: Book Cover Edition feat. Miles Tan

design talk book cover edition

I waited about a month more to be able to post this edition of Design Talk because I wanted it to go hand-in-hand with tomorrow’s big reveal. Yes! Tomorrow’s the cover reveal for my latest release, Waiting in the Wings, and it’s simple yet gorgeous cover was designed by fellow author and artist Miles Tan.

My first “encounter” with Miles was back in 2015, when I picked her book, Finding X, as one of the requisite three #romanceclass books I should read before entering Mina V. Esguerra’s #SparkNA workshop. I enjoyed it a lot I even recited nakakakilig passages of the book to my friends Chi, Kush, and Rix while reading it one afternoon in San Pablo City. Months later, I met Miles at The Study by Enderun, where we were treated to the very first live reading of some #romanceclass books, courtesy of the OG, Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that apart from being an author, Miles was also a graphics designer. And when author Ana Tejano revealed her cover for Keep the Faith last year, I knew I had to get a Miles Tan cover for myself someday. And I did. ^_^

But that is a post for tomorrow. Today (or tonight, more like), here’s my interview with Miles. <3

design talk miles tan

Miles Tan is a web and graphic designer by profession. She mostly does website updates and creates marketing materials for education and real estate clients. She describes her client output as more of steady, food-on-the-table stuff, and says she gets a lot more creative when she does book cover designs. But she also never really expected she’d be able to do a range of book covers for #romanceclass and #heistclub.

What’s your design style like?

My style is on the minimalistic side, even when the background may be abstract or colorful. I believe that a single object or image can tell a story, and I like to use simple illustrations to do that. I prefer to use pastel or muted tones, but I am recently finding my way out of that comfort zone. One of my recent works that I really like is this piece entitled Umbrella.

Umbrella by Miles Tan (2016)

What do you think makes a good/bad cover design?

For me, a really good cover design captures the essence of the title or the story. I like it when I come across some random elements on the cover but realize how important it is only after reading the story. I also think a good cover manages to balance its elements well. For example, some covers can have impressive illustrations but a weak typeface. A good cover designer knows how to combine the right elements for your story and genre.

How do you go about creating a cover design? What processes are involved?

miles-cover-other-than-easyUsually the authors would already know what they want when they contact me. But when that’s not the case, I ask for samples—either from other covers or posters—of what they like, and this doesn’t necessarily have to be what their cover would look like.

I really start with the author’s vision because they’re my clients. I guess it’s a practice that I carry with me from my day job. A client may not know what she wants when we first talk but I always want them to walk away satisfied. That’s why I ask them for their preference. Do they want to use stock or original photos? Do they want a cover that’s illustrated? From there, I create rough studies that can be either sketches or straight up mockups. Ideally, the author will pick one, and only then will I start working on the full cover. If the author can’t decide, then I have to work on the feedback that she gives. There may be a number of revisions needed, but a successful cover owes as much to honest feedback as it does to hard work.

What can you say has been the most challenging project you’ve done so far? What was challenging about it?

miles-cover-Hot-Like-ThisI am my own worst critic, especially when I have an idea in my head but I just can’t execute it right. I encountered a project where I found myself giving four studies compared to the original three that I had promised. It was during a time that I was second-guessing myself constantly because the project relied heavily on my skills as both an illustrator and a designer. There was a lot of pressure to execute it well that I even ended up redoing the main artwork twice! But to paraphrase a famous fashion mentor, I made it work. And both the author and I were happy with how it turned out.

(Quick trivia: This interview was done in November last year, and I can say Miles has sort of beaten that four-study-record she mentioned here. She gave me five design studies for Waiting in the Wings, all of which I liked, by the way. Too bad I could only choose one. :P)

Aside from designing book covers, Miles also offers book formatting for ebook and print. If you want to commission her for your next book cover or check out more of her work, send her an email via the contact form at You may also connect with her on Twitter (@maedinn) and Facebook (@MilesTan.Author).

Thank you for your time and patience with me, Miles! ^_^


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