How to build a book cover

Coach House Books is on the eve of releasing John Golbach's excellent short story collection which I had the honor and pleasure of designing. It's the third book of his I have been able to design. I thought it would be fun to show my process which led to It is an Honest Ghost's final cover:

First I got the brief from the publisher, the title (which was different at the time), and fortunately two stories to get a feel for the collection. So I went to the sketchbook and then pitched a bunch of concepts:

Originaly titled rough sketch for a cut-out idea.

These concepts were well received by the editors and the author but in my email I also mentioned that if they wanted, I could also do a delinquent Hardy-boys cut-out style cover. They all jumped at that idea so another sketch:

70's Spider-Man acid trip concept pitch. Fun but declined.

This version was approved so I moved on to the actual cut-out, larger but to scale:

Some lake side cutting.

The original cutout with original colors which I worked on later in Photoshop to get the blue. We flipped the image here too, worked better this way.

Ghost added and text included.

Titular story's Buick Riviera cut-out. Some Photoshop wizardry, some text made beautiful in Quark and a few more back and forths and a few months later we have ourselves a printed book. A lot of love went into these pages and I always try to show that love and commitment to the words on the covers I design. I'm very happy with the result here. That's it.