This book has a cover!

The book title may have required blood, sweat, and tears, but the book cover happened with ease. I am thrilled to present the cover of Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature:

At the start of the process the publisher asked me to offer a few thoughts about how I hoped the cover might look and feel. But then my job was to wait, hoping against hope that the result would be one I would be proud to hold in my hands. When at last the email arrived with a pdf attachment, I held my breath and clicked on the message.

And then I burst into tears. For after all those years of working on the book manuscript, all those years of writing and pondering and staring at a text file, now at last I could see the book’s face. And I loved it instantly. The face was far richer and more beautiful than I had ever imagined. Is this how parents feel when they meet their child for the first time?

The cover designer is Ann Weinstock of New York, whose work has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Association of American University Presses, and the New York Book Show.

Ann did the extraordinary: she captured the feel of the book perfectly. If you want to know what it’s like to be up close and personal with a fox, just look at this cover. And she balanced a striking photo with every other element in the design, blending all into a seamless and graceful whole.

How did Ann accomplish the miracle of a perfect cover? When I asked, here is what she said about her process:

I begin each project by reading the manuscript carefully, taking notes on tone, place, time line, characters, and important objects. I sketch as I read, exploring collage, type design, silhouetting, etc.

After finishing the book I search for images based on my notes and the publisher’s budget. Each stock agency has different strengths; some excel at historical photographs, others show a single object photographed hundreds of ways. Once I’ve gathered images I print everything and see what feels right for the book.

Then I’ll choose fonts, considering whether type should be masculine/feminine, historical/modern, smooth/degraded, formal/handwritten. When I’m comfortable with art and font choices I’ll begin laying out ideas on the computer. I work on several designs at one time and try to keep the process loose, thinking about both formal and conceptual issues—visual hierarchy, emotional tone, color, balance, book themes, etc.

Over time some layouts emerge as more exciting or successful than others. I tighten those further and send the publisher a few covers to consider. They make a choice and we refine details together. This might involve changing fonts or color, rearranging elements, or considering new art.

She works magic!

Of course, she had some magical ingredients to work with. The photographer who captured that striking portrait of a red fox is Don Johnston of Ontario, whose nature photography is beyond exquisite. You can find more photos of this same fox on the “Mammals” gallery on his website, especially this page of foxes. Lose yourself for a few minutes in the slide show on his home page, and see if the rest of your day doesn’t go better.

Ann was kind enough to contact Don to see if there was a story behind the fox, and here is what he said:

I do remember that fox. We occasionally have them visit our property looking for handouts. Hard to resist those cute faces, especially for pictures. It became quite tame and visited us regularly, sometimes bringing prey to show us. It would regularly come up on our deck to let us know it was here.

He visited in spring last year. My guess is that there was a den in the vicinity. It was hilarious to watch him once drop a mouthful of voles (five at once!) in order to grab some handouts from us.

I’m in awe of Don’s ability to capture such expressive portraits of such quick-darting animals. This particular photo shows all the intensity and intelligence behind those rich brown eyes. And I’m in awe of Ann’s ability to find the cropped image in the original large photo.

Thank you, Don, for an exquisite photo, and thank you, Ann, for a stunningly beautiful book cover. I will be so thrilled, come September, to hold the book in my hands!

To contact the artists:

Ann Weinstock, Designer
annweinstock (at) icloud (dot) com

Don Johnston, Photographer
info (at) donjohnstonphotos (dot) com


39 Responses to This book has a cover!

  1. Rosana Francescato says:March 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Wow, it’s gorgeous! Congrats!!

  2. Linda Johnson says:March 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Wow, what an image! The story of the cover and then of the fox is pure magic. It all foretells of a hand and eye picking that book first among many others. It is outstanding and then reading the stories will reveal a true friend of all things natural. Success to you!

  3. Andy says:March 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Beautiful!!! Congratulations!!!

  4. Rosemary Carstens says:March 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Priscilla, what a stunning cover–certainly eye-catching and magical and one I predict will draw readers like crazy. It’s one of the best I’ve seen. I well know the trepidation that can come with waiting to see what’s done with a cover and, because of those stories we’ve heard of horribly designed covers, how we fear it will be something we can’t stand proudly beside. You will never have that problem clearly with this extremely well-executed design. Ann Weinstock, a name to remember. And now the journey continues —- Rosemary

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

      Yes, waiting for a book cover is a nail-biting process. I too think this is an exceptionally well designed cover. It’s certainly my favorite ever! 🙂

  5. Catherine Dold says:March 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Gorgeous!! Congratulations.

  6. Barbara Richardson says:March 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations, Priscilla. Truly lovely!

  7. Debbie Mihal says:March 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Has “Best Seller” written all over it. Congratulations!

  8. Pauline Kenny says:March 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm


  9. Jody Berman says:March 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    What a beautiful cover! I’m thrilled for you. I loved learning how Ann approaches her craft, and hearing from the photographer about the sweet fox he came to know. I imagine your communication with both the designer and the photographer makes the final product even more special.

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 5, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Yes, I was thrilled to be able to communicate with both of them. Of course the first thing I wondered when I saw the cover was who that fox is. Now I know: this fox lives about 150 miles north of Toronto and takes advantage of available humans to increase the food supply! I love the intense, alert expression on the face.

  10. Sandy says:March 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    This is a cover that says, “READ ME!”

    I love the way the fox seems to be looking right at the viewer…and the back story is fascinating. I hope you’ll add an “about the cover” page to your front or end matter — do you think you can talk your publisher into that?

    Congratulations, Priscilla!

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

      I’m sure I can add some comments in the acknowledgments. It’s a story worth sharing!

  11. Ina Russell says:March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Gorgeous cover — and a wonderful story about how it came about.

  12. Andrea Meyer says:March 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    What an arresting image, it really captures your attention and draws you in. Congratulations!

  13. Kathy Kaiser says:March 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    A beautiful cover, and I was fascinated to learn about the designer’s process. I wonder if she used a masculine or feminine font for your book.

  14. Claire Walter says:March 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Fine cover and interesting backstory.

  15. Craig Strobel says:March 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Priscilla: You are the proud mother! What a gorgeous book cover child! I love it! It is perfect.

  16. Nellie says:March 5, 2012 at 1:19 am

    It’s a very elegant cover. How excited you must be feeling right now!
    I’ll look forward to reading 🙂

  17. Cynthia says:March 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

    This is a fabulous cover, all of it–the photo, the font, the arrangement.

    Congratulations on this wonderful milestone, Priscilla!

  18. Betty says:March 5, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Beautiful and compelling. This will stand out on the shelf and invite viewers to become readers. Congrats to all!

  19. Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Thank you, each of you, for your enthusiasm and for cheering on the book process. I am grateful to each of you!

  20. jenn says:March 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

    It’s absolutely stunning!

  21. Pattie Logan says:March 5, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Very alluring! Beautifully done!

  22. Julene Bair says:March 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

    What a striking cover! I can’t imagine a more perfect invitation to your readers. Congratulations!

  23. Margaret Pevec says:March 5, 2012 at 9:20 am

    The cover is gorgeous, and so fun to see after reading about how the title came about! I love the orange in the fox’s fur reflected in the beautiful script font of the title, with the black nose echoed in the black behind the title. A truly masterful cover. I’m so happy for you!

  24. Gail Storey says:March 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Perfect book cover for Kissed by a Fox! I love the colors, fonts, everything, and the soft but wise look in the eyes of the fox is a soulful reflection of your book’s insight and beauty.

  25. Carol Turner says:March 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

    It’s really stunning, Priscilla. Wow.

  26. Laurel Kallenbach says:March 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

    How beautiful and captivating! I would like to be kissed by that fox. How wonderful that your writing has been paired with such a glorious cover!

  27. Melanie Mulhall says:March 5, 2012 at 9:36 am


    What a glorious, stunning cover! Ann and Don have captured fox medicine nicely. I’m so pleased for you!

    Melanie Mulhall

  28. Linda says:March 5, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I, too, feel a welling up at the beauty of your cover. It seems perfect… compelling and alluring, kind of like fox itself. Can’t wait to read what looks to be a terrific book.
    Linda on tour in the Bay Area, soon to travel to places northwest…

  29. Rivvy Neshama says:March 5, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Brilliant and perfect! What more could one ask?

  30. Marilyn says:March 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Breathtaking – I so want to read this book! Congratulations.

  31. Caroline P says:March 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    So perfect, Priscilla. I’ve got to say, in over 25 years in book publishing I don’t think I’ve ever met a cover designer who actually read the manuscripts for which she was doing her designs. Certainly not with such acuity. No fault of theirs, mind you; they’re either not, by their own admission, “word people” or their workloads are simply too heavy for all that reading. You are a very lucky woman, and so are your readers.

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Caroline, I too was surprised that she read the book; I didn’t think that was part of the designer’s job description. But I’m supremely grateful. She communicates something splendid in this cover, and I feel oh so lucky.

  32. Don Johnston says:March 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Priscilla. Good luck with your book.


  33. Verna Wilder says:March 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Stunning! I can hardly wait to see, hold, touch, and read the book. Wonderful meeting you at the potluck last night, Priscilla. I am an instant fan!

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you, Verna! And thanks for cohosting the wonderful gathering.