Behind-the-Cover: Speechless

The cover of Hannah Harrington’s new novel, Speechless, is definitely striking. The stark white design is so different from most the of teen novels on bookstore shelves right now. Harlequin Teen Art Director, Gigi Lau, was nice enough to stop by Figment to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the cover design process. The Speechless cover might look simple, but it was no easy task to develop. Check out all the various drafts below.


This simple white cover may seem like an easy solution to arrive at, but it was quite a complex and challenging process to get to.


The challenge was to portray the idea of Speechless in a simple, succinct, and arresting manner. We wanted to do it without complex designs, photographs or illustrations and we wanted to do it with type against a white background. We had such a clear vision in our minds, but to actually achieve this was more challenging than anticipated. Because the cover is so simple in look, every little detail had to be the most appropriate to the story and fitting to the marketplace.


Within our parameters of white background and simple type, the designer Tara Scarcello and I explored many designs and executions.

We tried different fonts:

Executed the title as a smoky whisper:


Layered the title on top of another:

Broke the title in half to emphasize the “less:”

Cut out the title:

Crumpled it up:

Smoothed it back out:


The list goes on . . .

We also explored various paper stocks that the book cover could be printed on, to give the white cover a bit more oomph and attention. We investigated whether gloss, emboss, deboss, or a combination of those would be the best route to make Speechless pop off the shelf.


We arrived at the final cover design after many discussions with our team of editors, marketers, production and printing professionals, executive staff, sales team and with Hannah and her agent.

After all these explorations, we kept going back to the simple white cover with just the title Speechless in a blind emboss. Blind emboss is where there is no ink, just a raised imprint of the title. It provides a very tactile experience. On the spine, Harrington’s name fills up the entire spine with a small whisper of Speechless inside the O of her name. The tagline, “Saying she’s sorry just isn’t enough,” is again blind embossed and fills up the entire back cover. We printed it on a shimmery heavy-weight paper stock

The starkness and simplicity of the design makes it eye-catching against all the busy, colorful covers on the shelves. Picking up the book in your hands, you have a sense that there is a lot this book has to tell you.

6 thoughts on “Behind-the-Cover: Speechless

  1. Incredible book…it was so intriguing. Thanks for posting this! I was wondering how this cover was made, because it’s so simple and yet so distracting and hard to miss. Anyways, this book was fantastic.

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