Book Design: Playing Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra

I‘ve actually done a cover for this story before. It was for the original, novella-length version of Playing Autumn, which was included in a limited-run romance anthology, and published as a limited-run print edition.

Playing Autumn novella

The new version is a novel — it’s longer and the romance is a bit steamier. So Mina asked me to do another cover that was — in her words — “spicier”.

What do you think?

Playing Autumn novel


We chose a photo that had the couple in a more intimate pose. Because, steamier yo. It’s like no one’s naked, but you know they’re thinking about it. Getting naked, I mean. (Either that or cake. Because that’s totally my expression when I’m thinking of cake.)


I changed the color palette, but as with the old one, the new palette features warm colors. While the old cover has a lot of orange, the new cover has orange and yellow. The story takes place in the fall, after all. I wanted to play up the story’s fangirl-fantasy-come-true aspect, so I made the title text with color gradients, and made it slightly transparent.

I didn’t want Haley’s hair to clash with the orange in the title text and the orange in her dress, so I colored it a darker red — like a sort of muted wine color. In the original stock photo, the female model is a blonde.

Playing Autumn novel cover (stock photo)Playing Autumn novel (front)

Finally, Mina thought the models looked too sun-kissed for our purposes, so I cooled down the color tones.

Final touches

Oliver was a pop-rock star. But it was difficult to find a photo of a rock star-looking dude who was the right age and didn’t sport facial hair. So I had to give the male model in the stock photo a shave. Sorry, dude!

(Fortunately,he had nice hair and the perfect plain white rock star shirt.)

Check out Playing Autumn on Amazon.

[red_box]Haley Reese is going back home to Houston and she’s dreading this trip. She volunteers as a mentor to young musicians at an annual festival, and the longer she’s been doing it, the more she feels like a fraud. It’s been years since the web videos that made her sort-of famous first came out, and she hasn’t done anything else to pursue the career in music she’s always wanted. Things start looking up when she shares a plane ride with Oliver Cabrera, music prodigy, rock star, and the reason why she picked up an instrument in the first place.

Oliver Cabrera hasn’t called any place “home” since he started touring professionally in his teens, but Houston is as close to it as any. He’s also nearly broke, his career just about over. When he gets the invitation to mentor at the Breathe Music Festival again, he decides, what the hell, he should finally show up. He meets Haley, Hot Piano Girl herself, and finds her fear of failure might be easier to fix than his own. [/red_box]


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