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Lies of the Magpie Cover Reveal!

It’s time to reveal the FINAL COVER for Lies of the Magpie.

The final decision came down to one surprising element. (Read the end to learn the deciding factor.)

Thanks to everyone who has followed, made observations, and given feedback through this process.

There is a LOT of thought, calculation, and psychology that goes into designing a cover. If you are interested in the behind-the-scenes process of choosing the final cover, below I will walk you through the concept and evolution of each cover, the audience response, the pros & cons, and ultimately why the cover was or was not chosen.

If you just want to see the FINAL COVER, skip to the end. 

Commissioned Artwork

Cover Reveal Lies of the Magpie a memoir by Maleah Day Warner

The first cover was illustrated and painted by artist Bethany Baker three years ago. Check out her work at Midsummer Studios. She will create a custom whimsical portrait of your child, family, or fiancee.

Concept: “The Carnival of Life” Watercolor. Illustrates a mother’s role escorting her child on the rides of life.

Pros: I love the symbolism injected in custom artwork. The red balloon represents the woman’s hopes and dreams. The weight of the magpie is holding down the ballon, preventing it from rising to the height of its potential. Bethany designed the image to wrap around the book’s front and back cover and included space for the title and author.

Cons: I commissioned Bethany to create this cover in 2017 when I was considering self-publishing. Since then, I’ve learned the importance of matching the cover mood and style to the book’s genre. This painted image conveys a children’s picture book more than an adult memoir.

Commercial Artwork

In March I began working with my publisher’s cover designer. I gave her a synopsis of my book as well as the genre and overall tone and said I’d like a magpie and possibly a necklace. The following are the concepts she created. 

Woman’s Profile in Silhouette

Cover Reveal Lies of the Magpie a memoir by Maleah Day Warner

Concept: Vector image. This was the first design I previewed from the designer and it took my breath away. Seeing this made my story come alive.

Audience Response: Facebook Favorite. Marketing Specialist’s Favorite. This was the clear winner of all the vector images. 

Melanie: “To me it signifies there is something in all of us. From the outline of the women and the bird within.”

Colleen: “Creative flow and I love the color”

Kerry: “The theme Lies of the Magpie and it whispering in your ear fits.”

Shanda:  “It needs the silhouette of the girl for the human touch effect.”

Jill: “It draws me in. My kids who love to write voted this one as well.

Pros: The woman’s profile in silhouette hints she has a personal struggle. Something is stopping her from facing life straight on, and you get the hint the magpie plays a big role. Clear and easy to read.

Cons: Hard to find a con other than the weight of the image is heavy on the left and the mood is a bit depressing.

Woman at the Window

Concept: Live photography magpie at window. This was one of my early favorites.

Audience Response: Facebook Winner

Kylene:  “By far my favorite.”

Clarissa: “Caught my eye quick.

Tasha: “Intriguing.”

Lisa: “My least favorite. I find it a little confusing.”

Pros:  The image evokes curiosity and lets you know this will be an emotional story. Lovely use of black & white with hints of color.

Cons: Ultimately the cover is too confusing to understand at first glance. There is a lot going on. The title gets lost in the image. 

Magpie on a Tree Branch

Lies of the Magpie by Maleah Warner Book Cover

Concept: Live Photography of Magpie

Audience Response:

Larita: “Both Lies and Magpie are distinct and pop out. Neither words are mixed into the photo. So clear and grab at you.”

Laurel: “I like the emptiness and use of the negative space.”

Ryan: “Nice and simple. No images conflicting with the title.

Pros: People like this cover for its clarity and use of white space. 

Cons: Gives the impression of being a nonfiction nature book rather than literary memoir.

Magpie in Flight

Lies of the Magpie by Maleah Warner Book Cover

Concept: Thieving magpie flies away with the story.

Audience response: Editor’s Favorite.

Brooke: “Like the colors and letter font. Love the bird in flight

Ashley: “The blue one!”

Pros: The color and unique font. Reminds people of the book Wonder.

Cons: While the font is awesome, it’s also difficult to read. And it’s hard to tell if this book is for teens or adults. 

Magpie with Woman in Cage

Lies of the Magpie by Maleah Warner Book Cover

Concept: Woman in Cage. In an unintentional effort to confuse my cover designer and complicate the process, I found this image of a woman in a cage which I LOVED. My designer created a dozen variations of this concept including the magpie holding the cage by a chain in its talons. This is the cover I’ve had the hardest time letting go of.

Audience Response: Publisher’s Favorite. Author’s favorite (except for the final cover).

Kris Stena “It intrigues all of us in my family, makes us want to know why she’s in there.”

Sashleigha: “Girl in the cage for sure.

Tessy: “Shows there is a story within the book.”

Jean: “This is the most intriguing to me… it’s like… hmmmm. what’s this book all about???”

Roberti: “This one  feels very depressing and  personally, I would not pick it up.”

Pros: I love the idea of a woman trapped in the cage while the bird is outside calling the shots. A lot of power and metaphor in the image. Also conveys there is an intricate story within the pages.

Cons: Some readers were turned off by the oppressive tone of this cover image. Some confused it for a story about domestic violence.

Final Cut: While intriguing, this cover could trigger too much negative emotion and might mislead readers to thinking it’s a story of abuse.

Magpie Whispers in Woman’s Ear

Cover Reveal Lies of the Magpie a memoir by Maleah Day Warner

Concept: Live Photography with whispering magpie.

Audience Response: Mr. Warner’s Favorite. A Facebook Favorite, this cover tied in votes with the Magpie at the Window.

Brooke: “It looks like the magpie is whispering lies.

Emily: “This is my favourite – it’s alluring, intense, emotive.”

Janine: “I like this one best. I was intrigued and wanted to know what the magpie was whispering in her ear….”

Lori: “The visuals are mentally stimulating and curiosity evoking.”

Pros: This cover showcases what a rockstar the designer is. Look at the lighting on the woman’s hair! So much emotion. Title is clear and easy to read. 

Cons: My daughter thought this looked like the cover of a romance instead of memoir. Cover reveals too much of the story.

Final Cut: This cover almost needs a warning that says “Spoiler Alert.” It gives away too much too soon.

And the Final Book Cover Is . . .

Magpie with Necklace

Lies of the Magpie by Maleah Day Warner Book Cover

Concept: Simple illustration of magpie with locket in its beak.

Audience Response: Gotcha! I didn’t show this image on the Facebook or Instagram polls because I wanted it to be a surprise!

Abigail: “Love this. Looks very clean and professional.”

Cons: Interestingly, when shown to fellow authors from my publishers group, NOT ONE person voted for this cover. And yet this is the cover. WHY? There is a lot of calculation and psychology that goes into cover selection.


  1. Title stands out: One strength of this book is an amazing title, and this cover lets the title do the talking.
  2. Clear: Many readers select a book based on a thumbnail image on Kindle, Overdrive, or Barnes & Noble online. These small images need to be clear and readable.
  3. Simple: If a cover is too complicated or confusing, a reader might assume the book will be too confusing and will pass it by.
  4. Tone: This book might be about postpartum depression, but the story is NOT depressing. This cover conveys a book filled with humor, colorful metaphor, propelling symbolism, and  narrative that is almost cartoon-like in its perspective on the struggle of family life.
  5. Curiosity: You can’t deny that this little magpie perks your curiosity. What is it doing with that necklace in its beak? This cover hints at mystery and surprise within the pages of the book. The reader anticipates being taken on a fascinating journey of discovery.

Final Cut: Ultimately, one factor finalized the decision to go with this book cover.


Yes. You men were the deciding vote!

One might think a book that recounts pregnancy and childbirth in explicit detail might be just for women. However, the beta readers who finished fastest and had the most to say have all been men. A majority of my first endorsements were from men.

Perhaps this is because men have always wondered what goes on in a woman’s head and this book gives them a front row seat to one woman’s psyche. 

Ultimately, the final selling point was choosing a cover that wouldn’t be a barrier to men reading this powerful story. In addition to all the above factors, this is a cover a man could hold in an airport or have on his office desk or nightstand without appearing to be reading women’s romance.

What do you think?  Were you surprised?

I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks for following this cover journey.