How my book’s cover was designed

My book has a couple 1-star ratings on Amazon. Both reviewers admittedly didn’t read it, but judged the book by its cover…

I have not read this book, but I just have a question for the author regarding the cover of the book. I would like to ask, why did you use brown hands for the guy who is holding the Finnish girl on the cover page? Is that just out of mere coincedence or was there a reason for it??


I think it is strange too that the cover has brown nands, as if to say that all brown men really want to ge their hands on a white woman from the far North. Brown people can be happy with their own too.

Whoa!! What’s wrong with that guy? He capitalized “North”!?

Here’s the final cover…


Designing the front cover of “How to Marry a Finnish Girl” was exciting and I wanted to be involved in the process. As a marketer I know the importance of retail packaging. And as a PR guy I know the importance of building buzz. A book’s cover is its first impression. So naturally I wanted something striking and intriguing.

My editor hooked me up with the super talented, and super patient, graphic designer Laura Noponen and basically gave us free rein. My editor never suggested a photographer for the cover. I guess my face would deter customers.

Here was my original pitch to Laura…

date: Tue, May 24, 2011 at 9:55 AM
subject: Re: Vs: Book cover

Laura, hi

If you don’t know, the book is called “How to Marry a Finnish Girl” and the subtitle is “Everything you wanted to know about Finland, that Finns wouldn’t tell you.” It’s a humor book about Finland, but it’s quite edgy – it’s not a tourist book at all, and avoids all the typical Finnish cliches. It’s targeted to Finns and foreigners who already know quite a lot about Finland. So I’m looking for a book cover that’s both 1) Humorous and 2) Edgy.

I have two ideas for the book cover….

1. Do you know that famous Väinämöinen/Aino painting of the man chasing the woman in the lake? The cover would be a depiction of that painting, but the man is a foreigner, of maybe African or Middle Eastern descent. The idea is to take that classic painting, update it to 2011, and show what modern Finnish couples look like.

2. Ever seen a 1950’s American cookbook? I’ve attached a few examples. That 1950’s American-woman-wearing-high-heels-while-baking is the complete opposite of a modern Finnish woman – and therein lies the humor. I love that 1950’s illustrator style, it’s again very popular thanks to that show “Mad Men”. I kinda picture the classic “Elovena” girl, blonde hair and high cheekbones, but in a classic American dress baking some Karelian pastries. Maybe her husband is an African guy wearing a suit, heading out to work. It would be a clash of American and Finnish cultures, all done with that 1950’s font and style.

Do any of those ideas resonate with you? Do they stir your creative juices at all? 🙂

Thanks so much for working with me on this!

– Phil


Yeah, my idea was to take Finland’s most sacred piece of national history and turn its main character from a God into a Somalian. That would have a sold TONS of books!!

But I wanted to depict a modern Finnish couple. And I had really gotten into “Mad Men” at the time so I wanted Betty Draper on the front. Here’s some samples I sent Laura…


Laura had an awesome idea to have the Fazer’s Laku-Pekka character holding the Elovena girl. Here is an early rough draft….

Unfortunately we can’t use those two trademarks. And Fazer ceased using the character in 2007. Probably something to do with it being extremely racist.

Below are some other rough drafts. Remember, these were just mock-ups and not necessarily ready for publication…






After several drafts back and forth (like I said, Laura is VERY patient) we all agreed on the cover you’ve seen. I absolutely love it. A modern Finnish couple in love! Or maybe it’s a foreigner groping a white girl. You decide!!

Many thanks for to Laura Noponen for permission to use her early designs

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