Hiya! Thank you for this amazing class! Always in awe how you are able to articulate your design process while you're doing it. :-)
Kind of following your outline, I started by thinking of what a book cover for a favorite TV show might look like, e.g. Great British Baking Show, but discarded it because cook books usually have images of the food on the cover. Bodyguard is a long word, and then I thought about series like Endeavour, Morse, and Lewis, but couldn't really get a handle on them. So I thought about which authors I've liked recently, and I think I read all of Liane Moriarty's books - they're so entertaining. And this one was made into a TV show. ;-)
Then it was time for brainstorming audience and content highlights.
For thumbnails, I wanted to do one asymmetrical and one symmetrical, one with the title at an angle and one straight. (Chose the ones with the stars to refine a little)
In terms of constraints, I was going to do just black on white with a lot of white space and an abstract mother & child in the corner, to give it a modern feel, but that looked a bit stark and not feminine enough.
I then played with adding lines to represent the ripple effect little lies can have, and wasn't able to make it work, so I got a photo off of unsplash.com and used those colors. It's a gradient, I'm sure there's more that can be done to the script to get it better, maybe using that reverse gradient as well, but for sketches I'm leaving it here.
I'm not sure how I can get a better hierarchy going though - should the title strokes be thicker? Author name smaller?
And then I thought this is a great beach read, so what do beach reads look like, and they're a lot more colorful and poppy, so if I were to refine this sketch, I'd make the cover girl (also from unsplash; traced) more flat illustration with cleaner lines, not a quick pastel/graphite rough job, and it would probably span the whole page with more detailed illustrations. I do like the streaky brush script though, I think that would be worth refining. This one's my favorite of the two.
All in all, I spent about 5 hours I think, and have really enjoyed the exercise! :-)
Here's a time-lapse process video: