Editorial: Deciding On A Magazine's Cover: Everyone Has A Different Take
In the article "Cover Clinic: The Elements of a Big Seller" in Circulation Management (a magazine by the same group who publish Folio: ) Jane Zarem sums up the various ways consumer magazine publishers pick their cover subjects.
Some magazines leave the decision almost entirely in the hands of the editorial staff, but most don't. The cover is such an overwhelmingly critical component of newsstand sales that many magazines invite executives from the circulation department(!!) into the final decision-making session. The reasoning is: They have the best handle on what will move product.