5 Tips for Finding a Cover Artist

illustration-of-books-pvOne of the most challenging parts of self-publishing is creating a cover for your book. Readers do judge books by their covers, and having one that’s professional and appealing will go a long way toward attracting readers. But if, like me, you’re not skilled with art or graphic design, creating the cover on your own would be impossible. So how can you find a cover designer who can create the perfect cover for your book? Here are my tips:

  1. Decide What You Want

A designer might be able to help you brainstorm and discuss options, but it’s important to have a sense of what you want before you contact artists, so you can make sure that they’re a good fit for that particular style. Getting a sense of what you like and don’t like will go a long way toward helping you narrow down your options. To gather ideas, I’d suggest looking at Goodreads or Amazon and scanning for books in the same genre and category as yours. Which of these covers appeal to you, and why? What elements do they have in common?

Also, if you’re on Pinterest, consider starting a board there. You can pin all of the covers you like in one place for easier viewing. Pinterest is also a great place to look for covers, as other authors often make similar boards of covers they like that you can take a look at.

  1. Make a list

Start keeping an eye out for potential cover designers and make a list of everyone you find. Look at those same books in your genre and category on Amazon—the cover designer will often be credited somewhere or mentioned in the acknowledgments. Also, if you know any writers who have self-published, ask around for recommendations.

Personally, because I always love a good spreadsheet, I’d suggest keeping a spreadsheet with information about each designer–links to their website, who their previous clients are, links to covers they’ve designed, contact information, estimated price if it’s listed online, whether someone recommended them, genres they’ve worked in before, etc. Having all of this info in the same place will make the next step easier. Which leads me to…

  1. Narrow down your list

This is the hard part—decide which designers are the best fit for you and narrow down your list. To do this, consider some of these questions: Do they work in your category and genre? How much experience do they have? Is their style a good fit? Do you like their portfolio? How skilled are they? Are the fonts readable and clear? Do the images look good as thumbnails? Do they look professional? Prioritize your criteria, and eliminate everyone except, say, the top five or so.

  1. Contact

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start contacting the designers you’re considering. Keep in mind that not everyone will be available, and the sooner you contact them, the better. Ask about their pricing and potential timeline. Also, be sure to ask about what kind of license they offer for covers, especially if stock images are being used. Once you have all of this information, you’ll be able to determine which artist is the best fit for you.

  1. Have a backup

Sometimes plans fall through. Your designer might be unable to complete the project after all. Perhaps their schedule changed, or something unexpected came up that you couldn’t have prepared for. Be sure to keep the contact info for your backup choices, just in case something goes wrong and you need someone new to fill in. Also, leave plenty of room in your planned publishing schedule for these kinds of delays, just in case.


What do you think? Are you considering a cover designer? Have you worked with one before? How did you find the right artist? What tips did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.

This post is part of my Self-Publishing Series. For more information about self-publishing, check out the other posts in the series here, and follow the blog to see future posts!

Related Links:

-10 Pre-Publication Tips

-All About ISBNs

-Self-Publishing Print Books: Setting a Publishing Timeline

-Author Branding


One thought on “5 Tips for Finding a Cover Artist

  1. cliftonhhill says:

    Solid post, and as I read I am reminded why I chose 99Designs.

    I might have gotten a cheaper cover seeking an artist out individually, but I’m cringing just thinking of all the time it takes to research, to analyze and record, and then contact and see about availability (and my pricepoint was better than a lot of the more major artists).

    I wish I had that kind of time and organization, but I just don’t think I’ll be there any time soon.

    Instead, I just took the saved time and put it into compiling a design brief — which you’ll need anyway. A couple example covers are great, but you’ll still be swimming blind in the right lake. And you still have to evaluate what you get with sufficient feedback to get a quality finished piece.

    Make sure your design brief includes example covers for mood/style, be descriptive of genre, what you want to convey, use pictures of what you want wherever you can, describe the story, the scene, the character(s).

    I wrote up a brief on my experience with 99Designs here: http://www.cliftonh.com/2016/01/kip-quick-new-fantasy-heist-coming-soon.html

    There are other marketplaces to find/work with artists, but I don’t have any experience with them.


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