One 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:
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
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.
- 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!
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