Self-Publishing Cover Art - Part One

Book Cover Design.


Let’s face it; people do judge a book by its cover. Book browsers will only give a book a few seconds glance. Good cover can draw potential readers in whereas a poorly designed cover, can send them screaming for the hills.
This is what drives many people to pay hundreds of dollars to do a cover for them. I’m not saying that’s wrong. Just please remember your budget.
 Your cover should do three things: Advertise the book, showcase the author, and set the “feel” of the book.
That’s the first thing people are going to see when they look at your work. So it goes without saying, that you cover needs to really grab their attention. It needs to stand out among thousands of other books within its genre.
If you’re book catches their eye, it might get them to read the back cover, or product description (for online shopping). Beyond that, they may take a chance on a sample, or decide to buy the book right there. And that’s exactly what you want.
Remember this when thinking of cover design. It’s the most important visual sales tool you have, and worth spending a little extra time and a few extra dollars on. Cover art and editing are the two places where most of your budget will be spent (marketing being the remainder).

For most of us, cover art is something we will have to hire out for. We’re writers, that doesn’t mean we’re graphic artist. “Don’t quit your day job.” It’s okay to NOT be a graphic artist. If you don’t have the skills necessary to produce a professional-looking book cover, then you’ll need to get in touch with a freelance artist.
There are a wide variety of freelance graphic artist available who can produce a beautiful cover, prices however, will vary depending on the artist, so shop around. One thing to consider when looking for artists: you want someone who specializes in book cover art. Not all artist are suited for working on book covers. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Willsin’s World – Book covers & trailers http://www.willsinrowe.blogspot.com/
Phatpuppy Art – Beautiful artwork available for purchase and use as book covers. http://phatpuppyart.com/
Ronnell D. Porter – Book Cover Design http://www.wix.com/ronnelldporter/design
Intense Whisper – Book Cover Design http://intensewhisp.deviantart.com/
Extended Imagery – Book Cover Design http://extendedimagery.blogspot.com/
Those are just a few of the many designers out there. Do your research and ask around to find your designers. Social networking sites like Facebook are wonderful for this, there are lots of groups out there with aspiring novelist, they are a wealth of information and leads.
Once you’ve hired a designer, there is one important thing to remember. In most cases, you are purchasing rights to use their artwork. The art is not yours and yours alone. You’ll need to know if those are exclusive rights or if they are just general rights of use.
Exclusive rights means you are the only one that will be able to use that picture. Exclusive rights may have some limitations on them. In some cases, there are time limits. You may have rights of exclusivity for a year or more, or you may have permanent exclusive rights. This is an important thing to consider when paying someone to create your cover.
Tips for working with a cover designer.
Look for someone who wants to work with your vision. This is your baby and the cover is the first thing people will see. Have an idea of what you want and look for someone who can work with your idea. There is nothing worse than working with someone who wants to steamroll your idea with their own because they are an “artist.” If the artist is not someone you can work with, no matter how good they are, they aren’t the artist for you.
Along with that, you want to work with someone you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and for changes if the artwork they present isn’t quite right. You need someone you can work with.
Always get things in writing. Even if it’s just an email, make sure all details of your agreement are on some form of written communication. This protects both you and the designer from risk. Whenever possible, a contract is best, but not all freelancers work with contracts. Having things in writing is a way to ensure that there is no confusion in details, rights, and payment.
Know what you need. Beyond the idea of what kind of art you want, your designer will want to know important details about the specifications about your book. I learned this the hard way. Know what your book dimensions will be before this step. Know the page count, know the size of the book, paper or Hb. Do your book layout first. Along with that, know your deadline.
Lastly, make sure your artist takes payment in two parts. This, just like getting everything in writing, protects you both. Half payment should be made when you hire/commission the artist, and the second half should be paid upon delivery of final product. Paying all of the money upon delivery places pressure on the artist to rush to give you the art so they can get paid. Paying all of the money in advance can hurt you as well. It means you are taking a risk that the art will be exactly what you want. In most cases, it will, but there are some cases where you and the artist might not see eye to eye and once monies have exchanged hands, things get hairy. So, remember, paying in halves is the best way to go.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

Comments

aravan said…
This could not have been more timely for me - the cover artist for my first novel and I are having different ideas about pay structure for the second one in the series, and I was worrying about what to do next. Now I have 4 links to get started - thanks!
Katie Salidas said…
Glad you found something of use here!!! =)
J.A. Beard said…
Not so sure if I'm going to go self, but if I do, I definitely want to hire someone.
Nightly Cafe said…
Wonderful Post. Thanks for sharing :).

BK
John M said…
With a "Work For Hire" agreement you can stipulate that you have all rights to the cover (allowing the artist/designer to use it for promotion only, adding it to his/her portfolio). Standard Work For Hire agreements can be found online and downloaded for little cost (under $10), and you can alter them as required to meet your specific need.
Katie Salidas said…
A very good addition John M. Using a work for hire contract is always advisable!!