Working with a Cover artist

Gentle reader, today I want to talk about the cover of a book. If you look closely, the cover of a book has several features- title, author, a picture indicating genre or themes of the book, sometimes a blurb, and sometimes additional information such as “part of a series.”

As a self-published author, I have the opportunity to make all the decisions regarding each of these pieces of the cover. Ideally, you want the whole picture- genre, main character, title and author- conveyed in a glance as the consumer scrolls through a webpage, bookstore, or e-reader.

How to find a good cover artist? It is work, gentle reader, it is work. I found mine by emailing authors whose covers I admired and hoped that a few would share their artist information with me. I quickly narrowed the field after talking with my “finalists” about my book- the ones who wanted it to look like a romance cover I passed on immediately. The ones who wanted to make it look like a horror show, again pass. I finally decided to hire Adrijus Guscia of Rocking Book Covers to create my custom cover art.

AG is not a newbie to this game, and he has a specific process. I filled out a questionnaire for him that delineated what I wanted, the genre and feel for my book, title, and other considerations. He directed me to areas where I could purchase stock photos without copyright concerns as a starting point for my cover. I poured over possible pics on  websites where you can legally use photos for your work.

Once we had 6 pics that I thought might work, I sent them to AG, told him what I wanted, and waited. About a week later, he sent me three different versions for a cover, and we tweaked from there. I thought I may want my first novel to be part of a series, so I considered this when making my final decision to leave flexibility for future branding. My cover artist was amazing in helping me pick fonts that blended and communicated the book as well, and then sent me the files for me to submit with my novel to the formatters. AG is professional, on time, and the quoted price covered all expenses. It was a joy to work with him on this aspect of my book.

Here are a few things to ask when hiring a cover artist-

  1. Is there a flat fee that covers the project, or is the pricing structure ala carte? Some artists will rework the covers several times before the cost increases, others, you only get 1-2 revisions. Find out beforehand so there are no unintended costs to blow yoru budget.
  2. What formats will they provide for you? Do you need a banner for a Facebook page, or a thumbnail to use for a twitter handle? These additional items may cost a bit more.
  3. What other works have they done in your genre? Can they provide references?
  4. What is their turnaround time? How many covers do they do a week? Any assistants that may take over part of the project?
  5. Do you need original art? If so, how to pay the artist or copyright if the artist wants to retain rights.
  6. Are there pre-made covers that match your vision for your book? Several cover artists routinely release pre-made covers for a flat fee that is less expensive than a custom cover.
  7. How to credit your cover artist? Some want a line in the front of your book, some just want you to acknowledge them if anyone asks. Find out what your artist wants ahead of time.

Cover art is just as important as the writing and editing and layout to the success of a novel, and getting this part correct is crucial to the success of your book. Don’t skimp or take shortcuts in this part of the publication process!

Until next time-

Lillian