Hello lovelies, today, I deliver my experience working with a new cover artist.
I worked with a cover artist when I first published Catching the Rose in high school (far left). It’s a sweet cover, however, it was too pink and it didn’t feel very modern. Plus, I changed my author brand and wanted to resubmit under the name Belinda Kroll.
When I republished Catching the Rose (middle), I did the new cover work. I also did the original cover for Haunting Miss Trentwood (right). At the time, I thought I was catering to women who preferred sweet romances… Not that you could tell by the covers I created! The original for Catching the Rose was more accurate, but I didn’t have rights to the image for re-publication, unfortunately.
I’ve known for some time that the covers I created wasn’t getting to my desired audience. I knew this because the Amazon “Customers who bought this item also bought” did not match my expectations. Readers seem to get the gothic part, but not the comedy or light-heartedness of what could have been a very sad, morbid tale.
So here are my tips regarding cover artists…
Know What You Want
Seriously. Don’t commission a cover artist until you have a solid understanding of your genre and audience. Read a lot of books. Collect covers of the books you want to emulate or compete against. I had a secret Pinterest board just for cover art.
Write Good Content
Know how to write compelling back cover copy. I scoured Amazon looking for good descriptions that made me want to read the book. I keep a file of good descriptions. I spent an entire afternoon picking the structure apart so I could replicate the recipe.
Determine Your Distribution
Know where you want to publish your book. If you’re working with print, Amazon’s CreateSpace has different standards than Lightning Source’s IngramSpark. If you’re working with eBook only, that is an important distinction as well.
Find a Cover Artist
Believe it or not, I found my cover artist by looking on the back cover of a book released by a newer member of my writer’s group. I visited her website and looked at every cover she had created. I confirmed she followed the young adult historical trend, but not in a derivative way. I confirmed she understood the genre, young adult historical comedic gothic (say that three times fast). I confirmed she had an online presence (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, any would have worked for me) so I could determine her responsiveness.
Plus, I read in her bio that she lives in my city. I love that! I was so excited to support a local artist. Things you should keep in mind when choosing your cover artist:
- Are they design savvy?
- Do they understand your genre?
- Do they understand your audience?
- Are they responsive?
- Are they in your budget?
Contact/Commission a Cover Artist
Once I was convinced, I contacted her through her website. This was her preferred method of communication. For the love of all that is efficient, don’t contact your desired cover artist through your preferred contact method. You’ll never get a response and you’ll lose the opportunity. This is a time for the two of you to interview one another. You’re looking for a solid professional relationship, where both parties can commit to a timeline and have explicit expectations about what is required to complete the task.
A professional cover artist, no matter how much they charge for their services, will have a design brief/form for you to fill out. On this form, you will (should) be required to provide:
- Title / subtitle
- Author name
- Back cover copy
- Author bio
My cover artist also asked for content ideas. She wanted to know the theme of the story, who the main characters were with generic physical descriptions, any important scenery details*, and any important relationships.
* Haunting Miss Trentwood is an English manor story; we don’t leave the house so it became a feature of the cover.
A professional cover artist will also have a contract for you to sign. This should include all the details of your agreement, including:
- Deposit/retainer for services
- Estimated total fee
- Who covers cost for stock art
- How many design hours are included in the base price
- How many revisions are included
- What happens if a change request occurs (what constitutes a change request? are there fees associated?)
- What are the final file formats
- When/How are the files delivered
Collaborate with Your Cover Artist i.e. Let Them Do Their Job
Now, my cover artist was super fun to work with. I had this idea in my head, and I felt pretty strongly about it. However, I’m a software designer by trade and I know when my client thinks they know what is best… they usually don’t. So I gave her exactly what I thought I wanted, I gave details about wanting silhouettes, a bright cover, a bit of mystery, and some color suggestions. I gave her access to my secret Pinterest board. And then I sat back and waited. Anxiously, like a kid at Christmas told not to touch any of the presents.
She blew me away with her collaboration skills. I approved all silhouettes before they were composed together in the final cover art. I approved the fonts. I approved the color scheme. Then I sat back and waited again for the first draft composition. I basically went with her design with minor tweaks.
The back cover was easier since it’s simpler. I submitted my publisher logo (Bright Bird Press), my author bio and author photo. I like to include my author photo because I write under a pen name and it’s nice to confirm with family and friends that I did, in fact, just publish a book.
You can tell from the before and after that hiring a cover designer is definitely worth it…
If you’ve been on the fence about hiring a cover artist, I encourage you to do your research. Hire someone you can trust. Someone you can collaborate with. Someone who makes you dance with joy when you receive your new cover art!