There are a slew of blog posts out there telling you how to find a cover artist, and the questions you should ask when searching for one, but what happens after you’ve asked the questions? After the search is over? In order to get the best experience when working with a designer to create your book cover, you should arm yourself with the essentials—it’ll help both you and your designer reach the perfect cover.
5 Essentials to Prepare for your Book Cover Artist
Basic Book information
This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen an author just expect me to know. It may seem like we work magic in Photoshop, but we aren’t mind readers. That’s why the first essential you provide is the basic information about your book. Most artists will request this right off the bat, but make their job easier by providing things like: Title, sub-title, author name (if you’re using a pseudonym), genre and audience age, comp titles, and—at the very least—a synopsis or the beginnings of a back cover blurb. All of this information is crucial to creating a cover that fits within the category it will be promoted within. Because, remember: your cover is pure advertising. While you might have a vision of what your book’s “shell” looks like, it means nothing if it doesn’t attract a reader and sell.
Examples of Book Covers You Love
Everyone has their favored aesthetic, and for a designer to understand yours it’s helpful to provide a handful (3 – 5) example covers of published books whose covers you oogle from afar. Make sure you point out the elements you like of each. Sending examples is great, but if you don’t explain your reason for liking it, it’s just as bad as not having sent any to begin with. And, while covers you love are great examples, there are also . . .
Examples of Book Covers You Hate With a Passion Burning like 1,000 Suns
Similar to the book covers you love, the book covers you hate gives a designer an idea of things to steer clear of and avoid like the plague. Don’t like text on an angle, if you’re unable to state that outright (maybe because you don’t exactly know that’s what you don’t like about a cover), by at least providing an example we can deduce what you dislike. Sending another handful of examples in this category are just as important as the covers you like, so even if your designer doesn’t ask for them (shame on them), make sure you send some.
A Description of What Your Ideal Cover Looks Like
This is a question I ask almost immediately for cover art projects both with Cardboard Monet and REUTS Publications. Essentially, if you could have any cover in the entire world—encrusted with jewels, dipped in gold, or even carved out of a stone tablet—let me know. While I can’t promise any of those difficult requests, this at least gives your designer a mark to meet. They may have suggestions about how to improve the concept, or can give you reasons why it’s not the best direction, but it gives us a glimpse into your mind’s eye, how you view your book, and how we can bring it to life.
Your Timeline of Expectations
It may differ from what your designer can provide, though this is likely something discussed before a contract is even signed. Make sure you’re on the same page, and understand some things beyond your control might interfere and cause the timeline to change. On either side of the fence, if something does change, make sure you let your designer know ASAP. Need a cover sooner? That’s important to know for scheduling purposes. Need to change the dimensions of your paperback book? Crucial. Proportions vary greatly between book sizes, and it’s not as easy of a fix as you might thing. Basically, communication throughout the entire process is key, but if you’re able to establish a baseline going forward, it’ll help in the long run. Trust me.