Working with a Cover Designer

What you need to know!

A good cover designer can be the difference between a successful book or a flop. Finding a designer that you can work well with is often something that’s overlooked. Prior to booking a designer, here are some questions you need to ask:

  1. How many edits do you allow per cover, and are there an additional costs for additional edits?
  2. What’s the expected time-frame from start to finish?
  3. How much will the cover cost and where could there be hidden or extra charges?
  4. What formats do they provide, and how much will is cost for additional formats (eBook, paperback, hardback, audio, etc.)?
  5. Will the cover artist do their own typography?
  6. Will you get a separate PNG of your title for your paperback, be that just plain black or white or with all the colors and textures applied?
  7. If you need tweaks applied in the future, such as series name, series number, letters added, what will this cost?
  8. If models will be used from which to construct characters on your cover, can you create series using the same models? Once you have started a series, chances are you will want the maintain the same look and feel or theme to your covers for subsequent books in the series. You’ll want to make sure your cover designer can come along with you for that journey.

How much freedom are you prepared to give your cover designer?

Everyone works with a designer differently. Some authors will give their designer full reign on design with nothing more than the title and genre. I don’t. I am very detailed with the information I give my designer. Here is an example of the information I give them:

  • Title.
  • Author, letters.
  • Genre.
  • MG/YA/NA/ETC.
  • Color scheme.
  • Approximately how many books I expect if this is to be a series.
  • Cover mood (dark, romantic, etc).
  • Detailed description of what you want to see, I always add graphics as a visual.
  • Quick synopsis of the book/series.

I work with the same designer almost exclusively. Only rarely do I use a cover from another designer. If I do, it is normally a pre-made I picked up for a novella or something similar. Why? Because we fit. My cover designer and I have developed a rapport over time. He knows what I want and how I like things. He has no problem receiving criticism from me, or with me requesting small changes to the cover from time to time. These traits are important. I often hear authors complain about how their designer wouldn’t change something or is giving them a hard time. Remember you are the client, you are paying them for a design of your choosing. Do not accept a cover - or a cover artist - that is not what you want.

An interview with my own cover designer

I was lucky enough to sit down with my cover designer and do a quick interview with him.

Christian Bentulan, owner of Covers by Christian. Click here to check out his covers: https://www.facebook.com/coversbychristian

Q. How much information do you like to receive about a cover design from an author?
A. I usually prefer minimal information, too much information can confuse things for me, and it can make it hard for me to generate ideas. This is the sort of the information I request from my clients:

  • Short summary of the book or a blurb will suffice
  • A brief concept of what you want to see on the cover, or at least a vision (to help provide me with some initial direction)
  • Text(s) to be included on the cover (title, subtitle, author name, etc.)
  • Some sample artwork that you really like for reference to help set the direction for me to take the cover concept

Q. What is your process when completing a cover?
A. Whenever I get the time to work on a project, I won't stop until I get it perfect. I usually submit the cover as final. Whenever there are revisions, that's the time we work on it without limits. I want to ensure my clients are satisfied.

Q. What is your favorite part of designing covers for authors?
A. I would say the entire process. Whenever there are some concepts or style with which I am unfamiliar, it pushes me to the limit, and I learn something new from it.

Q. What is the hardest part of designing covers for authors?
A. The hardest part is the stock images. This is a common problem for everyone. It's difficult to match everything that is on the book in terms of character stock images. But once we find the perfect fit, everything else follows easily.

Q. What types of formats can you create for authors (ebook, audio, etc)?
A. I do most formats, including e-book, audio, paperback, hardback, ad images, mock ups, etc.

Conclusion

Although the adage says to never judge a book by its cover, rarely is that actually the case. Your cover may be what makes or breaks your book. It's one of the most influential factors you'll need to consider and is thus worth taking the time - and necessary expense - to get right the first time. Choose your cover artist carefully! Engage them in dialogue and get to know them before you sign on the dotted line. Trust me, you'll regret it otherwise.

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