We all know the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” but let’s face it, people do. Your cover is an integral part of your book’s success, especially for indie authors who are self publishing.
It is definitely possible to design your own book cover, but we highly recommend getting the help of a trained professional. Unless you have some serious design skills, hiring help for your cover is a wise investment, even if you are on a tight budget.
How to find a cover designer?
Finding a cover designer can be a daunting process, especially if your are just starting out in your career as an independent author. Don’t stress because we are here to help make it a little easier for you!
Research other books in your genre
The first step to take when trying to find cover designer is to do your research. This might sound like something that is easier said than done. But the truth is, getting a list of possible designers can actually be a simple process.
A great way to find cover designers is to search Amazon for other books in your genre. In particular, other books by independent authors. Head to the Amazon Bestsellers in your genre and start clicking into the books you like the covers for.
Did you know that many independent authors actually list their cover designer in the front matter of their book? To access this, just click on the cover of the book and use the ‘Look Inside’ feature.
Now start making your list!
Ask other authors
Another easy way to find a cover designer is to ask other independent authors. If you’ve got author friends, obviously that is the best place to start. But, if you’re just starting out, you may not have a network yet.
Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to find independent authors online to start making connections. Joining author groups on Facebook is an easy first step and can open up a world of contacts. These groups are usually very active and makes it simple to reach out and ask for advice in an open forum.
If you have no luck here, you can go to your favorite independent authors websites. Most will have a contact page where you can reach out and ask questions.
Attending author conferences and local networking events is another valuable resource, not just for finding cover designer recommendations but for establishing a network of author friends for any future questions you might have.
Post an ad for a freelance book designer
While it is definitely a safer option to find established book cover designers that have worked with published independent authors already, there are many services available for you to find a freelance designer.
Freelance job sites like Upwork.com and Fiverr.com are a great resource for you to find the perfect designer and the process is relatively simple. For a site like Upwork, you can post the specifics for your task and then within 24 hours you’ll start getting proposals. If you just want to search through possible freelancers, Fiverr is great because you can filter by various aspects like budget, delivery time, and type of work to find the perfect option.
There are also book specific freelance sites like Reedsy.com that can be a valuable resource for design talent.
We’d recommend the first two options as a first step, but hiring via a freelance website is a great backup if you can’t find the perfect fit from recommendations.
How to work with a cover designer?
So, you know how to find a book cover designer. But the work is not over yet. Knowing how to work with a cover designer is just as important as knowing how to find one. Cover design is a collaborative process and you definitely want to make sure you give your input and feedback along the way to ensure the finished product is exactly what you want.
Scar in the Lion King said it best “Be Prepared.” You don’t want to waste your or your designers time, so being prepared and knowing what you want is crucial. Many designers even charge for their time, so having clear and descriptive ideas for your cover will make this process easier and quicker. You’re also more likely to not be disappointed with the end product because you’ve been clear in your vision.
Before you start collaborating on your cover we recommend taking a look at The 5 Most Common Mistakes in Book Cover Design and How to Avoid Them and How to Create a Best-Selling Cover articles for some inspiration.
It’s all great to describe what you want, but without visual examples it can be hard for a designer to picture exactly what you want. The best way around this is to find other books in your genre that you’d like to use as inspiration.
Don’t be afraid to include a lot of different covers you like. Ideally you’ll want to provide the designer with some examples for each aspect of you cover. The main stylistic components you’ll want to show in these examples are the imagery used, fonts, and colors.
If you’ll be using stock photography in your cover, you can provide these up front to the designer or send links with suggestions of what to use. If your book requires specific artwork, send a copy of your book to the designer with the character and world descriptors highlighted so they know what to create.
Set a budget
It’s very easy to get carried away in the cover design process and forget about the cost. You have to make sure you have a clear budget and your designer knows this. Be upfront with how much you want to spend and ask the designer if that is realistic for your project.
It is tempting to spend the bare minimum on a cover because it’s just another expense in the book launch process. But it is a very important step and deserves your time and consideration.
Think of your cover as your very first piece of marketing. It’s what everyone will see first when considering to buy your book, and you want it to do your writing justice.
If you know your new book will be part of a series, you’ll want to make sure you plan ahead for this now. If your budget allows, ask the designer to make several mockups for covers with similar elements, so you have some covers to use down the line. Even if you don’t have a title confirmed yet, getting this imagery now can prevent problems down the line.
Alternatively, make sure you get the contact details of your designer, so you can reach out to them in the future for more work.
You also want to make sure you ask your designer for the different elements used in the cover. What font was used, what exact color was in the background and text, where was the stock photo purchased from? Just in case you can’t work with this designer again in the future, this will make it easier for another designer to pick up where they left off.
I hope this helped make your cover design experience a little easier. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or have cover designer suggestions of your own!