I’ve worked on three book covers this year, “Ten Reminders for the Single Christian Woman,” “Cinders of Castlerea” and “Under a Scottish Sky.” The last book cover still remains to be done.
I’ve noticed many publishers now work with authors when it comes to book covers for long forms of work, like novellas and novels. Often you’ll be writing to the designer about the book’s tone, mood, theme, fonts and the pictures.
I wanted to share a few things you should ask your book cover designer if you’re hiring one or working with one.
Have they seen comp titles?
This is important. Don’t be shy. Just ask. Especially if there’s one you like. Often a cover you may like, may not be suitable for the genre you’re writing. So, one of the first questions you must ask your designer, especially one whose working from scratch, if they’ve seen comparative books in your genre.
Have you browsed through them? Just to get a look and feel of what’s currently on trend! For example, you can’t have a bright cheerful cover with lilies and fields for a violent psychological thriller. (Although that could work on another mental level if done right! Ha!) Send comp titles to your designer. Show them what is expected of your genre and what you’re expecting as well. Don’t say surprise me. They can and they will, but give them some breadth or you risk facing disappointment at your own peril.
Does the stock photo have a commercial license?
This is a biggie. Often this is forgotten, especially if your’re using stock photos. Remember, you may purchase a photo, but that doesn’t mean it has a commercial license. Check this. Does your image have a commercial license? Some images have a license up to 499,000 sales, after which you must renew the license. So check the license of the image. Once you select a stock photo, ask about the commercial license of the image. Even if you hire a designer, get this commercial license.
Can the design be consistently replicated across platforms?
You will be creating a cover that can be used for ebooks, printbooks, hardcover, 3D covers, audio-books, social media headers, bookmarks and the list goes on. Can your book cover fit seamlessly into all of these without too much tweaking. Is it too dark, graphic heavy or just crowded to use it flawlessly? You’ve got to keep in mind, that book cover designers will charge you every time you want to edit or tweak things. Can the cover be used across all these platforms seamlessly? You want it to.
Are there Copyrights?
Authors everywhere have become wary. Out of the blue, they’re sued for an image or information that they didn’t give credit to, especially after they start making money. So find out, does any part of the cover have a copyright? Does your designer want anyone to be credited?
What are the Costs?
Ooh! This is the main one. Good covers cost money. Good covers are more than selecting a photo and slapping on words. It’s about concept and theme and getting a reader to take a chance on your characters before having met them. If you head out to fiverr, people make covers for five bucks a pop. Or you could buy a pre-made cover, where all the above questions would still be relevant or you could have one custom made, all of which costs money.
Ask your cover designer about the costs upfront. In my experience, it’s better to hire designers who draw and photograph themselves, because then the cost of the cover drops considerably. But the range is wide from 5- 500$. Though I have to admit an expensive cover doesn’t mean a better cover. You are the best judge of your book, get a cover that conveys your story.
What more tips do you have when creating a book cover? Let me know.