If there is one thing self-publishers learn during their journey, it’s that developing a title to sell is complicated and difficult. Cover design is one of those elements that makes authors realize they are in over their head and need a little help. Choosing a cover designer has its own set of caveats. You have to find someone who does your genre, someone who you can trust, and perhaps most importantly of all; someone you can afford.
Learn the Rules
Your first step for finding and working with a cover illustrator is learning the rules of your genre. As the old saying goes you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover yet ironically that is exactly what consumers will do. The cover is the first thing people see of a title. It’s what draws them in or prompts them to pick up a book that they’ve never seen before to learn more about it.
Find out what has worked for other popular titles in your genre. Are there common themes or elements? This is why it’s also important to find someone who specializes in your genre. For instance if you find an illustrator or designer that only does fantasy covers (and that is the genre of your title) you’ll be much better off than finding someone who doesn’t specialize.
You wanted to self-publish a book, do as much as you can yourself. When you hire work done (in this case with a cover illustrator), you should set clear expectations as to what work the illustrator will perform and what work you will perform.
You can save yourself some money and maintain more creative control if you do as much as you can on your own. Use the talents you have and trust in your own judgment. Leave anything you don’t feel comfortable doing to your illustrator.
Finding an Illustrator or Designer
Sometimes even knowing where to start looking for a cover designer can be a tedious process. Do you just start searching the web? Do you ask the people you know? Is there a central location where these kind of professionals hang out? Truth is it’s all of the above.
Don’t search the web blindly but do look for sites that have freelancer profiles. Sites like Upwork (who also now owns Elance and oDesk) have thousands of members.
The specialty of these websites is to match people looking for professional services with the people who can perform the work. Make sure you read up on someone before you hire and always ask for and follow up on references.
Another strategy is to tap your sphere of influence (i.e. the people you already know). Use social media to ask your network if they know of anyone. You might come up empty handed but you could also find someone you really trust that can do a great job for you.
You can also check out author, publisher or design related forums. These communities often have job or project boards where you can post requests for work. Sometimes just posing a question in the main forum will get you a handful of responders interested in working with you.
Working with freelance cover designers can save you a lot of money when self-publishing your book. The most important thing to keep in mind is to carefully evaluate anyone you have work for you. References are the most powerful tool because if others have had a good experience, chances are you will too.
What tips do you have for finding and working with a cover designer? Join in the conversation by commenting below.