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The care and feeding of your cover artist

26 August 2018

From Romance Rehab:

Authors need to foster a lot of relationships—relationships with their readers, book bloggers, their editorial staff, and their cover artist to name a few. Working well with your cover artist is hugely important, because after all, your cover is the first thing potential readers see.

So, assuming you don’t already have a cover artist you love and adore *bats eyes at my ridiculously patient cover artist* let’s look at how to find a cover artist.

. . . .

If you’re looking at indie publication, you’re gonna need a cover artist. Unless you’re already a Photoshop master. Those authors exist. I can think of three great ones off the top of my head. But, most of us don’t have that skill set.

So, how do you find a cover artist? First of all, get thee to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or iBooks and start looking at book covers. Make a note of indie book covers you love. You can use the “look inside” function to scan the copyright page. Often, you can find the cover artist info right there. See if you can find at least 5-10 artists’ names you’d like to investigate a little further.

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Once you have your dream list of artists assembled, visit their business webpage, blog, and/or social media pages. If they have their rates listed, you can find out who’s in your budget and narrow your list accordingly. I’ve seen prices from $50 to $500 and everything in between. Some charge an hourly rate. If prices aren’t listed, you can always email them and ask.

. . . .

What are your rates?
Obviously, it’s best for both parties to know upfront if it’s financially feasible to work together.

Do you charge by the finished image or do you charge by the hour?
This is important to know up front, especially since the search for cover models can be a lengthy and tiresome one. And covers that incorporate a lot of layers to get the desired effect can also be time consuming.

Do you also make print flats, audiobook covers, 3-D images, banners, ads, social media graphics, etc.?
Sometimes, all you need is an ebook cover, but you may discover that you need additional images later on. You can ask if the artist has package prices for any of the above or if it’s more of an ala carte situation. It would also be a good idea to find out if they’d be willing to do any of the following in the future and if it would cost more to make it later than it would to make it now.

How many versions/tweaks of the cover do you allow before there’s an additional charge?
We’ll go into this in more depth a bit later, but authors that constantly want tweaks or complete do-overs can be a giant pain in the ass for cover artists to work with. And it’s important for both of you to know if there’s a limit for these things before beginning the cover art creation process.

. . . .

I’d like to take a minute to talk about talk about a few cover art related things you may not be aware of when you’re envisioning what you’d like to see on your cover.

  • The vast majority of cover artists don’t do their own photoshoots, they use what’s available at royalty-free stock art sites, like Deposit Photos, Shutter Stock, Dreamstime, Period Images for historical cover art and for fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Heads-up, specialty image sites tend to be pricier, and if you decide on images from a more expensive site, you should expect to be upcharged accordingly. (Links will be included in a list of resources at the end)So if the exact pose of the exact person or people you’re imagining doesn’t exist, your cover artist can’t make it exist. She can probably do wonders with Photoshop and manipulate things about the images you’ve decided on, but she (unless she’s a wizard, Harry) can’t create something from nothing.
  • You know those really fancy, intricate fonts you love? They may become virtually unreadable once they’re shrunk down to thumbnail size on a vendor’s site.
  • Dark colored cover art usually looks fine on the computer, but it doesn’t translate well to print format. It tends to turn out considerably darker and muddier, and often fine details are lost entirely.
  • Cover art is meant convey genre and evoke a mood enticing readers to buy a book. It’s not meant to be an actual representation of the characters or a scene from the book. I think a lot of times, authors get hung up on creating a visual representation on the cover of what they see in their heads.

. . . .

Don’t micromanage your artist’s process. 
Yes, this is your cover, and it’s important that you’re happy with it. But if your artist tells you that the cover will be too busy if you have a winter skating scene, an ambulance, the hero and heroine, Chinese lanterns, a hedgehog, and the series logo, you need to understand that this cover is going to be a train wreck and look amateurish.

Link to the rest at Romance Rehab and thanks to Joel for the tip.

Covers

3 Comments to “The care and feeding of your cover artist”

  1. I usually use freelancers I identify through an audition process.

    It’s important to spell out who owns what (don’t forget a rights contract)

    As an author, try not to change your mind — stick to the decisions you make. The artist will typically help by providing mockups to guide your choices.

    I find my artists (who all tend to be young and on other continents) are often tickled by getting a copy of the paperback or hardcover book whose cover they produced, after the fact. Be a nice guy and send one to them, and let them know you’ll be happy to be a reference for them — they’re in business, too.

  2. And I’ll again point out that if you’re short on funds but have some spare time you can try your hand at doing the cover yourself as well. https://www.daz3d.com/shop/

    Like playing with dolls, but at least these stay where you put them – even in mid-air!

    For a hybrid of the two, I do know a couple of people that use DAZ shots to help show their artist what they’re asking for.

  3. “You know those really fancy, intricate fonts you love? They may become virtually unreadable once they’re shrunk down to thumbnail size on a vendor’s site.”

    Also, they make the cover busy. Elaborate art, and elaborate fonts may be just too much. Even moderately intricate fonts work best with simple and minimal art, not only because that can give you a large neutral space, but because they can afford the attention. (Like a cover that looks like an illuminated manuscript with a marginalia drawing.)

    Not to mention that you want the font to harmonize with the art. Square blockish fonts do not work well with art depicting flowing motion; for that you want a flowing script. (As long as the diagonals harmonize and don’t clash!)

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