Monday, March 7, 2011

Self-Publishing: How to Find a Great Graphic Artist/Book Artist/Cover Designer

The first and most important part of finding a great graphic artist is making sure they are skilled in YOUR genre. Some are multi-genre, while others are experts in one specific area.

On my author group, Indie Writers Unite, I have a Yellow Pages document of cover designers that you can get quotes from.

When I wrote, Black Diamond Death, I was still getting my feet wet in the industry, and I went with a talented lady, and I thought the cover turned out good, but then I found someone who took it to the next level. So sometimes it's trial and error, but it's a great feeling when you find that perfect fit.

To point you in the right direction, a good place to start is by looking on my Yellow Page list on Indie Writers Unite.

And here are a few recommendations that are affordable:

FLIP CITY BOOKS - Christine DeMaio Rice

She is quick, sharp, and affordable--and she can do any genre. Tell her I sent you.


Jack is both a talented writer and designer.

Medium--but still affordable--designers

Author J.A. Konrath uses Carl Graves as his cover artist.

Bob Aulicino has designed covers for J.A. Jance and Lawrence Block.

And here's something really cool - it's a video that shows how a book cover was made. Love it!

Now, as one final item of note - I want to caution you all NOT to pay too much. I believe all the graphic artists I have listed here to be honest and fair, but please be careful. I received quotes from under $100 to almost $1,000 SHEESH!

I believe anything up to about $500 for both an eBook cover and a paperback cover, complete with spine, is acceptable.

Some authors also offer pre-made covers, where they just take a stock photo and slap your title and name on it. It's a good option if you are writing just an eBook novella or novelette that won't be in print. But you need to understand going into something like that--it's a possibility you'll see your cover on another authors book as well. Stock covers can be bought by anyone.

Self-Publishing: Book and eBook Cover Artists/Graphic Artists and Why You Need One

So you've finished your novel and you have decided to publish it yourself. Well, to do that, you need a graphic artist (unless you are talented enough to do it yourself, and if you are - bravo!) For the rest of you, here's some help...

The first thing I want to say is that you don't just want to hire the first person who comes along. Here are my recommendations:

1. When you query a graphic/book cover artist, check out samples of their work and if they don't have any, request them. And here's why. Book covers can increase or decrease your sales so you want a cover that reflects the fantastic book you wrote.

2. One of the coolest things about self-publishing is that you are in control. Usually you don't even get a say with the cover of your book when it's being distributed by a publishing house so here's where you can get creative, and also - you can tell the artist that you like it, don't like, want this change and that change, etc. You CAN be picky, and you should. After all, this is your baby we're talking about, right!

For an idea of the process and how it works, let's use an example from my novel Black Diamond Death.

The first thing I did after choosing the person I wanted to design the cover was to tell her in a few sentences what the book was about and what I thought the cover should look like, and then I let her do her thing.

Here's the metamorphasis:

These were the first images that I got back, and I chose the first because I thought the background was lovely, and in my novel, it's a clear day when the skier is on the slopes and in the second and third photo, I thought it looked like she was caught in a tornado of some kind. I also didn't like the font or the colors, so I made some suggestions and actually sent her a few novels with fonts that I did like.

These next two were starting to look a lot more exciting to me. I liked the first one quite a bit, and I didn't like the second one at all - mostly because I thought it looked like he was in a cartoon. But, cool graphic. And then I decided, well - I didn't like the skier because my skier was a girl and this person looks like a dude.

So then, she sent me these two options for women skiers, and I loved the second one.

Now we had the new skier and the graphic artist was ready to make the final adjustments to the cover and add the tagline.

And I know I'm partial because it is my own book cover, but how amazing is my graphic artist? It doesn't get any better than this.