This is a guest post by Charles Brock, an award winning principal/creative director at faceoutstudio. Charles is a proud Okie currently living in Oregon. Most of his life was spent in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma before moving to Bend. He has been designing book covers for the last 14 years since graduating from Oklahoma State University. In his spare time, Charles enjoys photography and spending time with his wife, Kimberly and their Bullmastiff, Zoe.
““You can’t judge a book by its cover.” This tired phrase may be overused, but truthfully, a good cover design is one of the single most important elements of the book package. That being said, a book cover does not sell a book. The sole purpose of a book cover is to quickly grab the attention of the consumer and entice them to pick it up and investigate further. At that point the flap copy and or back cover copy has to do its job and convince the consumer that the content of the book is of interest to them.
So, you’ve finished writing your book and now you need a cover. What is the first step? Research. You should do some research and find an experienced book cover designer. Unfortunately, the best book designers don’t typically show up in a Google search result. One way is to go to the bookstore and find covers you like and see who the designer is. It’s standard practice to have the designer credited on the back flap of jackets or the back cover of paperbacks. What an experienced book designer offers is their knowledge of publishing, genres, sub genres and trends. This is invaluable when trying to communicate to the right audience for your book, especially if it is a niche book.
Once you‘ve identified options for cover designers, how do you pick just one? First and foremost ask to see the designer’s book portfolio. The proof is in the work. When looking at the designer’s cover portfolio, be critical. How do the covers stack up to what you see in the bookstores? Unfortunately, the quality of most self-published book covers is not great. So, look beyond the world of self-publishing. Millions of books are published every year and your book is competing with all those for the attention and money of the consumer. You don’t want a poor quality cover to put you at a disadvantage.
Another important aspect to consider when selecting an artist is the designer’s process. Ask them how they work. A good designer will want as much information as possible about your book and your audience. If it’s a work of fiction, it would be helpful if the designer was available to read it. This is not as important with non-fiction books as long as there is an in-depth summary in the brief. The more questions the designer asks you about your book, the more it shows their commitment to delivering an appropriate design for the message and the audience of your work. Will the designer share ideas or rough sketches before delivering a finalized presentation? A few well thought out ideas are much better than a bunch of options that are off the mark.
Cost. Not fun but necessary. Most experienced book designers will not be on the low end of the price range. If someone is quoting you $150 for a cover, be very suspicious of the quality of the work. When discussing price with a designer ask what is included in the price. How many options or “comps” are included? How many revisions are included? Does that include the full design and print ready mechanical? Does that include “art” costs, i.e. photography, illustrations? What is the time frame? Typical turnaround for a cover presentation is two weeks. If you need something sooner than that, expect a higher cost. If the cost is too high you could try to negotiate fewer options or comps.
You’ve spent a lot of time and hard work writing your book. Give it the cover it deserves. Don’t go with the cheapest option. Find an experienced designer that will be dedicated to giving your book the cover it deserves.”