Your book cover is important for making a positive first impression with potential readers. At a recent industry conference I got to chatting with a professional book designer named Susan Newman. My publisher does my covers for me, but I know that many authors who read my blog are going the indie route and have to create the jackets on their own, so I asked her about working with cover designers. Here’s what she had to say:
First and foremost, the designer should read the book. If that’s not an option due to budgetary restraints, the author should provide one or two chapters, a questionnaire outlining the tone and themes of the book, and a brief synopsis. The author should also provide a few visual references, which will help the designer gain more insight.
As the designer reads, the voice of the author comes through as a feeling, a sense of style. That feeling becomes the basis for what is then visualized. There are all types of designers and illustrators with different styles, and it’s always best to match the right artist with the right voice. If a book is a lighthearted comedy, you wouldn’t get a cover artist who was dark and serious. That wouldn’t fit. If the book is a war history non-fiction, you wouldn’t put a cartoon on the cover. (We hope.)
There are many more factors that must be considered, such as: Are there any colors that should or should not be used? Does the author have branding that needs to be included? The designer should do some research on other covers to evaluate whether or not they were successful.
A designer with professional book cover experience will have studied typography and will be able to match the right fonts to the voice, as well as tie in illustrators and photographers as needed to choose the appropriate imagery. If some of the characters should be portrayed on the cover, it must be done in a way that doesn’t give anything away.
Pricing will vary based on the experience of the designer and the type of project. For example, a typographic cover design might cost less than a novel, mystery or cookbook because those would require original illustration or photographs as well as the design.
As you can see, a lot goes into the creation of a good book cover, which is why this is something that’s often left in the capable hands of professional book designers. For those of you who are publishing on your own, it’s worth taking Susan’s advice to heart.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2014 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.