It’s not easy working with a book cover designer.
I think we all acknowledge that! So often, we don’t end up with the product we’re looking for. Or, worse yet, we think we have the product we’re looking for, but it ends up being sub par when compared to other designs!
Here are Reveries Co., we’re blessed to have some really amazing cover designers working for us. Among them are Savannah Jezowski, Jessica Greyson, and Mukta A.
These ladies took a bit of time out of their busy days to share some tips with us! Each of them offered some different thoughts, and I love reading through them.
What do you think?
From Savannah Jezowski:
1. Listen to your designer.
They will give you advice, tell you what will look good and what won’t. For example, an eye-popping cover that will sell books is just as important as a cover that accurately reflects the story. Small details don’t matter much, so don’t sacrifice an amazing design for an insignificant detail that no one would ever notice.
2. Be honest with your designer.
WE DON’T READ MINDS. And sometimes we misunderstand or get the wrong “vibe,” and if you don’t speak up and let us know what you love and what you hate…we won’t ever know. And please don’t wait until the design is all finished before speaking up. By that time, it’s ten times harder to fix.
3. Be realistic in your expectations.
If you want a million dollar cover…well, you’ll probably have to pay a million dollars!! Look at the quality of work your designer typically puts out…and that’s what you can expect your book cover to look like. If you want a uniquely illustrated cover, for example, don’t hire a designer who only works with photomanipulation. Or if your book is dystopian fiction, don’t hire a designer who focuses primarily on romance covers.
4. Shop around.
Don’t just look for price tags. Browse portfolios, reader reviews, join cover design groups…get to know the designer you’re hoping to hire to make sure they are the perfect fit for your project.
5. Enjoy the process.
The cover design is the most exciting part of the publishing experience (in my humble opinion). So take time to sit and stare at the lovely concepts your designer sends your way and just enjoy them.
Find out more about Savannah Jezowski on her website where you can check out her complete portfolio, blog, books, and more!
From Jessica Greyson:
Cover Designers – it’s a unique world!
We realize you are handing us in essence the charge of your first born child—or third or fourth, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
You’re asking us to give them the “face” with which the world will perceive them. It’s a great honor, and while we will do our best to be a faithful fairy godmother and bless them with beauty with which to grace the world …
Our wands – er, mouses – don’t have the full and epic powers to make pumpkins into gilded carriages, morph squeaking mice into prancing horses, and pull glass slippers out of thin air. Our tools are a trusty computer, the limited world of stock images, a repertoire of fonts, and a mouse.
Many times you come with the “perfect” way to introduce your story to the world in mind, that is always a huge bonus. However, the world unfortunately cannot crawl into your mind and see exactly your vision for the cover.
Compromise, is always inevitable.
While the wand of photoshopping fairy godmothers can certainly work wonders, there are also limitations.
Personally, I work in the world of photo manipulation. It’s fun, but I am also limited by the photos that I can find.
There was one client who after searching for over four hours just for stock photos I had to come back and request an alternative concept.
No one was shooting photos of her time period for the rank and class of person she was looking for, it was either cheap Halloween costumes that were not redeemable, or they were in military attire, which was also not right for her character. So we found a solution. Was it the best? Not quite, but it was better than any other option we had.
Your cover is to sell your book, not tell your story.
Often I have authors come to me and share about 5-7 concepts they want on their cover. Dragons, castle, fire, battle going on in the background, main character with their incredible weapon all set against a moonlit sky.
Don’t get me wrong; I am sure your story is packed with action and having the climatic scene is exactly what you want on your cover because it’s that gut wrenching moment you’ve been building up to the entire book.
But unfortunately, no one else knows that, and all they see is confusion. Select around three elements you want featured on the cover. The character, the setting, and maybe an important object … but remember there has to be enough room for your title and name, and we are only working with a space a that is about 6×9.
Asking the “peanut gallery” might be one of my greatest pet peeves as a graphic designer.
I understand sharing the progress of the cover with a trusted friend or two who is cheering you on, or your family who is taking each step with you. But most of them aren’t graphic designers and while their input might be helpful, it doesn’t always help steer the cover in the right direction.
There is nothing like getting an email from a client, after you’ve spent 2-5 hours working on a cover concept, saying “I love everything! Oh my goodness, I can’t pick! I’ll get back to you in a few days on which one I decide.”
Then three days later getting an email: “I talked to my family, friends, and my release team and we don’t feel that any of these are right. I need new concepts, here is the new idea …”
These are often the most disheartening emails to get. I’ve scoured the internet with my clients budget in mind, and while some concepts sound incredible with your release team, your friend, your sister—they aren’t actually book-friendly.
Trust your designer.
Realize that it might not be the perfect match, but it should carry the heart of your book.
I have been blessed to have beautiful covers designed by others (before I started designing my own and even after), but if you were to ask me … there are few things I would like to have changed they weren’t exactly what I imagined it would be.
But, instead of nitpicking it to bits, I realized it conveyed to the reader what I wanted to get across in my book, which meant my perfect picture of my characters would remain with me in my heart.
Your cover should carry the heart of your book, it doesn’t need to carry the soul as well.
If you’re not willing to do with anything less than perfection, be prepared to shell out the money for a high-end designer or illustrator.
From Mukta Anjal:
Over the years, I’ve met many fantastic people with all levels of experience with working with a cover designer. From complete newbies to authors with multiple successful works, I’ve worked with them all. But when you’re a first timer, there’s some things that you should keep in mind before you get in touch with your designer.
The biggest mistake you might make while having someone create your cover for the first time is assuming that a designer can do anything.
Contrary to what some people think, we aren’t magical design-making machines! 😱 (We all wish we were, though.) Providing as many details as you can and giving challenging yet achievable projects makes us the happiest people in the world.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that once your designer has finished the final cover with your approval, they have no commitment to your project anymore. So when you ask for that small free change or fix, remember that a designers have priorities and lives of their own.
Be detailed and easy to understand, respect the abilities of your designer and cover all the expenses completely and on time, and you’ll find your designer more motivated and willing to work with you!
As a newbie, the most challenging thing will be finding the right cover designer who has a work ethic that suits you. So take some time to research, look into the designer’s work and what people have to say about them. But once you find the right match, trust me, you’ll never once regret it.
Find out more about Mukta A on her website where you can check out her complete portfolio.
Thanks & have a splendiferous day, writers!
Reveries Co. Manager