I don’t know about you but when I’m starting a new book, I always picture what the book cover will look like in my head before I even finish the second chapter. I’ve heard of authors who purchase book covers before they even write their masterpiece and base the story on the images used, and there are authors who wait until the book is finished before they even think about shopping for a cover.
In this blog, I’ll give you some tips on how to shop for pre-made and custom covers. This is the third entry in my series on book covers.
Let’s start with pre-made covers.
If you’re in the market for a pre-made book cover, you’ve probably found yourself overwhelmed and frustrated by the sheer number of websites that sell third party designs and the number of pages you have to wade through to find that perfect cover.
To be honest, no matter how much you shop, you’ll never find that “perfect” cover with a pre-made. However, pre-made covers have become my main source of income. My best sellers are fantasy and I’ve sold so many that I almost ran out and am concentrating on making more fantasy to sell on The Book Cover Designer.
I only sell my book covers through The Book Cover Designer. Yes, I could pick up more business if I sold through SelfPubBookCovers.com and/or Fiverr but I find SelfPubBookCovers to be intimidating and frustrating to upload the cover and Fiverr questionable with its business practices.
There are many great designers on both sites, but I prefer to upload my image, have approval within three days, and marketing the fresh covers. That’s why I love The Book Cover Designer website. It’s organized, they feature designers, and their approval time is 7 days a week. Their website is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
How do you shop for a book cover to keep your frustrations to a minimum?
- Your genre. That should be obvious. Most websites have categories fitting your main genre so you can filter all the other book covers out.
- Look at what the designer—well—designs. Are their images blended nicely? Are there mistakes? Do the fonts match your genre? Are the images similar to what you’re looking for in a book cover and are they similar to best sellers?
- Fonts are more important than you think. For example: In thrillers, a big bold font like Bebas Neue works all the time. It’s a public domain font that can be used on any book cover and make it look professional. However, Bebas Neue won’t work for fantasy. Although I’m not a fan of script fonts, I use them for fantasy and romance because that’s what a reader expects when purchasing a book.
- Does the coloring match the genre? Fantasy covers are bright and saturated. Purple, yellow, and blue hues are popular, so are contrasting colors like teal and yellow. Horror is dark with blacks, reds, and browns. However, I did one inspired by the movie The Nun. The girl is bright to show her good side, and dark blue where I placed the skull to show her evil side.
- Does the designer offer a website showcasing their portfolio? I’ll admit, I haven’t had time to make that page yet on my website, however, I can provide my finished work if asked so you can decide to purchase one of my pre-made covers.
- Is the artist communicating with you in a timely manner? This will also go with custom covers. When ordering a pre-made cover, some placement changes for the title will have to be made. I always ask the author if they’re happy with the title placement. Why? Because it’s good business practice and I can get feedback from the author to make sure it’s correct.
- Price points. If a designer is selling book covers for $5 and they look like this:
Steer clear. You don’t want that. Price point matters. I sell my pre-made for $50. However, my customs are way more because of the work I put into them when designing. A lot of artists will place a cover or two up for sale, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean the work is any less quality. They might want to pick up business.
Let’s move on to custom covers.
Searching for a designer can be as frustrating as shopping for a pre-made cover. I’ll be honest, most custom designers are not cheap. Most price ranges are $200+. Keep in mind there are many reasons for these prices. You can read about it in my last blog.
So here is a list of what to ask a custom designer when you find one. Also, please ask me questions. Lots of questions. I’ll be happy to answer them for you. I have an FAQ page but you might have other questions. Send them my way.
- Check their portfolio. I know I said earlier I haven’t created a portfolio page yet. I will get to it, I promise! But! I have my work available to show you upon request. You want to be sure their designs will fit your genre. Make sure you like them. Make sure they’re what you want in a book cover because every artist has their unique takes on book covers and you want it to match what you need for your masterpiece.
- What are their fees and payments? Most designers require a deposit to be sure you’re good for the money and can handle the budget of what the designer charges. Most designers will list their payment structures on their websites and Facebook pages. You can find mine on my Facebook page.
- Communication. When I receive an email from a potential client, I may not respond within 5 minutes, but my time limit is within 48 hours. I think that’s reasonable with my schedule. However, I may respond faster if I notice it right away. I always keep my emails in a tab and am alerted when a new one comes in. I don’t allow phone calls or Skype. We communicate through email or live chat. Most designers communicate the same way because some of us are in different countries and it’s almost impossible to communicate by phone. For example, I worked with a client in Australia and I’m in Florida in the United States, major time differences.
- Prototypes. Most designers call them “drafts.” I don’t know, I like the word “prototype” better. I’m not sure how other designers work, but when I hear from a potential client, I make 3 prototypes before we agree to work together. These images are free and I want to make certain you’re happy with my work before we proceed with the deposit and the actual book cover. If you’re not happy with what I envisioned, then you tell me and we part as unlikely friends. =)
- How will you send the final product? I send a zip file containing the book cover, the paperback cover, spine (if needed), a 3D Mockup, and the sites where I purchased the images. I’m working on offering more marketing materials in the near future.
- The average turnaround time. That can vary from designer to designer. My average turnaround time is 5-7 business days. If you need it faster, communicate it with me and I can have the cover done within 48 hours, but I and other designers must provide you with quality covers even if its last minute.
- Do you offer refunds? Some do, some don’t. They will have it listed in their FAQ section. It depends on the designer. I can only speak for myself and say, if you’re not satisfied with the initial drafts and up to 5 revisions, then I will refund the deposit. Otherwise, I do not offer refunds once we go forward with the designing process.
- Will you give me the source files? Many designers will not including myself. The reason is once I purchase an image or a font, it is non-transferrable. Meaning I can manipulate the image and the font for resale, but I am the sole owner of the image and font once I purchase it. It’s a gray area legally speaking. I can send you the source files, but I will remove the images and the fonts, and you can purchase them yourself. It’s safer for both of us.
- Do you have referrals? A lot of designers will post testimonials on their websites from happy clients. I’m still working on that, but if you need a referral, I have plenty of happy clients who will gladly answer your questions.
- Finally, what is the actual design process? OK, here’s the rundown of it.
- We email back and forth what you’re looking for in a cover. I recommend sending me examples from other authors or pre-made covers. These will give me an idea of what you want on your cover. I highly recommend sending me examples of best sellers because isn’t that what you want? A best seller?
- After you tell me you’re excited about the prototype, we discuss payment and most designers will lay it out in the email of what’s expected in forms of payment. I only accept payment through PayPal, but it’s free for you.
- After I fix up the original prototypes, I send them to you for other fixes and approval. This the revisions part. I limit mine to 5 revisions, but we can work together on other minor issues to make sure your masterpiece will shine on Amazon or any other retailer.
- Final prototype. After we’ve discussed the fixes, again, I send you the final prototype and once you approve; I request final payment.
- That’s when I send the final files with my watermark removed. Any other requests are extra, but we can discuss that during the designing process.
Long blog, huh? This was everything I could think of. Remember, I’m going by what my process is, and I also researched FAQ pages of other designers. The most important thing with a designer is communication. Be clear and concise. Like I tell my clients, any information you give me is strictly confidential. I will never reveal a story’s details while I’m designing for you. I’m here to help you sell your books and design the shiny new cover for your masterpiece.
Questions/ Comments? Leave them below.
Next blog will be the final blog about book covers. “What makes a great book cover.”