FCTB: The Cover

Blog Post 40 FCTB The CoverNote:  This blog is a little longer than most of my blogs.  Why?  I think getting the cover right is so critical that it’s worth the extra words.

You’ve written a novel with compelling characters and a gripping plot.  You’ve got the building blocks for a great cover:  the title, taglines, and book description.  Now, all you need is a cover that will make them stop and take a second look.

Where to start?

Whatever you do, don’t try this at home.  Unless you are a graphic designer with lots of experience in cover design, leave your book cover to the professionals.  Why?  While you may be a genius at writing, you may not be skilled at graphic design.  I’m certainly not.

Remember that a good cover is critical.  That’s why it’s best to let a professional complete the your cover.

There are three types of professionals, and all vary in cost.

  • For those on a strict budget. These types of cover designers will ask you for pictures from stock photography to use, and drop that photo into a template that becomes your cover. While this may sound appealing in terms of price (the ones I found were less than $100), I don’t think this type of cover would do your novel justice.
  • For those willing to pay some money. These types of cover designers will ask you for information about your novel. They’ll find the images that suit the cover design and will work with those images, fonts, and colors to come up with an intriguing cover. For the vast majority of writers, this is the place to land. Expect to pay anywhere from about $150 to $600, depending on who you choose. I can guarantee you can land toward the lower end of that range with the right amount of research.
  • For those with tons of cash to blow. These cover designers typically operate with publishing houses. They hire models, create costumes, and do a professional photo shoot. They take those pictures and create a cover. Count on spending thousands of dollars on this type of cover due to the additional expenses associated with the extra steps in the process. Unless you have a rock-solid reason for wanting a cover of this caliber and have the money to spend, I recommend against it due to the sheer expense.

How do you attain and work with a cover designer?

  1. Shop around. Ask for recommendations from writers’ groups and other authors. Google something like “book cover designers.” I guarantee you’ll come up with a ton of names that way. That’s how I came across my cover designer.
  2. Check out their covers. Serious cover artists will have samples of their portfolio online. Most will break them out into the different genres, such as thriller/suspense, romance, mystery, etc. Look through all genres. Keep in mind that cover designers are essentially contractors and work in most likely all types of genres. If you see one that does bodice rippers, don’t be put off because most likely, they work in other genres. When they design their cover, they work for you and will work within your restrictions.
  3. Contact them. E-mail them with a set list of about five questions. You’ll want to know about price, how they work, what they require, how full their schedule is. The ones who really want your business will be responsive to you. They’ll provide answers to your questions, especially those regarding fee.
  4. Provide them with information. Once you’ve settled on a cover designer, they’ll guide you on how to get going. Mine requires a deposit for half the amount. That gets me onto her schedule, and then she sends me a questionnaire. If your designer does that, give them as much information as you can, maybe even more. Remember that the cover will only be as accurate as the information you supply. That’s why it’s best to err on the side of more rather than less. They may ask for all of the cover text, the page count, colors you like or don’t like, images you want to see or don’t want to see, and more information about the characters. Don’t be shy about sharing. These characters are alive and vibrant in your mind, and the more you can make them that way to your designer, the better.
  5. Review the draft. Thanks to the Internet, most likely the designer will send you a draft. Take a look at it and get the “wow” out of the way. Then use a critical eye to review it. Most importantly, read all of the text to make sure there are no typos. Shop the cover around to friends and family you know will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. This is almost like a peer review of your cover. If those who want the best for you are ho-hum in their feedback, it won’t attract the attention of readers. Make sure it captures the spirit of your novel.
  6. Provide feedback. Once you’ve collected comments, provide them to your designer. She’ll incorporate that into her design and will send you revisions. Work together to ensure that the cover is one that will attract readers.

Here’s one last note on cover designs.  We writers tend to get a specific idea in our minds about how a cover should look.  Know that our ideas may not translate well into a cover.  Keep in mind that your designer has gifts in graphic design.  Their ideas may be different and better, so be open to that.

There you have it.  The steps to take to move your novel off of your computer and into a hard copy.  The bonus?  They can also produce for you an image to use for an e-book.

Thank you for taking the time to read these posts.  I hope that they have helped you tremendously, and I look forward to sharing similar series in the future.

This post does not mention any products.  Therefore, I am not receiving any compensation for writing this post.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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