We’ve (Naj specifically) has been working on book covers for almost 10 years. And in all those years we tried to simplify the cover process to the best of our ability, so the author doesn’t have to. But sometimes, if you have a new cover designer, or have a friend who’s working on it for you for free, you want to make sure it’s as painless as possible.
Here are 5 things to help you ease the process more.
Are couples trending right now? Or shirtless dudes?
Do your research! See what’s trending.
A lot of cover designers do this for you already (us included) but just in case never go into the cover design blind.
EVEN if you know what you want already. Be sure you check what’s on the bestselling list in your genre. And then again in your sub-genre. Don’t just go to Amazon, check out Book Depository and Barnes & Noble. If you’re a contemporary romance author who writes in the Romantic Suspense genre but chose an image that has a couple smiling instead, that just won’t work because readers will think it’s a light-hearted romance. Or a rom-com.
Too many ideas? Or none at all?
Tell them what you have in mind. (If you do)
Cover designers aren’t mind-readers. I know, I know! A lot of us make it seem as though we are but that only comes with age (LOL). What I mean is, the longer you’ve been with your cover designer, the more she/he just gets you. But if you’re starting fresh with a baby cover designer, be sure to paint them a picture. Don’t be too general and say, “I want a sexy man on the cover.” Tell them their hair color, their skin tone, what outfit you’d like him to be wearing (a suit or shirtless), if you want normal stock images or want to buy from a photographer. If you want a background, tell them what of. Cityscape? Landscape? Not all cover designers know to ask questions (like NQD’s long essays - sorry guys!). So, if you want something specific, be sure to be specific too. And we (cover designers) will tell you what would work and what won’t.
If you don’t have anything in mind but just want something to the trend, this is where you put your designers brainstorming skills to the test! They should come back to you with 50 questions to help narrow down the concept. (Well, at least that’s what I do). We believe cover design is a team effort. And working as a unit, sharing thoughts, etc. produces the best results (and they always do!). We want you to love the cover as much as we do.
Book Cover specialized stock? Retail stock? Exclusive stock from a photographer?
Do you like to control the stock search?
If so, GREAT! Because no one knows your characters better than you. If you’re having trouble finding what you need, your cover designer should be able to help you with a sample search from your side. For example, here’s what my guy looks like, can you find something similar?
Then they should give you a list of stock options. If you’re the type, who really wants to control the stock search. Especially for your models. Designers won’t mind at all. That saves time from a lot of back and forth as the designer goes through tons of stock sites, sends you a list that you reject, and then repeat until we find the right one. In any case, if you’re worried you won’t pick out the best photo, the designers will tell you if the pose or image looks awkward, or won’t work for a cover because of the cropping, etc.
Better to tell your architect that you don’t want a chimney before they start the framework!
You don’t like something - tell them beforehand.
During the brainstorming session, be sure your cover designer knows what you hate in terms of color, font styles, and overlays. This much is true, especially when you give them full reins on these three categories
For example, Yellow isn’t a widely loved color. But a lot of time, it just works great with some photos and colors. If we send you a draft of the cover that has yellow and you look at it, and all you think is, “Gosh, I hate that color”. You would ask the designer to go back change it to something else before you decide on what other major changes you’d like done (because that yellow is just too distracting).
When you could have just told him/her in the beginning, “FYI - I hate yellow, so let’s avoid that in the design”. And then possibly producing a cover you would absolutely love on the first try.
So, if you hate bokeh overlays, showing faces, manly chests, serif fonts, the color pink, green or yellow. Tell them. And I promise you, it would save you a lot of changes (if your changes are numbered) and money.
We’re always up for changes! It’s nice to see what more we can do to enhance a cover.