Updated: Nov 22, 2019
When it comes to designing a self-published book-to-be’s front cover, you can do it yourself. Or you can find someone who can do it for you.
If you’re really lucky, you have a sibling or best friend who is a phenomenal graphic designer. If not, you’re going to have to pay. And if you’re going to have to pay, it’d be really nice to get your money’s worth from the experience.
Nice, but not an automatic given. Here’s an applicable illustration…
If you’re a guy, you might not understand this. (For which I sincerely apologize.) But I’m pretty sure most women will.
It all begins with a desire to get a haircut. You’ve got the look you want all planned out. You even have a picture, which you happily show the guy or gal with the scissors.
But the guy or gal with the scissors takes one look at that picture and shakes his or her head. Maybe purses his or her lips. Perhaps even sneers.
“That’s not going to work for you, sweetie,” he or she says
Dealing with graphic designers who create book covers can be somewhat (read: very) similar.
On the plus side, there are a lot of absolutely stellar graphic designers out there. As in truly amazing artists.
That much is evidenced by many a book cover, both traditional and self-published.
It’s just that sometimes such success stories go to their heads. So you have to go into the process with respect for their expertise… and yourself.
If you hire an expert, don’t let them walk all over you.
Designing a fitting front cover is no small feat. There’s both art and science involved, including knowing what your ideal readers want. If you’re self-publishing and that’s not something you’re comfortable handling, there’s no shame in hiring someone to do it for you.
Just make sure that, if you do, you don’t let them bully you. There are some great graphic designers out there who can meet and surpass your front cover dreams. But there are others who get overly opinionated about their craft, seeing themselves as the experts and you as... not.
Here’s the thing. They are experts in their craft. But they’re not necessarily experts in your book or how you want to present it.
You need to keep that in mind.
To properly prepare for the process of hiring a graphic designer, you need to know what you want. And what you need.
To do this, I’m still saying you should look up book covers from your genre. Know what your readers are going to expect from you – and then come up with a concept that delivers on those expectations.
You might even want to jot down two or three of the front covers you like the best. That way, you can give your graphic designer some strong ideas to work with.
Next up, consider the elements that you personally want to convey, from colors to images to arrangements. Get as detailed as you possibly can be.
You might even want to write up a summary of your story to give to the artist. That will be an added guide to tell them what emotions and/or facts they’ll want to highlight.
Bottom line: Give as much information as you possibly can. And if they give any snarky pushback when you do, go find someone else.
There are plenty of other graphic designers in the book-cover-creating sea, after all.