If you're writing a book and thinking about self publishing, don't wait until your manuscript is finished to start working on your cover art. Designing high quality cover art takes time, especially if you've never done it before. If you wait until the end to start designing your cover, you'll have to wait that much longer before you are finally ready to publish. If you start planning your cover art early, not only will it help tie up the project quicker, it may provide some motivation to finish writing. Whether you are planning to publish as an e-book or in paperback, seeing the cover art on the screen or in print makes the project seem real.
So what's the best way to design a high quality cover? Find someone else to do it! If you are a writer, write. Let the Illustrators illustrate. There are so many talented artists out there that a simple ad to craigslist should yield some results. Just explain the project and solicit feedback. Most artists will have material on their webpage or social media that they can share with you. It's up to you as the author to decide which artist best represents the style and mood that you're trying to achieve in your work.
Once you identify potential artists, give them enough instruction to produce a sketch of the image that you have in mind. There are different ways to come up with a good idea. You might have a scene in the book that you'd like to portray. Or you may have a favorite book cover with a particular style that you'd like to emulate. When designing the cover for my first book, Fraternity House, I combined one of my favorite scenes with a cover layout similar to a Herman Hesse collection that I owned. With Everyone Versus Everyone, the artist read enough of the book to come up with an idea of his own. I loved the artist's idea from the start, and because he was passionate about the image, the art came out great.
Once, you have explained to the artist what you're looking for, and the artist sends you a sample, you need to decide whether or not to move forward. If you like what you see and are ready to seal the deal, then you have to lock in a price. In 2017 dollars, I would expect to pay no less than $250. Of course, the more professional the artist, the more you can expect to pay.
After sending any templates, format, or image size restrictions to the artist, sit back and wait for the material to come in. Provide honest feedback if you like what you see or want to change something. Always be respectful. As a writer you should know, artists are sensitive. Once you get the product you want in the format you need, upload it, then download it on your device, or print a sample of the e-book or paperback to make sure it's exact. If it is, settle with the artist and thank them immensely. It's also good etiquette to send them a copy.
There are other little details to consider throughout. Color scheme, font type and title placement matter. If printing in paperback, you'll also have to consider the spine, as well as the text and design for the back cover. If you plan to place hardcopies at stores, then you'll need to have a price on the back cover as well, along with a barcode. Most print-on-demand services will take care of the barcode for you, but we'll discuss barcodes in more detail in a later post.
So there you have it. Those are Arthur Jay's tips for designing high quality cover art. And remember, people really do judge books by their cover. If you start designing your cover early, you'll get a better result and have more success selling your book.
Best of Luck,