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How to Work with a Book Cover Designer

Hi Reader & Writer Friends! As many of you know, the cover for my psychological thriller book, The Long Shadow on the Stage, was designed by the talented Mandi Lynn with Stone Ridge Books. However, finding a book cover designer that I trusted (and could afford!) wasn’t an easy process. When you’re self-publishing, there are many decisions you have to make. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what the best choice is, so you conduct as much research as possible to make informed decisions. This blog post will provide a few helpful tips for working with a book cover designer, so you know what to expect as an indie author.

First, I would recommend not hiring a cover designer until your book is near completion or at least close enough to publication that the word count won’t change much. One of the criteria cover designers need to design a cover for a paperback or hardcover book is the final word count, which changes the width of the spine and how the cover looks. You can safely contact a cover designer 2-3 months before your publication date, depending on your timeline. *If you only want an eBook cover designed, then you don’t need to worry about the word count.

Once you’re sure your book is fairly close to being completed, start looking for a cover designer. Of course, if you have any indie author friends, reach out to them and ask who designed their book covers. I think recommendations from people you trust are always the best way to go. However, if you’re new to the self-publishing community, you’ll have to do some digging of your own. You can search freelance websites like Fiverr and Upwork if you don’t have a large budget. You can purchase premade book covers that are usually much more affordable than customized covers. Or look at the inside cover of indie books whose covers you like to see if the name of their cover designer is credited. A final option is to Google search “book cover designers” and begin looking at websites.

No matter where you find your cover designer, check for reviews or testimonials from their previous clients to ensure they have satisfied clients. In addition, look at the covers they have designed to guarantee their style matches your vision for your book. Some book cover designers have very distinct styles that may not match what you want.

After you find a cover designer, reach out to them and determine whether they have availability for the month you would like to book. In my experience, the initial drafts for the book cover take about four weeks/a month to receive. For example, I booked my cover design for my second book, The Long Shadow of Memory, for April. This means I can expect to receive the initial drafts of the design at the end of April and will be able to publish my book in June or July.

It’s best to contact any cover designers you’re interested in several months before you need to book the design, so you can ensure they have availability. Popular book cover designers will book months in advance, so don’t expect to contact someone last minute.

You may be wondering what information your cover designer will need to begin designing your cover. Here are a few basic things you should prepare to send them:

· Your book title and author name.

· Book genre.

· Book synopsis/summary.

· Your vision for your book cover.

· Links to book covers you like in the same genre or a Pinterest inspiration board.

· Important elements of the book.

· Final word count (if your book will be published in paperback and/or hardcover).

· Which POD companies your book will be published through (if your book will be published in paperback and/or hardcover).

*One of the book covers that inspired mine.

When you’re booking your cover design, keep in mind the cover designer will most likely require a 50% deposit to secure your slot.

After about a month has passed, you will receive the first drafts of your cover design. Your book cover designer will ask which cover you like the best or if there are certain elements of both that you love. In the initial drafts I received for The Long Shadow on the Stage, the font of the title was yellow and white, but I asked for it to be changed to red. Any good book cover designer will make the changes you request or let you know if they don’t think it will look aesthetically pleasing.

Depending on the revisions required, it may take several more weeks until you receive the final book cover design. Once you approve the eBook design, this is when the designer needs the final word count for the paperback and/or hardcover design. *Therefore, you could continue editing your book up until this point, but make sure your book is properly formatted so the page count is accurate.

When you receive the finalized eBook cover design and paperback wrap(s), your book cover designer may also send things like a 3D book rendering, the book title as a PNG, a cover style sheet, etc. Some cover designers may include these items for an additional cost, so double check what is included before booking a cover designer.

After you’ve received the final design, verified the information is correct, and you’re in love with the design, then let your cover designer know you approve of the cover. They will send the final invoice and you can submit the last payment. If you’re happy at the end of the process, always leave a review if possible to help out your cover designer.

Comment below if you have more tips for working with cover designers. I love hearing from my fellow indie authors!

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