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  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci

How to Get a Book Cover

HelloOoOo everybody!

Today we're talking about one of the most important parts of book marketing, and that's book covers! You guys ask me a buttload of questions all about book covers. You want to know whether or not you should hire a professional designer. You want to know when to hire a designer, and how to hire a designer. All kinds of stuff! Because of this, I am answering your 10 most popular questions all about book covers! Let's talk all about book covers in three, two, one, go!

This video is sponsored by BOOKBRUSH. As always, all opinions are my own.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more writing tips, sarcasm, and of course, more of Princess Butters!


Number 1: What Is a Book Cover Designer?

A cover designer, also known as a cover artist, is a graphic designer who specializes in book covers and book marketing. If you're publishing a novel, it's important to work with a cover designer specifically. They know all about industry expectations and regulations. They know about trim size and formatting. Another artist or graphic designer may be talented, but that doesn't mean that they know specifically what would work for a book cover, what would look good on bookshelves, or what kind of book covers sell. Cover designers are knowledgeable about the industry and compare their skill sets with your vision.

Number 2: Why Do Book Covers Matter?

Your book cover is your number one most important piece of marketing material. Think about where people buy books. If we're talking brick-and-mortar establishments like Barnes & Noble, your book is going to be one of hundreds or even thousands on the shelves. If we look at online retailers like Amazon, your book cover is one thumbnail among millions. That means the consumer’s first impression of your book isn't going to be the story itself or even the blurb, it's going to be the cover or the spine. This means your book cover’s number one goal is to catch your reader’s attention, which is why it's imperative that you choose a cover that is both striking in full size and as a teeny tiny thumbnail.

Number 3: What Types of Writers Should Hire a Professional Cover Designer?

If all of the following applies to you, you should definitely hire a professional cover designer. One, you are writing a novelette, novella, collection of short stories, or a novel. Two, you are publishing this work either as an e-book, paperback, hardback, audiobook, or all of the above. Three, you are going to be publishing this work publicly. That means it will be available for purchase either at online retailers, brick-and-mortar establishments, or both. Fourth, you are going the self-publishing or Indie route. A big chunk of writers fit these points, and if you fit them, you probably need a cover designer.

Number 4: What if I’m Going the Traditional Publishing Route?

If you are going with traditional publishing, whether you're working with the Big Five or a small press, you do not need to hire a cover artist. Your publishing house should provide a cover artist for you. It's one of the perks of the gig! If they're not providing an artist for you, that's sketch as fuck. Get out of there!

Number 5: What Type of Writer Can Make Their Own Cover Art?

While I emphasize that a vast majority of self-published writers should hire a cover designer, there are situations where you can potentially make the cover yourself.

One, you are a professional graphic designer or cover designer. It's important to note that just because you're a graphic designer doesn't necessarily mean you're qualified to make your own cover. Most, if not all cover designers are graphic designers, but not all graphic designers are cover designers. It takes a specific skill set in order to know how to make a marketable cover. That said, I do know professional graphic designers who have made their own covers and they turned out great! But they heavily researched the industry to make sure they'd nail it. Additionally, I'm talking about professional graphic designers. Not people who dabble. I dabble in graphic design, but I would never pretend that I'm competent enough to make my own cover.

Two, you are listing your work for free. Plenty of writers do not sell their work for profit; they make it available for free so that they can build their audience. If that's the case, since you're not going to be making a profit off of your work, it's understandable to design your own cover.

Three, you're posting your work on your personal website. Lots of writers share episodic stories or short stories on their blogs or websites in order to gain experience and exposure. In this case, it makes perfect sense to design your own cover, because your work is not going to be listed alongside thousands of other covers on Amazon.

Fourth, you're posting to Wattpad or similar sites. Lots of writers and hobbyists use websites like Wattpad in order to share their stories. These types of writers can definitely make their own cover. It wouldn't make sense to fork out hundreds of dollars on a story you're just writing for fun.

And five, placeholder covers. Lots of writers, like myself, like to use placeholder images when they're talking publicly about their work in progress. This is a marketing tactic so you can get people excited about your work in progress before it has an official book cover. In this case, writers create their own cover, usually with the words “Coming Soon” somewhere on it so people know that it's temporary.

Number 6: Where Do I Find a Book Cover Designer?

The Internet, obviously . . . Google book cover designers, and you're good to go! Also look at the books you're reading, specifically books with covers that you love and are in your genre. The cover artist is often credited somewhere in the book itself. If not, you can check the author's website or shoot them an email. Keep in mind that traditionally published authors are going to be working with in-house cover designers, so if you're self-publishing, you'll want to be looking at other Indie books.

Number 7: When Do I Hire a Cover Designer?

If you're only releasing a digital book like an e-book or a Wattpad story, you can design your cover at any time. However, I recommend waiting until you've at least finished the story because the cover is going to be largely dependent on the story's content. If you're creating a story that will also be sold in paperback or hardback, the timing of designing the cover can be tricky. Cover art, in this case, typically lines up with formatting. Your cover artist is going to need to know your exact page count so they can figure out the width of the spine. Because of this, most authors I know usually hire their cover artist while their book is being professionally edited. They get the ebook and audiobook covers first, then once the book is finished being edited and formatted, they move on to the back covers and spine.

Number 8: What Should I Look for in a Cover Designer?

First and foremost, look at their portfolio! Are their covers any good? Or do they suck ass? Second, look at the genres. Plenty of cover artists create covers of all kinds, but there are some who specialize. Some designers specialize in Young Adult, while others specialize in romance, which is useless to you if you're writing adult sci-fi. Third, look at their rates. Make sure they're comparable to their competitors and make sure it's something you can afford. Fourth, look at their schedule. It's probably not gonna be made public, so you're gonna have to shoot ‘em an email. Cover artists often book months in advance, so you're gonna want to do this long before you plan on needing your cover. And lastly, ask around! Check to see if other artists have worked with this designer and what they thought of them. Please note it's important to get recent reviews. A referral from years ago isn't necessarily relevant today. Businesses change, so you want to make sure the feedback is timely.

Number 9: How Much Does a Book Cover Typically Cost?

It completely depends on the skill level of the artist, the demand for their product, and the size of the package. Not that kind of package, get your mind out of the gutter! Cover art tends to come in packages. On the cheap end, we have pre-made covers, which are book covers that are ready to go, they just need a title slapped onto them. On the expensive end of the spectrum, we have book cover packages that include covers for all different book styles, as well as formatting. That's an ebook, paperback, hardback, and audiobook, which means four book covers and four formats. Additionally, some cover art packages include banners, marketing images, ads, bookmarks, book mock-ups, and I could go on. Because of this, the vast majority of cover art packages I've seen have been between $50 to $1,000 U.S. dollars. However, I have seen pre-made covers as cheap as $25 bucks, and I have seen crazy elaborate packages made by well-known artists that were as expensive as $3,000. If you're going to budget for cover art, make sure you take into consideration everything you're expecting. If you're publishing multiple book forms, it's gonna be more expensive. If you wanna include formatting, it's gonna be more expensive. If you wanna work with a famous artist, it's gonna cost you up the ass!

Number 10: How Can I Use Book Covers to My Advantage?

First of all, we have social media! Once your book cover is made, plaster it everywhere! Twitter header, Facebook header, Instagram, Tumblr, wherever! Second, we have teasers! Lots of authors create teaser images in order to hype an upcoming book release, and your book cover should be on most, if not all, of those teasers! Third, we have the press kit. Most authors ship out a press kit to people of influence so that they can help boost the book. Your book cover should absolutely be in your press kit ’cause it will entice these people to promote you! Lastly and most importantly, we have cover reveals. Cover reveals are an enormous marketing opportunity! They create a ton of hype leading up to a book release and they incentivize readers to buy your book. I recommend hosting your cover reveal on your most popular platform. It's also common to enlist other writers to help you with the cover reveal, and it's common to hold some kind of cover reveal giveaway. All in all, the goal is to create excitement and hype! The cover reveal is a giant party on the Internet, so have fun with it!

So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

Be sure to plan ahead for your book cover, and do your research so you know what you want going into the process. Keep your goals in mind, and remember–the cover design process is supposed to be exciting! Enjoy it!


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