Our guest blogger, Milan Manko, is a senior book cover designer at MiblArt, a book cover design company for self-published authors. MiblArt believes that book covers are your number one marketing tool, so the firm’s cover designers help authors get the most out of them. Connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Why DIY book covers kill your sales and how to choose a professional designer who will hit the mark
By Milan Manko
According to a Written Word Media survey, 53% of indie authors work with a professional designer on their book covers. The data isn’t surprising because in terms of return on investment, covers remain one of the most effective book marketing tools.
Why is a book cover so important today? How can you find the best designer for your book?
Let’s answer both questions so you can better manage your book investments and get a cover that will help you reach your readers.
Why is it important to have a professional book cover design?
A Panorama Project survey concludes that to target the majority of U.S.-based avid readers, authors should focus on online marketing, family-friendly book events, and distributing their books to brick-and-mortar stores. And it won’t be effective without a professional book cover.
Here are a few reasons why you need to hire a professional book cover designer and not design a book cover by yourself:
1. A designer knows how to create an unforgettable first impression.
The cover art should grab a reader’s attention even before they’re able to process the image. It’s all about the initial impulse that will urge people to learn more about the book.
2. A designer analyzes the book market and your genre.
Clear genre signaling is vital for marketing as people often look for new books by genre – and Panorama’s survey proves it. So, a cover that quickly conveys its niche will be ahead of the competition.
Each genre, each subgenre, and each particular author have unique audiences with unique preferences. And only with a professional book cover will you draw the audience you need.
3. A designer knows how to work with typography.
Bad typography can ruin even the most beautiful book cover art. DIY book covers often have inappropriate or unreadable fonts that clash with the art. A book cover designer knows how to make typography pop.Bad typography can ruin even the most beautiful book cover art.Click to tweet
So, a professional book cover requires good knowledge of typography, composition, color theory, and industry trends, and the ability to create immersive visual storytelling.
In other words, finding a beautiful stock photo and slapping a book title on top doesn’t cut it. You need an experienced book cover designer for this job.
How to find a good book cover designer
One of the most reliable ways to find a good designer is to ask your fellow indie authors with covers you admire who designed their covers. They won’t leave you hanging!
One of the most reliable ways to find a good designer is to ask your fellow indie authors with covers you admire who designed their covers.Click to tweetIf you have nobody to ask, research is your only option. Create a list of companies or freelancers to choose from. And here’s what to do next.
Check customer reviews.
Experienced designers should have at least some customer reviews or testimonials from authors. If reviews are on social media pages, you can easily check whether the people who left them are real.
View examples of book covers in your genre.
A designer who makes amazing romance covers may struggle with science fiction or fantasy. Or a designer can make dull romance covers but create gorgeous nonfiction designs. Ensure the designer’s portfolio proves their savviness in your genre.
Ask about their book cover design process.
The quality of the design process determines the quality of the result.
For example, a good cover design process can look like this:
- A call or a questionnaire to determine the author’s requirements, references, story concept, and visions of the cover
- Negotiating payment terms
- The first draft
- Several rounds of revisions
- Final cover art
A good design process is systemic and deliberate.
Ask about the number of revisions (and whether they’re included in the fee or extra).
Like it or not, revisions are an integral part of the design process. Ask your designer about the number of revisions included in your fee and specify in what cases you have to pay extra for them.
Also, find out what exactly counts as a revision. For example, some designers do only minor revisions for free (such as changing the font, adjusting the text position, etc).
In most cases, designers are okay with more complex revisions too, as long as they come during first drafts when they’re easy to make. So, it’s your responsibility to spot any inconsistencies early.
Ask about copyrights, license, and source files.
To avoid legal troubles, ensure that designer uses official sources for their visual materials so your future cover doesn’t violate copyright laws.
In addition, you should ask what type of license you’re purchasing and how many e-books and print books you can sell.
Also, ask if the designer gives you the source files. Note that most of the designers don’t give source files or if they do, they charge a fee for them. Some designers can provide you with flattened source files with editable text in PSD format.
Agree on deadlines and payment.
There are a few things you should ask about pricing policy and deadlines:
- Does the designer charge in advance, and if so, how much? Half of the fee is a comfortable maximum in case of complex works with illustration, for example.
- What about a refund? Is a refund partial or complete? In which cases does a refund apply? Ideally, you want a refund if the cover is bad quality or doesn’t meet your initial requirements.
- How long will it be before you receive first drafts and a final design? You need to ensure you’ll get the design in time to launch your marketing campaign.
The designer and author synergy
The rest is up to your chemistry with a designer.
You need to feel comfortable and trust their opinion. All in all, designing a book cover is a job for two people: You exchange ideas, experiment together, and share feedback without worries.Designing a book cover is a job for two people: You exchange ideas, experiment together, and share feedback.Click to tweet
We hope you’ll find a cover design partner with whom you’ll have perfect synergy. Good luck!
Do you love your book cover? Tell us why in a comment!
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