Wednesday, July 2, 2014

But I'm Not An Artist! - Cover Design for the Rest of Us

If you want great covers, and your drawing ability is still stuck at little stick men, do not despair. You don't have to be a good artist to get great covers. Go back and read up on design, typography, layout, and art not with the despairing expectation that you'll be called upon to create your own cover, but with the confidence that you'll now know just enough to be able to tell the cover artist / designer you hire why you like their design, or why not, and what you want changed. If you can speak the same technical language as them, or even get fairly close pidgin, you'll be able to collaborate for a far better cover than "Um, I don't like it because it doesn't feel right. I dunno, the thingie is just not good, so change it."

Where do you find said designer? First, check out covers you like. Many indie authors put their cover designers (and cover art source) on the copyright or acknowledgements page, right up front. Find an ebook in your subgenre you really like? Check Amazon, click the "look inside" feature, and see if the designer / artist are listed on the copyright page.

Second, there's word of mouth - who do you hear people making happy noises about - especially if they're in your genre? (Do you wonder why I keep bringing up genre? It's because each genre and subgenre have very specific treatments and conventions in their covers, that cue the readers. If you're not on top of these and able to point them out to your designer, then you'll need a designer who's already familiar with them.)

You could also go to http://www.thebookdesigner.com - he has monthly awards for submitted covers, which not only is an education watching designers critiquing design (as opposed to the book), but lets you skim to see if you find a submitted designer you want to work with.

Still, getting a cover usually involves the time sink of either finding your cover art and the designer, or working with a designer on why the cover art he found is not what you want, and why. If you ever wished that you could just look through a page of covers and pick yours out, already made, from a catalog...

Well, you can. The technical term is "premade cover." Most common for the Thriller, Horror, and Romance genres, you can see some options from the following designers. Understand, I've never bought one, so I don't have any endorsement for a specific designer. Caveat Emptor, do your research, etc.

Damon.za and Jason Gurley are two well-known designers; they'll give you a feel for the high end of the business. There are a multitude of designers hanging out their shingle - the best directory I've found so far is on kboards at http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,123703.0.html

Like any list of people and services on the internet, you'll need to see if you can find a designer in your genre, in your budget, and still actively responding - but that'll be a good start for you.

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