Working with a cover designer

Independently published writers are always told that their book has to have a professionally designed cover. I certainly wouldn’t be one to disagree.

Evening Class cover resize
A cover has to tell the reader what they’re getting

Your book cover is the first thing people see and it has to be convincing. Crime fiction – in fact any fiction – is a competitive world. There are thousands of books out there and when someone is scrolling through Amazon your cover needs to jump out at them and lure them in to look at the blurb etc.

I’ve just been through the cover design process and I thought I’d offer a few tips:

  • Get recommendations – I think this really goes without saying but it’s worth remembering. Ask around your writer friends and people whose cover you admire and see who they chose. Pick three (I like the number three) and do some research on them through their website and check out other designs.
  • Work out what you want to get from them – do you want just ebook, or paperback as well? Do you need anything else, like a twitter banner? Does that come as a whole package or do you pay for each individually? Look at a few different designers so you can compare prices and what’s on offer.
  • Make sure you give the designer as detailed a brief as possible – they don’t know your book as well as you do and if you don’t give them enough detail you won’t get the design you want. My designer gave me a questionnaire to fill in, but still it was difficult to distill the book into a few short answers. However, don’t feel that you need to keep to short answers, the designer needs the information. Try to give them ideas about what you want – really think about it because it’s better to give guidance.
  • When you get the results, it’s OK to have an instant reaction to the covers, whether that’s good or bad, but make sure you take time to study them in detail. I wasn’t immediately grabbed by any of the three initial designs – I found I liked bits of each one, but none of them felt right. Given that I’d previously had no idea what I wanted, that was ironic. But once I’d reviewed them, I could go back to the designer and ask for revisions to the one I felt most fitted with a few ideas for a way towards what I was thinking. It took a revision or two but we got to a cover that’s perfect.
  • Make sure everything else is done before you send for the cover designer – my book hasn’t been proofread or formatted yet and that’s holding up preparing the print cover as I don’t know how many pages the book will have. It won’t cause too much upheaval but it’s something I’ll know for next time.
Another cover that says exactly what you’re getting

So, the cover is done. I’m going to keep you in the dark for now, the cover reveal won’t happen until the end of September but suffice to say I’m very pleased with it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, what it should look like, but my designer has captured it perfectly.

There’s still a lot to come in the process and every bit is a bit nerve-wracking. It’s a bit overwhelming but I’m getting more excited as each stage is completed. At last my dream of being published is almost in reach.


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