In my experience as a book cover designer for mainstream book publishers, authors generally had little say over their book cover design. The process of designing these covers was largely unhindered by preconceived ideas and opinions, and left the designer free to explore artistically until the best cover was created. Since buying Book Creatives last year, we have loved working directly with authors to achieve their vision for their books. We’ve have also had some interesting experiences with authors that stems from unfamiliarity with working with a book cover designer. So, our intent with this post, is to help prospective clients understand more about the creative process, so as to clearly set up expectations and avoid problems along the way. Here is our scientific formula for this process.
happy clients = a happy book cover designer = great book cover designs = happy clients
So, here are our 10 tips for keeping your book cover designer happy 🙂
#1 We, as book cover designers and you as an author, have a common goal–to create the best cover possible for your book. If you already have a vision for your cover, please share it with us! Please realize though that it may not end up being the best cover, so be open to new ideas.
#2 The first design concept is rarely the one used. Often, the creative process involves exploring many ideas and concepts until the most powerful one emerges. So, don’t be frustrated or impatient with the process. Like the old toy restoration man in Toy Story 2 says, “You can’t rush art!” (That being said, we do respect deadlines and we will try not to be slow pokes.)
#3 It’s okay to not like a design concept, but please say it nicely 🙂 We often stay up late into the night trying to perfect a concept, and when an author says they hate it, it hurts our feelings and we think, “Well, we could have been sleeping.” And that’s sad. 🙁
#4 With artwork, you don’t always get what you expect. Understand that when you send an email to us expressing what your book is about and what you want the cover to convey, that everyone has a little different vision of what words and concepts mean to them. It is our job to translate your words and ideas into a visual representation and that can take some work. Rest assured that we are trying our hardest to exceed authors’ expectations, but sometimes designs come out looking different than the image the author saw in her head and she may think we are not listening to her or not respecting her wishes. This is not the case, it is just a matter of artistic interpretation.
#5 There are elements of design principles that we follow as designers because if we don’t, our college professors come back to haunt us on scary winter nights. From time to time, clients will ask us to break one or more of these rules, and we will advise against it. Don’t be offended by this. We realize that you paid for the book and you want the book you want, however, you also paid for our expertise, so we will make recommendations based on design principles. If you take our advice, it will ensure that you have a good book design and that there will be no ghosts in our house.
#6 Remember we are trying to help you SELL your book. It is important that your book looks great artistically, but there are also considerations that a book cover designer must make in creating a cover that will market well. For example, are the cover elements still recognizable on Amazon when it shows up as a thumbnail? Are the fonts readable? Does the cover fit well with others of its genre? Will it pop on the shelf? Is it intriguing enough to pick up?
#7 Since at Book Creatives we don’t specify a number of design hours or cover concepts in your price, we ask that authors be considerate of our time. We will usually send 3-4 initial concepts. Ideally, one of these will lead to a direction that we will go with the design. We appreciate when authors give us their book size and correct page counts up front and that we have to make as few rounds of changes as possible.
#8 We are totally open to discuss changes and concepts with authors, but please with a cherry on top, don’t dictate the entire design of the book. If you would like to design it yourself, it’s best to find a student who knows how to use Photoshop and have them lay it out for you. We are in the business of creating best-selling book cover designs, and we are good at doing it. Just like authors don’t want a non-writer telling them how to write their book, it is insulting to designers to be treated like they don’t know what they’re doing.
#9 We like compliments, chocolate, and beef jerkey.
#10 Most of all, we love when our clients LOVE their book covers. There is nothing better for us than to feel like we created something that exceeds expectations. Please let us know if you loved your cover! It makes us happy.