Before hiring a book cover designer for your indie published book, you’ll need to take several factors under consideration. The designer will want to know what you have in mind. Here are the items you should determine before contacting a cover artist.
- Tone of Story. Is it serious, scary, or lighthearted and funny? What mood do you want to convey with your cover? Look at these images. Do they evoke different feelings in you? What tone should your designer take for your work?
- Type of Image. Do you want a realistic photo or a cartoony image? Or maybe just a pattern or flower or geometric design?
- Colors. When you look at images, what colors jump out at you? Are there any colors in particular that would enhance your brand? For example, I like bold, tropical colors since my stories take place in Florida, but maybe you prefer pastels.
- Genre Conventions. If your book is a romance, you might want a clinch cover or flowers or a photo that conveys the era and mood. I go for paranormal elements in my romance covers to indicate this particular subgenre. Cozy mystery covers have a certain humorous slant which I’ll ask my designer to emulate. So examine the covers for your genre and see which ones tell you at a glance what type of story to expect.
- Suggested Scene. If you are going to have more than a pattern or single image on your cover, think up a scene that might work. For Shear Murder, my heroine discovers a dead body under the cake table at a wedding. I thought it would be fun for readers to see the feet sticking out from under the table on the cover. The victim is wearing plum heels. Isn’t this perfect?
For Warrior Rogue, I wanted both the hero and heroine on the cover, but the emphasis should be on the guy since the Drift Lords are the main feature. But I also wanted to convey the paranormal element, hence the winged creature and planetary body in the background. Jen is a fashion designer so I wanted her to have a sleek look. Even the lettering helps brand the series, which includes Norse mythology.
- Text Font. This feature can enhance the mood. The text font can convey a humorous, gothic, historical, or eerie atmosphere. Or as above, it can enhance a feature of the story.
- Text Color. White or Black? Or a color? Blend of colors?
- Name Placement. Do you want your author name at the top, along the bottom, or mid-range across the image? Do you want your name to be bigger than the title or vice versa?
- Cover Sizes. If you are self-publishing, you’ll need a thumbprint image, a size for websites, a high resolution image for publicity, plus sizes to fit audio and print editions. For print, you will also need the spine and back cover. Consider your back cover copy and quotes before contacting the artist.
- Release Form. You’ll want a release from the designer that says you own the image and can use it in any manner necessary for book promotion.
I’m sure there are other factors to consider of which I’ll be made aware when I do contract with a cover artist. But these are all the items to determine before you reach that stage. Do your homework. The more precise you can be about what you want, the less corrections down the road.