So, as writers we create images by stringing a series of words together that we hope the reader will find evocative. We focus on that, and then when it comes time to self-publish we get hit with the realization we need an actual picture to represent to the buying public what they’ll find buried in our hundred-thousand-word new born. It can be a trifle … unsettling.
If you fancy yourself a visual artist of sorts, you can tackle this project yourself. Maybe you have a skilled friend you can hit up for a favor. Quite a lot of folks do not have these as options. What to do?
You can go to web sites with premade covers. There you sort through their offerings, in the hopes that someone just happened to capture the look and feel of your story. You choose the cover, pay for it, and they add the relevant text to it. Fairly easy, and usually inexpensive, but a good many people aren’t going to find the perfect book cover this way.
There are other options. I’m going to say flat out, I do not think Fiverr is one of them. I’m sure some folks will disagree, but for the most part, a killer cover is not the result of someone working for $5 a shot.
You can go to Createspace and use one of their options. One is a DIY system called Cover Creator where they provide templates which you modify with clip art, stock photos, or something you provide. This isn’t a horrible idea, and it’s free, so if you’re not in a position to fork over any dough, this may be the best choice for you.
Createspace also has different levels of professional help available for cover design. The less expensive version ($399) gets you a consultation, use of a single image, custom layout, custom background color and stylized text options. The “premier” version ($599) gets you a consultation, single stock image, unique stylized font and theme, two options for the cover (your version and the one the designer suggests), plus a couple rounds of revisions.
If that is too rich for your blood (or too limiting), and you’d like to get multiple artists to vie for your attention, there are companies who provide that service as well. Crowd Sourcing has grown over the years. You can get just about anything designed for your project. Not just business cards. Not just company logos. Book covers. Places like DesignCrowd have you write a brief which includes all the items you consider essential for the artists to know when competing for work . You pay a fee to the company and a portion of that (usually about 2/3) gets assigned as the “prize” for winning the contest (this can vary, but $300 seems standard for what you pay). You set the amount of time for the contest to run, choose finalists to go on to the next round, and then choose the winner at the end. If you don’t like any of the designs presented to you, you get your fee refunded. I mentioned DesignCrowd, but there are others. The one I am most familiar with is 99Designs.
My next article will cover (no pun intended) what to do and not do when setting up a contest at a crowd sourcing site. I’ve entered a number of contests at 99designs and have dealt with the frustration of dealing with authors who didn’t know what they were doing. I’ll try to provide you some tips so if you go this route you’ll have a more successful campaign.
In the meantime, if you want to know a whole lot more about the actual art of cover design, check out The Book Designer. There you can find out all kinds of useful things, and once you’ve published your new shiny book, you can enter your books cover into his monthly contest and perhaps gain a little exposure for your work.