For all that this is a complex question, there’s a really simple answer to this one actually.
You are the right kind of author to work with me if you:
-write science fiction or fantasy.
-realize that a book cover is first and foremost about marketing, so all design decisions and revisions should be made with that in mind. Minor details of the story have their place in the pages of the book, not necessarily on the cover.
-understand that while the anxiety of commissioning a cover can sometimes make authors want to control everything about the cover, the quality of your cover will not be as good if the person with less cover design experience tries to micromanage all of the details. You’ve seen what I can do, and you hired me for a reason. Give me the freedom to create something wonderful for you.
-know that a good book cover is one of the best things you can do for your book and are willing to respond promptly, pay your invoices on time, and do your part of the work so that I can create an eye-catching genre-appropriate cover for you that does its job well.
And that’s it really.
When you purchase a cover from me, you’re paying for my time, my skills, the assets I use in your cover, and most importantly my experience and knowledge of what makes a good book cover in that subgenre. You have to trust me. Too many “chefs in the kitchen” and too many un-thought-out revisions can quickly ruin a great cover, and I care more about creating a cover that attracts the right readers to your book than about earning more on a cover because you paid for lots of additional revisions which may have resulted in a cover that doesn’t market your book as well.
Some authors can feel a bit intimidated by the process of creating a book cover and knowing what to tell a designer. If you’re not familiar with what makes a good cover or you’re unsure what kind of cover you want, this can be especially daunting.
However, the good news is that you’re getting a professional to do your cover, so you don’t actually NEED to know all of this. The questionnaire you’ll fill out is really just a simple way for you to tell me the important details about your book (e.g. main characters, genre, basic plot/premise, setting) so that I can use my knowledge and experience to help us better determine the type of cover it needs to appeal to your ideal readers. You’ll also have a chance to point me towards some of your favorite covers so I can get a frame of reference for the covers you find appealing.
So if you’re new to this process and concerned that you don’t know what to put on your cover, rest easy. Answer the questionnaire as best you can and relax knowing I’ll be here to make sure you get a great cover that’s not only eye-catching, but also sends the right cues to target your audience of ideal readers.
P.S. I have a series of articles I write on what authors need to know about book cover design. While I’ll make sure any cover I create meets these principles, I always recommend authors educate themselves so they can make more informed decisions. You can read the articles currently available on my website here and sign up to my email list here to read the more in-depth articles available to my e-mail list.
Some of the information you need to know to fill in these questionnaires is obvious, even to those who may be new to the process (e.g. the title and author name(s) that you want to appear on the cover, a physical description of any characters that may appear on the cover, basic details about setting, and genre).
However, I ask some questions that may come as a surprise if you’re new to book cover design or book marketing in general. These questions are all designed to a) help me quickly discover the essence of your book, b) better position your book among its peers to get it into the hands of the right readers , and c) identify that sweet spot between what would be a great cover marketing-wise for your book and what would be a cover you like. For this reason, it may help you to collect the following before you fill out the story questionnaire:
-A short summary of the main plot and premise (Note: Try not to get bogged down in subplots or details here. The cover showcases the premise and promise of the book, not the details.)
-A list of books you think of as similar to the one we’re creating a cover for
-A list of authors you think of as writing similar stories to the one you’ve written
-A brief summary of the main theme and the overall tone of your story
-Any reference images you want to share regarding the look of characters, setting, magic, symbols, important props, etc.
-Several downloaded images of your favorite covers in the subgenre you’re writing in
Since cover trends change over time, it’s most helpful if you choose books or covers that were released in the last few years. However, there is no right or wrong answer to this, and you’re certainly more than welcome to include older covers as well as more recent covers.
Not a problem. Just purchase an additional character add-on here for each extra character you need.
Well, most obviously, build your own premades are created based on the questionnaire you submit. That means that if you order a build your own custom premade, all the character details (e.g. hair color, eye color, skin color) will match what you describe on the questionnaire. Similarly, if you specify that your story takes place in a rural setting, you won’t see any city skylines in the background of your cover, nor will you see genre cues from a different genre.
This is different from a premade cover where I create covers based on story ideas I make up that fit common subgenres (e.g. a brunette YA fantasy princess story, a blond epic fantasy warrior girl story). If you can find a premade cover that fits your story, it can work brilliantly for you and save you some time and money. However, premade covers are “off the rack”, which means that some details may not quite match your story (e.g. hair color, exact type of magic). There’s also always the potential worry that you might select a premade cover you like that fits your story without realizing it’s created to market to a different subgenre (e.g. if you’re new to publishing and you accidentally purchase an urban fantasy cover for your epic fantasy because the main character looks right and has a similar magic). This is more common than you might expect, and I’m always happy to answer questions about potential premade covers you’re interested in.
With the exception of the story questionnaire though, the design process for build your own premade covers and premade covers is really the same. I create build your own custom premade covers the same way I create my own premades by researching the subgenre market, brainstorming concepts that nail the design language of that subgenre, and then fleshing out a concept into an eye-catching cover that sends the right cues to catch the eyes of the right readers.
Just like my premade covers, only minor and less time-consuming changes can be requested for build your own premades (e.g. font type/color), but that usually doesn’t matter since the cover was designed based on your questionnaire so the details should already match what you need.
And yes, I know it can be scary purchasing a cover sight unseen, but I promise that all build your own premade covers will be up to the standard quality of my usual premade covers, so if you love my premades but they just don’t work for your story, a build your own premade might be just what you need.
Just go here and submit the form. It’s that simple.
There are three big things a book cover needs to be successful, and I spend a lot of time focusing on them when I create a book cover design. You can read about them here.
No problem. Add print or audiobook here.
Series continuations can be purchased at the current price for a build your own premade or custom cover.
Once you’ve reserved your calendar slot, you’ll be sent my standard contract to sign (you can read it here) and a questionnaire to fill out giving me some information about your story so I can get familiar with the kind of cover you might need and start brainstorming design options.
After you’ve signed your contract and submitted the questionnaire, I’ll review your answers to make sure we’re a good match. (I don’t do chick lit covers for example, and it would be a disservice to you to accept money for a genre I can’t do justice.) Once I’m sure I can make a great cover for you (usually 2-3 days after you sign and submit), I’ll sign the contract myself and you’ll get an e-mail greenlighting the project!
After that, you just have to wait until I contact you with follow-up questions as we get closer to your calendar slot.
After you’ve reserved your calendar slot, you’ll be sent my standard contract to sign (you can read it here) and a questionnaire to fill out about your story, so I can identify how to best market your book.
Once you’ve signed the contact and submitted the questionnaire, you can take it easy and relax. Your part is done, and I’ll be in touch if I have any questions and to let you know as I progress from one step to the next in the design process for your build your own premade.
For questions, please contact me here. Social media messages aren’t as reliable for getting quick answers.