In this last post in this series I’ll cover the third cover design mistake often made by self-publishers.
Of all the cover design mistakes, this one is probably the most damaging to your sales goals.
Cover Design Mistake #3: Designing a cover with a poor illustration. This mistake happens when an author hires an illustrator before hiring a cover designer.
Sometimes a well-meaning author will approach a book designer with illustrations they acquired. Sometimes these illustrations were created by a beginner, or by a friend of the author who isn’t a professional illustrator and who doesn’t know how to prepare artwork for printing. In almost every case, the author has unwittingly tied the designer’s hands, because once illustrations have been purchased, whether they are competent drawings or not, we stuck using them.
Your cover designer is trained as an “art director” and as a “creative director.” This mean that we can brainstorm with you to decide what to put on the cover, what style of art is most appropriate, what colors to use, etc. Then, and only then should the search for an illustrator begin. We can also help you evaluate the skills of various illustrators to determine which one can best bring the cover to life. (Many folks, especially on freelance design sites, call themselves illustrators, but a closer look at their work reveals that their draftsmanship skills are severely lacking.)
See the self-published book below and the bestseller beside it. See the difference?
In the cover at left, someone apparently thought a free clip-art image was sufficient for a cover design. While the title isn’t bad, and the subtitle alludes to requesting information (411), it’s unclear what a saxophone has to do with money management. The type is just awful, as are the flat colors. A walk through the money management section of any bookstore will reveal that this cover simply does not make the grade.
The cover at right shows the power of a dramatic professional illustration coupled with light-on-dark contrast and effective typography. Together these elements immediately draw the eye and compel the prospective buyer to find out more about this book.
Bottom line: Hiring a book designer first, and then hiring an illustrator, will result in a much better book cover than choosing a cover graphic without the benefit of professional advice.
Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design