3 Steps to the Perfect Book Designer


1106 Design

January 25, 2010

Many clients tell us that they found the process of finding a designer very difficult and frustrating. Not for lack of options on the internet and elsewhere, but due to the overwhelming amount of information available. So how do you determine whether a designer is qualified or if they will provide good customer service?

1. Start with your network

  • Ask friends and colleagues in the publishing industry who they would recommend (and who they would not recommend).
  • Talk to designers at meetings such as your local chapter of the Independent Book Publishers Association (formerly PMA). If you feel comfortable talking to your designer in a casual setting, it’s likely that you’ll work well together later.
  • Gather printed book covers that appeal to you. Oftentimes the designer is listed on the copyright page or in the acknowledgments.
  • Explore designer websites. Search for book designers. View information about their services and samples of their best work.
  • When evaluating website samples, try to look through the subject matter and evaluate the underlying design skill. A qualified designer can design a book on any subject, so don’t disqualify someone simply because their samples don’t happen to match your subject matter.
  • Beware of friends and relatives who claim to be artists. They may not understand the complexities of preparing a book cover for print. If you do want to use a friend’s painting or sketch, take their artwork to a cover designer who knows how to integrate it with a title for maximum impact.

2. Request proposals

  • Once you have narrowed the field to a few qualified designers, call or write to request a proposal.
  • Be prepared to discuss the trim size of your book, the approximate number of pages, the subject matter and your wishes for the cover. Do you want a custom illustration on the cover? A royalty free stock photo? Or will you provide artwork? Do you need printed books in time for a scheduled event? Your designer needs this information to give you an accurate price.
  • Note how long it takes the designer to respond to your request. Slow response time may indicate slow service later.
  • You should receive a specific, written quote that clearly lists the services that are included in the price. The estimate should also specify the amount of revision time that is included, and the hourly rate for revisions that exceed that time.
  • Ask questions about the quote. A professional designer will be happy to explain anything that is unclear and will not become impatient with you. We want the job to go smoothly, too!

3. Choose a designer who offers:

  • Book cover design experience. A graphic designer experienced in ads or brochures may not understand the technicalities of book cover design. Book designers work with clients all over the country and the world, so it’s not necessary to choose between location and experience.
  • Quality of work. Are the covers comparable in quality to bestsellers at Amazon.com?
  • Professionalism in communications with you.
  • Interest in your subject matter and in your publishing goals.
  • Price is always a consideration, but should never be the primary one. Quality design takes a lot of time and interaction between designer and client. Be suspicious of low bids. Instead of a unique, creative cover, you may wind up with a template that has been used hundreds of times before.

In the next post, I’ll discuss what your designer needs from you to help the project go smoothly.
What do you want to know? What topics should we explore together? How can we help you along your publishing journey? Everyone here at 1106 Design wants to help. Post your comment here or email usus using the Contact Us page.

Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design

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