What a Book Cover Designer Does for You


1106 Design

September 09, 2020

Indie authors understand that good cover design matters. Yet many don’t understand what professional book designers bring to the process; they don’t know what a book cover designer does.

In short, a book cover designer will:

  • Research your book’s genre
  • Research the target market for your book
  • Produce three distinct cover design concepts
  • Engage you in a collaborative and iterative process to finalize the design
  • Produce the final files for print and eBook

In this blog post, we dispel the myths, clarify the role of the book designer, and provide you with tips for finding the best book cover designer.

Research Genres

One would think that book designers are born knowing the best cover designs for every book. In fact, their knowledge and expertise come with a lot of training and research. Did you know that professional book designers spend time researching other books in your book’s genre (category) before they begin the design process?

The book designer’s goal is to ensure your book’s design fits in as well as stands out. If that sounds like a contradiction, it is. Your book must look like it belongs with others of its type, but it also must look better and more interesting so that people will buy your book and not someone else’s.

Research Target Markets

There is no such thing as a book that will appeal to “everyone.”

A cover designer will research your target market so that the design will appeal to the people most likely to read your book. Demographics such as age, income level and profession must be considered in the design.

That’s the science part of cover design. Next comes the art part.

Produce Cover Design Concepts

While it’s true that a designer will start by quickly sketching the first ideas that come to mind, an experienced designer will almost always reject these first ideas and strive for something better and unique.

A good designer will find the right images, combine them in creative and eye-catching ways, and show you at least three very different designs (cover concepts) to give you a clear choice.

Engage the Author in a Collaborative Process

Once you select a cover design from the concepts, the designer will collaborate with you on changes until the cover is everything you imagined.

If you look at the samples of low-cost cover designers critically, you can see that they have used a “cookie-cutter” approach—changing a photo here, a typeface there, but not offering the client a creative new look. You can see examples of this approach, used by some popular self-publishing companies; in a previous blog post What Is the Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

Produce Digital Files That Work

After the author has signed off on the finished design, the cover design is back into “science” mode — creating the digital file correctly for printing so that what you see is what you actually get from your printer.

All of this takes between twenty and thirty hours.

How to Find a Book Cover Designer

To find a designer, it’s useful, first of all, to review the websites of various designers to determine the styles you like and those you don’t. However, don’t reject a designer if the samples aren’t in the same genre as your book. Look for the underlying design skill, which a competent designer can apply to any topic.

Second, ask your friends if they know a skilled designer. Join author groups on social media and ask for recommendations.

Third, attend local publishing group meetings (in-person and virtual!), where you have the opportunity to meet several designers. Chances are, if you like each other in a social setting, you’ll be successful working together as well.

What to Look for in a Book Designer

When you have identified a few designers whose work you like, detail your project to them in writing and ask for a quote. Designers who ask a lot of questions are probably more experienced than those who ask few or no questions. Make sure they respond with:

  • the number of concepts included in the price
  • the number of hours of revisions that are included
  • confirmation that you will own the rights to the cover design, as well as any licensed images that may be used.

Pay attention to how long it takes the designer to respond to your request for a quote. Slow response times may mean slow service times later.

Most of all, avoid designers who are impatient with your questions. Design is a service business, and you’re entitled to a reasonable amount of the designer’s time as the project proceeds.

Comparing Quotes from Book Designers

Have you received a quote from someone who promises to design your book cover for very little in comparison to other designers?

A price that sounds too good to be true can mean that the designer is planning to spend very little time on your design. When comparing designer quotes, be sure to ask how many concepts the designer will present for the price quoted. In the “good old days,” offering multiple concepts was standard procedure. Now, many designers offer just one concept and revise from there. This takes less time, of course, but you won’t have an opportunity to decide which design is more eye-catching.

Be Nice!

One final note: when a designer follows up with you after sending you a quote, please don’t ignore his or her communication. Even if you chose to hire someone else, it’s nice to acknowledge the time and effort that was spent in developing a quote, and the designer can learn from your reasons to adjust their business practices and quotes accordingly.

Have you finished a book? Intrigued with self-publishing? Contact 1106 Design to discuss how to prepare your book for publishing.

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