Something major when it comes to self-publishing is cover design. I’m not going to repeat that age-old adage “never judge a book by its cover—except people absolutely do” because by this point, y’all probably know that. The cover plays a HUGE factor in drawing in new readers, so it’s gotta be bomb. Spot-on. Gorgeous. It has got to convey tone, genre, overall theme of the book (or something like that, right?). I took so. Much. Time. Choosing my cover designer. Many of those designers are expensive, and I didn’t want to choose someone who just didn’t get my story.
Tips that I’m keeping in mind when I choose a cover designer in the future:
1. Always look over their portfolio I’m sure many of you do this already, because when you’re going to book someone for your cover, you want to see the kind of work they produce. That’s great. And it’s always great to see what exactly they can do—what you can ask them to do. Some designers do heavy photoshop, some do illustrations, so it’s best to get a feel for everyone’s technique.
2. Talk with them BEFORE paying! This is a big one for me. I need to know that who I’m paying really understands the vibe of my story, has worked in this genre before, has experience with this sort of cover that I’m expecting. If they don’t want to speak to you without some sort of payment, to me this is a big red flag!
3. Check their revisions policy For me, I like working with a cover designer who offers unlimited revisions. If their motto is “I’m not happy until you’re happy” THAT’S A GREAT SIGN! It means that if you’re so indecisive and want it perfect, they’re 100% willing to get it to that place with you! Honestly, I’d never work with a designer who only offered a limited amount of revisions and then up the cost. To me, that screams “I’ll help you only as long as I feel like it”. And of course, I’m not saying ask your designer for a hundred fixes—that would be horrible. But the designers who are there for you, ready to fix all of the changes you want to see, that’s awesome. And a huge plus, in my opinion!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Seriously. I’m paying the bucks—I get what you want. Don’t back down. (I made the mistake of not pushing on a few things, but I ended up fixing them myself, so it wasn’t too much of a problem.)
5. Always get a contract! Honesty hour. The cover designer I worked with didn’t offer me a contract, but that’s definitely something I’m requiring for MYSELF going forward. Contracts protect your money and your time and really your rights. And plus with a contract, you’ve got a set timeline, a set pricing, and a set terms that both you and your designer can abide by. I didn’t even realize a contract was important until my proofreader had me sign one, and I just felt so safe in that collaboration.
5b. Make sure you understand that contract Don’t sign anything you don’t understand, plain and simple!
On number 3, I talk about pushing for what you want. There were a things on my cover that I wasn’t too pleased about, but my designer did not want to change them. If you’re like me and don’t want to push the envelope, you might just make these revisions yourself. I did, but it cost me a bit for the membership (I used PicMonkey so it wasn’t too bad) and it also cost me time. I’m not a cover designer, so I tried very painstakingly to make sure everything looked okay. But if you don’t feel confident in making those revisions yourself, remember that you are the one paying for this service. This is your book cover. You can have them do whatever you want with it—and if they’re not comfortable with it, maybe they’d be willing to knock down the price. Don’t let anyone push you around!
In total transparency, my experience with my CD wasn’t as great as I’d been hoping. I loved my concept and product, but on the professional end of things, there were so many hiccups and problems. So next time I want to make sure I have a conversation with my designer about my story, my vision. Ask them of their ideas, if they’d be a good fit, if they’ve worked in this genre before. REMEMBER! They’re designing it for you, but you are the one buying the product. YOU are the one making the purchase. This is going to be YOURS, not theirs, so you have every right to interview them before booking. If they’re not comfortable with a conversation before payment, it might be a sign to move on!
My YA Romance, WHAT ARE FRIENDS FOR?, debuts January 14, 2020! It's available for preorder NOW on both ebook and paperback.
Apple (it has a few books by another Sarah Sutton listed. Ignore them, though I'm sure they're super cool. If anyone knows how to fix this, hit me up): https://books.apple.com/cr/book/what-are-friends-for/id1486051510?l=en