They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But really, people do judge books by their covers. A great cover can sell a book. It’s important to have well done cover art. Authors who are traditionally published usually have it done for them by the publisher. But a self-published author has to commission the artwork from an artist themselves and pay for it. Or maybe some authors do it themselves. So, how did we get it done?
So far that’s a secret. The artist who has agreed to work on my cover art doesn’t want anyone to know until the novels are out. Stay tuned!
I spent a lot of time researching this, and months browsing DeviantArt and other sites for a quality freelance artist. I finally settled on Mike Nash. He had an impressive portfolio, had done artwork for Star Wars and Magic the Gathering, and he was accepting new commissions. It’s more expensive to go with an artist like Mike, but I loved the result and I believe that you generally get what you pay for. The cheaper options often look very much like cheaper options.
I felt pretty vindicated when I got an “excellent cover” compliment from Brandon Sanderson at WorldCon.
I bought pre-made cover art from an online shop that specializes in book covers. Not the most glamorous way to go, but if you can get lucky and find a good fit for your story there’s nothing wrong with that.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any cover art, yet.
Great question because there is a lot of talk about cover art. Unfortunately, a lot of it is really bad.
In my case, for my first novel, I did it myself. I knew exactly what I wanted – an iconic picture of US infantryman getting out of a “Huey” helicopter in the jungles of Vietnam – and quickly found a high res photo in the Gov’t archives.
For my upcoming novel, which I have not yet revealed, I sort of had an idea for what I wanted and scanned a lot of book cover designer’s websites. At long last I found a cover I loved. Totally in love. Thought it was brilliant. I wrote the creator and told her what I was after, and sent her $50 for the first pass.
As luck would have it, when the proof came in, one of my daughters was sitting beside me. She is an award-winning artist and has read the novel and the sequel. I called her over to the computer before I opened it. I told her this was a big moment in my writing career. “Just open it, dad.” When I did, we both stared in silence. Finally, I said, “Holy crap.” She said, “That’s terrible.”
After that, I spent a lot of time on DeviantArt looking for what I wanted, and eventually I found it. I really liked it, so this time I wrote the artist and sent him a contract. We agreed on a price, and I secured the art I wanted.
Going forward, I think I’m just going to keep going back to DA and finding cool stuff from up and coming artists. It means my covers won’t be similar, but it will be fun to get aspiring artists a bit more publicity.
As of writing this answer, I haven’t yet, but I really can’t keep putting it off much longer.
I hired an artist whose work I liked.
Initially, I purchased a pre-made cover that fit the book perfectly. For the sequel, I commissioned the same artist to create a similar cover as the first. This was an artist I found through another writer friend of mine.
For the latest set of covers I’ve commissioned, I found another writer friend whose covers I admired and visited the artist’s website to ask some questions and request a few covers. To make the search a little easier, I compiled a list of resources for writers looking for cover artists.
In the future, I plan to use artists I know personally to draw up my covers and use my own photography as the covers I need. I’m working very hard on that, actually.
For Nowhere to Hide I created the cover art myself with a bit of Photoshop magic. I took a photo my father had taken of an old apartment building, darkened it, played with the colors to make the moonlit sky appear red, and then I transferred in a picture of a guy in a trench coat that I’d turned into a black silhouette with red eyes. Add the title and author bits and ta-da! Mind you it is far from the most professional-looking cover, but I wasn’t looking to spend any money since I didn’t know if the book would ever sell a single copy, therefore I was determined to create it myself. Overall I’m actually quite pleased with it, although I do know that it doesn’t quite look right in previews and thumbnails. With all that in mind, I’m definitely seriously considering commissioning an artist for The Other World.
All my covers are produced through cooperation between me (concept) and my friend D. D. Phillips (art). I provide all the reference material I can find, and recently have begun compositing mock-ups for her to better see what I mean — since we’ve had communication issues before, with me not knowing some terms or having a hard time expressing just what I want. I’m really nitpicky. Thankfully she’s in another state so can’t just teleport over here and strangle me! We’re working on the Book 4 cover now.
I said to my editor, I want something dark and simple. A week later he sent me an image and I said, yep, that’s it.
I actually have a cover for my first novel, Knights of Ariadne, even though the first draft isn’t done. It’s a simple story, actually. Another author decided to whip up a cover for me, and what she showed me was great. In fact, it’s pretty much what I was imagining in my mind for the cover. Great minds think alike! She’s also an INTJ, which is how she discovered this blog. Once I’ve written enough, as in finished the first draft and edited it, I’ll probably reveal the cover. Well, we’ll see about the timing. Must write it!
How about you?
If you’ve published a book or are going to publish a book, how did you get your cover done? Let us know in the comments below.