Uncovering the Cover

The Great Cover Artist Search continues. Or resumes, to be more accurate about it.

I started a month or more ago and then other tasks took priority, but now, getting the cover designed is one of the last things I need to do. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but this task is harder, or at least more time-consuming, than it might seem.

First off, where do you find cover artists in the first place? I’ve found four good sources:

  1. Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer web site. Every month, Joel shows all the ebook covers submitted to him for review, and critiques some. That’s a big help in a lot of ways.
  2. Other authors’ web sites. J. A. Konrath and Joanna Penn have named the cover artists they’ve used, for example.
  3. Mark Coker’s list of book designers and cover artists on Smashwords.
  4. The “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.com. Sometimes the authors will name their cover artist in the front matter of their e-books.

Some people have recommended fiverr.com but that seems like a starving-artists hangout. This is too important to go cheap.

So, that gets me a list to start from, but it’s not complete because often all I have is a name, not a web site–or blog, or Flickr page–address. So I have to look that up.

Once I’ve got a place to look at, there’s the artist’s portfolio to look through. You’d think that would be easy. The smart ones have a portfolio page. Sometimes they even sort their work by genre. That’s helpful. If nothing else, it reveals how big the market for Romance covers is! This step alone weeds out easily two-thirds of the candidates.

Next:Do I like their work? Joel’s critiques have been really valuable here, teaching me what to look for, like an artist that uses a variety of type faces rather than the same ones over and over. Is the type readable against the background? Some are, some aren’t. What about color contrasts? Red type against a black background is often hard to read. Small type will disappear in a thumbnail image. Does the artist seem to know that? This, too, cuts out a lot of candidates.

Fourth, how can I contact the artist? What? No contact information? That cuts out a few more.

Now I can look at prices and other factors.

  • How many revisions will the artist do? Some allow just a few, some “unlimited.”
  • What’s their turn-around time? Most say a few days to a week.
  • Will they get the image(s) to be used or do I have to provide it/them? Is that included in the price or is it an additional fee?
  • Do they do POD covers as well as ebooks?
  • And of course, what do they charge and how and when do they want to be paid?

So, that process has gotten me from 53 candidates down to 10. Now I’m into the lather-rinse-repeat cycle of looking at portfolios, services, and prices.

Decisions, decisions.

Got any recommendations?

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