Special guest post about finding your Cover Designer from Damon Freeman, with Damonza

Unfortunately for you, dear self-published author, it’s often the case that the cover maketh the book. Perhaps not maketh. Maybe enhanceth. HOT AUTHOR TIP: adding ‘eth’ to the ends of words makes them instantly fancier. I bet you’re glad you’ve readeth this article now, huh?

Anyways, the headline here is that your book’s cover matters. It’s the metaphorical handshake that your tome offers to potential readers – a strong first impression can get them intrigued and have them wanting more, a weak one will have them turning away and whispering to each other while looking over their shoulders. You don’t want to be that book.

You’re a writer, not a designer. It’s not expected that you’ll have the talent and skillset to produce a cover that would look comfortable on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. You need professional help. So how do you go about finding a high quality book cover designer? Well it’s your lucky day— here are 5 tips that, when combined in chronological order, will allow you to do exactly that.

Find your source

There are two main avenues that are generally utilised when hunting for a cover designer – Google and your personal network. Finding a designer via a referral from a friend, a family member or an acquaintance is great; you have the comfort of knowing they’ve done good work before as you’ve got a trusted first-hand source. But if you don’t have a personal referral there’s no need to fret. While more of a process, sorting the Googled strong from the Googled weak is far from impossible. First you’ll need to work out…

Are they legitimate?

A quick Google of ‘book cover designer’ will come up with a wealth of answers. At the time of writing, in fact, that wealth was approximately 30 million. But it’s fair to say that many of those offerings aren’t particularly first rate. A few things to look for in a legitimate and high-quality designer are:

  • History: Have they been around for a while? Designers and design firms who aren’t up to scratch tend to come and go fairly quickly.
  • Image sourcing and licencing: Do they only use legitimately sourced images with proper licencing?
  • Value: Globalisation has led to an influx of cheap labour over the internet. Someone in a third-world country can work for cheaper than someone in a first world country – that’s just fact. What you’re looking for is value. A good price for good work. Don’t be tempted by cover designers selling their services for chicken feed as you’ll inevitably be disappointed.

Check out their portfolio

They might be a legitimate freelancer or business, but are they any good? You’ve got to like their stuff, but you also need to be sure that they can design a cover for the type of book that you’ll be publishing. Look for beauty in their portfolio but also variety, as it indicates that the designer is capable of producing whatever is asked of them. If all of their covers feature footsteps in the sand or a silhouetted figure at sunset, beware.

Look for reviews

So if you’re happy that they’re a legit designer or firm with a portfolio that just tickles you pink, the next step is to check what others think of them. A quick Google should offer up good insight into their previous work. Don’t just look at the reviews on the designer’s own site, as they’re never going to offer up those that are warts and all. ‘I’d rather drag my face through broken glass than use Jenny’s Cover Design* again’ doesn’t scream PUBLISH ME.

*Any resemblance to a real life Jenny’s Cover Design is purely coincidental.

Shoot them a message

Happy with all of the above? Let’s send this fine specimen a message. This final tip is no less important than the others, as it allows you to see what the designer is like to deal with one-on-one. A high-quality designer will offer the following:

  • A prompt response to the communication
  • A reasonable (and guaranteed) turnaround time
  • Flexibility when it comes to any changes of heart (within reason)
  • Just good, old-fashioned customer service

Your cover will enhanceth your book, and a wise choice of cover designer will enhanceth the living heck out of your cover. Invest the time in finding a high-quality professional, dear self-published authors, and it’s guaranteed that the investment will be paid back in style.

Damon Freeman is the founder and creative director behind Damonza, a book cover design company that has provided services to thousands of authors including numerous New York Times bestsellers.