Cover Artists: Tips On Finding The One

Cover Artists: Tips On Finding The One

I am ecstatic to announce I’ve found a cover artist! After reaching out to almost twenty (maybe more) artists, I have finally found the one. Benlin Alexander.

He’s experienced, has a great portfolio and is totally invested in bringing my characters to life.

But before finding Benlin, I had to do several rounds of– what felt like–cover artist speed-dating. There were even a few times I came close to sealing the deal, only to change my mind at the last minute, deciding to listen to my gut.

Needless to say, this was a lot of extra stress and, in hindsight; the process could have been easier if I had done a few things differently. Still, I learned from my mistakes and I want you to, as well. Here are some tips on finding the right cover artist.

1) Ask yourself if you want an illustrated cover or a photographed cover

Knowing if you want an illustrated cover or to use photographs, helps to narrow down the list of candidates. If you googled “cover artists” right now, you’d be overwhelmed with the results.  Setting up specifications in advance makes the selection process easier.

Now, you’re probably wondering how to pick between the two? I feel your pain. I’ve seen amazing covers done in both mediums. What it really comes down to is the skill of the artist but there are a few other factors to consider, as well.

If you’re writing a middle grade or lower young adult novel, chances are you’ll do best with an illustrated cover. Your target audience is probably going to range from eight to seventeen (general MG/YA age range because kids read up), so, you’re going to want a design that gets the young ones grabbing at your book.

You need to think about pricing, too. Illustrated covers are more expensive than photographs. Premade photo covers are the cheapest. Custom photo covers are more expensive but, also, more original because you get to actually talk with the artist about what you want. A lot of artists who make photo covers use stock images. Nothing’s wrong with that, as long as they disguise it well. The alternative option is to hire models. Just remember that can get pricey.

2) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

I briefly commented on this above. What I’m saying here is that you should talk to several artists, not just one. Narrowing down your list of options is key and even ranking the artists in terms of who you want the most is fine. However, don’t shrink your list until there are only a few candidates left.

Sometimes artists are too busy to take on new projects, they’re not interested in your particular project, they may have a personal leave or they may be out of your price range. Basically, there are a lot of reasons they could tell you “no.” Therefore, you need to keep your options open and plan to contact many artists.

It may feel kind of like “cheating” but at this stage in the process you haven’t made any commitments and neither have they. You’re just trying to get the best deal and if you have to turn a few artists down, I think they’ll appreciate your honesty vs. dragging them along.

3) Reach Out to Other Authors for Advice

I’m not suggesting you message random authors. Random DMs are always a bad idea. Instead, if it’s an author you don’t know personally, do a little digging and see who designed their covers. Of course, you want to make sure you actually like their covers before doing this part.

If you have a group of authors you know personally and can turn to, this is the time!!! Ask them any and everything about finding the right cover artist. Inquire into what sources they used.

I have several friends who are authors, too, but there are three that I call my “Author Trifecta.” I turn to these ladies for almost any writing or publishing question I have. They have several more years’ experience than me, so, their advice is solid. Actually, during my search for the right artist, they helped me snuff out a few who were trying to get over on me or were giving me a bad deal.

4) Do Your Own Sketches First

When you come with a plan, the process itself is much easier. As the author, you know your book better than anyone and it’s likely you have a few ideas racing around anyway, so, why not put them on paper? They don’t even have to be good. They just need to convey a concept or mood.

Now, my designer is actually going to read my book before doing the design because he wants to fully understand the story prior to starting. However, I don’t know if this is the norm with most cover artists. I think most just go based on what the author says, what’s trending currently or what they’ve seen in the industry.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with this route. All I’m saying is that every author wants that personal touch to their cover. Because each artist is different with a different schedule, it’s really up to us authors to give them as much as we can about our story in order for them to draw it out.

5) Have A Completion Date In Mind

Artists need to know when you want the cover done by because they’re likely to have several projects at once. Having a deadline in mind not only makes the artist more likely to accept the job but it actually ensures your work will get done in a reasonable amount of time.

Imagine if you were a cover artist and a client said you could complete their cover whenever. If you have several other deadlines and clients, aren’t you more likely to push the no-deadline project to the back burner?

Make sense, right?

Well, that’s all I have right now. Honestly, I could talk about this in even more detail than I am now but the post is getting long.

If you have any extra tips or questions, let me know in the comments or message me. I’m always up for some conversation.

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