Imagine this scenario. You’ve finished the first draft of your book. In anticipation of your book launch, you’ve already put together your book marketing budget. Now all you need to do is hire the experts who will work with you, helping you turn your dream into a masterpiece others will love and rave about.

However, you have a big problem. You already know your book will be judged by its cover, especially by readers who don’t know you and the hard work you’ve poured into writing your life work. It’s time find a book cover designer, but what should you look for when you’re just starting out?

This year, I’ve run into the same issue. It’s time to hire a new cover designer and I must admit, I’m reluctant to turn my hard work over to just anyone for a gorgeous visual representation. Here are the steps I recommend taking before you hire your first, or even, your next cover designer.

what to look for when hiring a book cover designer

Browse for ideas at your local bookstore

Before you start looking for a cover designer, it’s helpful to have some idea about what you want to accomplish. For inspiration, I recommend heading to your local bookstore and hitting the shelves (yes, I’m giving you another excuse to head to the bookstore). While you walk through the bookstore, pay close attention to the book covers, especially the ones for bestselling books.

You may notice some book covers jump out, leaving your fingers itching to buy the book regardless of the storyline or genre. You’ll notice others use graphics from the movie or television series. Each book will have it’s oddity. Some will have gigantic text so you know exactly what the title of the book is and the name of the author. Some non-fiction books will have photography and visuals while some fiction books will just have text and a colored background.

Pay close attention to the cover design of books in your genre and make a list. Write down what you like and what you don’t like about those covers, including the front, the spine, and even the back cover.

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Check out what’s trending on the ‘gram

Have you ever subscribed to a book box and followed their hashtag on Instagram to see what their readers are posting? Or maybe you follow some popular book bloggers and enjoy seeing what kinds of books they enjoy reading. Browse through some of those posts and check out what people are saying about the book covers, that should help you on your quest for the best book cover design in the galaxy.

Here are a few accounts to give you ideas:

Gathering your thoughts

Once you have ideas, it’s time to put your thoughts together. Write up a document with elements you’d like incorporated into your book cover design. Be sure to include links to a few book covers you believe are stellar and would like your book to be similar to. Or at least some of the elements, I understand that your book has to be uniquely yours.

When you’re putting together ideas for your book designer you should also include specs for your print book, this includes the total number of pages, whether your book will use cream or white pages and if the cover will be glossy or matte. You’ll also want to include the print size. If you’re only getting an ebook cover design you can omit those details, however, I believe a print book cover is imperative.

In all honestly, I generally only read paperback books, even if it means hauling them everywhere with me and breaking bags because they are full of books. It’s problem.

Scour the internet for a book cover designer

Finally, it’s time to find a book cover designer, because now you know what you actually want and need for your book cover.

Browse through the portfolio of your designer. Chances are if you don’t like anything they have designed, you probably won’t like what they create for you.

Find out about their process. Most designers are happy to chat and make you feel confident about timing, pricing, and rounds of revisions. While many designers offer unlimited rounds of revisions, keep in mind that they are a professional and there is a reason they design the way they do.

Ask if they are willing to promote you. While this is not mandatory, I often feel more comfortable working with a designer who has an online presence both via their website and social media. If I know they are going to post their new cover design and get excited about it, it gives me another reason to work with them.

It’s great to work with a designer who specifically works with self-published authors and can offer other design elements, such as banners, bookmarks, and other social media graphics. If you end up working with a design agency, chances are they aren’t as specialized as a cover designer who is used to working within the ebook and print design specifications.

Regardless, it’s much easier today to get an excellent book cover design. There are the professionals whose work I adore and who I recommend for the job. You’ll notice the budget varies which allows you to find someone to work within your self-publishing budget.

Recommended Book Cover Designers

Joshua Jadon. One of the first book cover designers I ever discovered online was Joshua Jadon. He does amazing work and has a varied portfolio of both fiction and non-fiction books. http://joshuajadon.com/

The Thatchery. Every single cover she creates has a wow factor, but I particularly love the way she makes a book series cohesive. You can look at all the books in the 1929 Series by M.L. Gardner and know that they simply belong together. I also adore the covers she’s done for Ellen Smith, another author I’m a huge fan of. https://www.thethatchery.com/

Wicked Book Covers. I connected with this designer via Twitter and enjoyed browsing through her portfolio. She offers pre-made designs you can purchase, or request your custom cover design. What makes her unique is that she’ll create custom 3D models for you. https://www.wickedbookcovers.com/

Book Cover for You is all about professional service and fast delivery. You’ll receive your book cover within 2-3 days, which is perfect for authors in a rush. Additionally, if you choose the right package she’ll throw in bookmarks at no additional cost. http://bookcoverforyou.com/

Curiouser Editing. Sometimes you need custom illustrations, whether for your children’s book or something else. The team over at Curiouser Editing will ensure you get the designs you need and work with the right illustrator who can bring your visions to life: https://www.curiouserediting.com/what-we-do/

EPOCH Studios. A little bird tells me that EPOCH Studios will be offering cover designs in the future. Visit their website to get on their email list and see what characters they’ve already brought to life. http://www.worldsofepoch.com/

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What tips or resources do you recommend for book cover design?

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