You’ve sent your manuscript off to the editor and now you’re ready to launch into designing your book cover. As you fire up your computer you remember “I’m not a graphic designer!” So now what? Well, if you’re not best friends with a cover guru, you have a few other options:
Ask Fellow Writers for Recommendations
This is my personal favorite because if you have spent any time getting to know authors who write in your genre there’s a good chance that you’ve taken note of their fantastic covers. Don’t be afraid to ask other writers about their designer. Most writers are flattered that you have “Book Cover Envy” and will be more than happy to put you in touch with a cover art designer. But a word of caution: Though you want to look like you fit into the Zombie genre by using dark colors and decomposing fonts, you still need a unique design that sets your novel apart from other living dead stories. Be careful to look through the recommended artist’s portfolio before commissioning a design. If all her covers look like variations of your friend’s dust jacket you may want to pass up that designer.
Use an Online Graphic Design Site
Many websites offer book cover creation but the two I’ve personally used are 99designs and DesignCrowd. Both companies offer packages that range from $200.00 to $1,200.00. With each graduated package you gain access to higher rated designers and receive a larger number of submissions. The key to getting the most out of this service is to be very descriptive when filling out the job’s information. Then as each sample rolls in don’t be afraid to tell the designer what isn’t working for you. Also, if for some reason you can’t find a design you love, both sites offer a 100% money back guarantee.
As with any online service, beware of designers who try to pull you away from the website’s payment system. Unlike recommendations from fellow writers, these seemingly good-hearted artists– who are offering to design your cover for half the price if you will pay them directly–are usually too good to be true.
Become a Graphic Designer
This option is the most time consuming but some writers find they enjoy having creative control over their cover art. Some purchase stock photos while others set up their own photo shoot using cover models. Either way you will need to be comfortable with a quality graphic art program and this may mean picking up a few college credits. But hey, you wanted to take a refresher in creative writing anyway so why not do both?
No matter which route you choose make sure you do your best to represent the world you created. After all, the job of the cover is to make the reader curious about the pages inside and if your visual vibe is boring and unprofessional most readers will never crack the spine.