Cover artwork

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indianroads

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So, I'm about a third of the way through my first draft of the first of what will be a series of five novels. My story is dystopian scifi, with series 1,3, and 5 earthside, and 2 & 4 will be in space.

On my first two self published novels I just went to shutterstock, found an image and then modified it in Photoshop and was satisfied with the result. On the upcoming series I want to go with something more professional - so I'm looking for advice and recommendations on paid artists that will create covers for me. If it matters, I intend to self publish on Amazon.

I'd love to hear some advice, and success / horror stories as well. Artist recommendations would be great too.
 

gtbun

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This is a carbon copy of my reply to the same query elsewhere:

@indianroads, I'm actually ending my association with AbsoluteWrite in the new year, so if you want to follow up with me you might want to do that by email ([email protected]), though I probably would have advised you do that anyway. I don't know what other information you're going to receive, I can only give you my experience as a professional book designer.

Firstly, congratulations for deciding to pursue professional services for book design, it's not a decision many self-publishers make, much to their detriment. Secondly, $1000 is a good starting budget, so thanks for making that consideration. It might not reflect that actual fees demanded by professionals, but it is an amount that is likely to bring a professional designer onto the project in a low-budget capacity. Regarding your queries about price, keep in mind the tenet that "you get what you pay for". If you go cheap, look for free work, or do it yourself, you end up with a worthless product. If you pay fair rates, you will receive a valuable product. You've not made it clear whether you're just looking at covers or planning to have the entire book/series laid out professionally. Price ranges aren't necessarily significant, as your budget is the important thing. But for five book covers a professional would likely charge around $2000 at the very least, not taking into account low-budget projects. Below that, you're getting an unprofessional product. The price difference tends to represent the designer's proficiency, and it is usually illustrators and people out to make a quick buck who charge less than professional prices for covers because, simply, they're not qualified.

So, with that in mind, you want to find a professional book designer. A simple graphic designer won't do it, and anything else is just going to produce sub-par work. There seems a lot of onus on this forum, on the rare occasions that authors commission professionals, on artists and traditional artwork. While some artists and illustrators can produce beautiful covers, generally - especially the ones within your budget - won't be up to it thanks to a lack of contextual understanding of typography and its implementation. Generally, the artist/illustrator and designer work together to produce a book cover and, more often than not, that artist or illustrator is commissioned by the designer through a brief from the author. Things to avoid, especially keeping in mind that you're look at a series, are pre-made, with a couple of exceptions they're awful and even good covers tend to be dispirate and not suitable for building a series. I would also suggest, given price and the breadth of the project, looking at sole-traders with whom you can develop a relationship so as to ensure the consistent quality across the series.

That you're self-publishing doesn't matter. A professional book designer will be able to make the considerations that come with displaying on Amazon. You might, however, find issues with this fact with unprofessional book cover providers.

As to whether it's worth it: it really is. Good design pays for itself. If that's not enough, there are studies that demonstrate this: The Value of Design Fact-finder, Design Delivers for Business, and Leading Business by Design. Each demonstrates that prioritising design results in more sales, higher turnover, and increased profits. Sub-par design has little or no positive effect and often a negative one. This is especially true for book covers and interiors, which go a long way to actually selling the book.

Book design is not an easy discipline, so much so that graphic designers without a grounding in book design really struggle with it. The most important thing is that you take on a professional book designer rather than looking at unprofessional options or do it yourself.
 

rwm4768

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I've had a great experience with Deranged Doctor Design. So far, I've had seven covers done by them, and I've loved all of them. They are also quite affordable (less than $300 for both e-book and print covers). For an additional $30, they'll design social media cover images for you as well.

The only caveat is that they usually have a lengthy weight, so you'll want to book your covers well ahead of time. You can also book an entire series at once.
 
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indianroads

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I've had a great experience with Deranged Doctor Design. So far, I've had seven covers done by them, and I've loved all of them. They are also quite affordable (less than $300 for both e-book and print covers). For an additional $30, they'll design social media cover images for you as well.

The only caveat is that they usually have a lengthy weight, so you'll want to book your covers well ahead of time. You can also book an entire series at once.

Good information. As far as lengthy wait goes... about how long are you talking about? 3 months or more?
 

rwm4768

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Good information. As far as lengthy wait goes... about how long are you talking about? 3 months or more?

Right now, for example, they're booking projects for June. That's the biggest drawback with a place that does good work for affordable prices. It works for me because I usually submit my request as I'm writing the final book in a series. In the meantime, I have other projects going. So far, I've gotten most of my cover art before I've had the projects ready for publication.
 

indianroads

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Right now, for example, they're booking projects for June. That's the biggest drawback with a place that does good work for affordable prices. It works for me because I usually submit my request as I'm writing the final book in a series. In the meantime, I have other projects going. So far, I've gotten most of my cover art before I've had the projects ready for publication.

Thank you again.

I've been holding off until I finish my first draft, which is at the halfway mark today. Maybe I'll submit sooner as my goal is to release in June.
 

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