The Quest for a Book Cover

Here it is. My cover for The Clay Remembers. There are still some minor tweaks necessary, but it is very close.

Final cover design for The Clay Remembers

Final cover design for The Clay Remembers

Everyone knows a good book cover can help sell books, and I’m hoping this cover does the job.

Finding a designer who can do a worthy book cover is not always easy. Nor is it cheap. Generally, your options are to find a good cover designer to personally work with or to look for an online designer at one of many cover design sites. There is one site where designers offer their services for as low as $5.00. Because I believe you get what you pay for, I didn’t even bother to explore the site to find out if these folks are any good. Perhaps I am wrong, but I can’t imagine top-notch covers being offered for such a low price.

For example, let’s just say that a designer spends three hours designing your cover.  For three hours’ work, that’s sixty cents an hour. Would a true professional successfully produce a good cover in only three hours? And would she work for sixty cents an hour? Add a reasonable time to create a cover and the hourly rate is microscopic. I wanted a designer who would design a cover, listen to my feedback on revisions needed, revise, and do that again and again until a final design is developed. So, no, I didn’t go to that site looking for a cover. Besides, I have the feeling that these designers are being taken advantage of by the site masters.

I shopped around online looking at various sites and what they offered. I came across 99designs and spent a lot of time looking at the kind of work their designers produce. It’s impressive. Their model involves designers competing to create your cover; you set up your contest, choosing from several options across a range of prices. Having several designers competing for your cover is very exciting. You get to see lots of ideas–often very different from one another. I chose the lowest priced package after looking at the portfolios of designers who had offered covers at that price, and I concluded that I did not have to break the bank to get a good cover.

I liked the fact that I could look at a designer’s work and then invite him or her to compete for my cover. I ended up with about 15-16 different designers who offered over 100 different designs (many of them revised versions of their first efforts). When you sign up for a package at 99designs, you are guaranteed a full refund if you are not satisfied. Once I knew I had some very promising designs, I was invited to guarantee purchasing a design, thereby guaranteeing that one designer would definitely be paid for his or her work. Presumably, that increases the designers’ commitment to your contest.

Another thing I liked about using the site was that I was asked to provide a detailed brief about my book that helped the designers envision their cover. To further assist my competing designers, I gave them links to my websites (www.sharonkmiller.com , www.buckskinbooks.com, www.theclayremembers.com) and to a new Pinterest board I put up specifically for their benefit. The board includes pictures of various settings for the novel and images that I hoped would provide insight into the story. It quickly became obvious which designers had explored the brief, the websites, and the board to get ideas. Those designers moved to the head of the pack rapidly.

Each time a designer offered a design, I gave very specific feedback for making adjustments–perhaps a different color text or background, for example. They responded to my feedback with questions that helped them move forward. It was very like having a conversation with each of them, and it became clear which designers could implement changes I sought. As they began using images from the Pinterest board that I believed were good choices, I provided all of them with a link to a hidden page at my website where they could download the images in higher resolution for the final cover.

Eventually, I had to choose up to six finalists, which really wasn’t too difficult. Choosing from among them was the challenge. I had sent out Tweets and Facebook posts along the way asking for opinions and finally sent out a poll from 99designs where I could invite others to rank the finalists. Most responders said it was hard to choose. They were all that good.

I finally chose the winner and am in discussion with JCNB about final tweaks and preparing for the transfer of files. I don’t know my designer’s name yet, but I hope I will learn it so I can give him credit in the book and declare him designer par excellence here on my blog.

About Sharon

**Writing, both personal and professional, has always been an important aspect of my life. **Personally, whether I write from experience or invent fictional characters, I learn so much about myself. Writing has always helped me understand and deal with important events and issues in my life. The blog, "Boxelders and Blackberries" serves this purpose. **My "gravatar" is a boxelder tree, which I hope provides a way to bring together my personal and professional writing. The boxelder tree branches into multiple trunks, each representing a different direction my life and career has taken.
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