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  • Robin Johnson

Design Tips - Choosing a Book Cover Designer

You need a cover design and are not sure where to look... Well, as much as I would like to say "look no further", I know the value of finding the right fit for a vision or idea. One of the first things you will find is that cover designers vary greatly in technique, style and experience. Some will be self taught, some schooled and all will have areas that they excel in.

So what should you look for? The best place to start is to ask some simple questions. Hopefully the answers to these questions will point you in the correct direction.

1. How long have you been doing design? Is the designer new to the design world, do they have years of creation under their belt or are they slowing down and taking fewer clients. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons with different experience. A newer designer may have a fresh look and a more experienced designer may be less flexible.

2. Are you taking new clients? Pretty self explanatory, if there is a waiting list it may be best to keep looking, unless you are not ready to start yet.

3. What are your fees? Most designers should be able to give an estimate for their design services. Make sure you ask exactly what the fees will cover and if there will be additional fees for changes.

4. Are you full or part time? How long does design take? Many designers are freelance and work their designs around various projects, school and sometimes additional careers. Some will also work with big publishers that will generally take precedence of their time.

5. Do you offer print and ebook design? Some designers will only offer ebook design, so if you will be creating a print version of your book at a later date keep this in mind. It is also helpful if you let the designer know that you plan on print so they can design accordingly.

6. Who owns the copyright of the design and any artwork or stock used to create it? This is a very important question to ask. Some designers charge royalties and some will keep the rights to any stock used. If you are not providing the stock to the designer for your cover make sure to ask about usage rights.

7. Can I get a design that will translate into a series and have coordinating designs? Make sure your designer knows if you will need additional covers with a similar look or elements. This is critical for choosing stock graphics for designs.

8. Do you have a website or portfolio I can look at? Before choosing any artist for your design, please make sure that you have browsed their designs and are comfortable with their style. Even designers that design for several genres will have the same general look on each design.

9. How can I contact you with questions? As a designer I have had numerous clients tell me how difficult it was to contact a precious artist. Make sure the designer you choose will be available to you as you have questions or need more work.

10. Are you a reader? What do you read? In truth, I have had very few clients ask me this, but many know me from blogging and already know that I read. It is, however, a fantastic question. Who better to design your cover than one familiar with current design trends for your genre. A designer who reads primarily non-fiction biographies may not be the best designer for a YA paranormal romance.

11. Would you like to read a portion of the story? All designers need to know about your book before beginning design and each will prefer a different method for doing this. Some may ask for a chapter or just a brief description. The entire book should never be necessary.

12. What genres do you design? Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask. Some designers will only design specific genres or for specific audiences. Some may only design non-fiction. Almost all will have a preference or favorite genre even if they offer many different types of design.

13. If I need website graphics or bookmarks can you help with the design? Most authors are fantastic at marketing and networking their books. Consistent design is crucial for this. Make certain you will be able to use your cover design or elements of the design in your advertising and promotion.

These questions should be a good starting point to finding a design for your book cover. I hope you enjoy the process and find this post helpful. I will also do a second post with my own answers as a cover designer to all of these questions.

If you have any questions you would like to ask me, please do not hesitate to do so.

Questions can be emailed to

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