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MOST Important Tips for Choosing a Designer

o    First, look at the designer's website. If the site is sloppy, unprofessional, and littered with design flaws and grammatical errors, then your book cover will have these same issues.

o    Second, review the designer's other work. If you don't like the covers displayed on his/her website, you won't be happy with the cover he/she designs for your book.

o    Third, check the prices carefully. Most all cover designers use stock images, whether purchased or free, the photography and illustrations  are rarely original work. If the price range is under $500, the artwork is almost certainly stock photography, illustrations, or clipart, which is ok, because stock images are even used by many of the top, professional  publishers.

o    If, however, the price exceeds $500, then you should expect original artwork. Ask the designer. If the artwork is not original or, at the very least, a collage of  multiple images, then negotiate for a better rate or find another designer.

        - The benefits of stock images are variety and price. With stock images, you can have almost anything imaginable on your cover, even fantasy images like a unicorn or a wizard; and the price is reasonable if you use the designer's subscription service.

        - The disadvantage is that the stock image is not unique. There is a chance (albeit, a very slight chance) that your image could show up on another author's book cover or, worse, on a billboard advertisement. The good news is that there are now many millions of stock images, so the odds are in your favor.

o    Fourth, there are many levels of original artwork; therefore, the prices will vary considerably based on your request.  For example, an original photo shoot with models, custom clothing, and a specific setting can cost between $1500 and $5000. The designer has to pay the models and the photographer (unless he/she is a professional photographer), plus purchase or rent the clothing, and then travel to the specific setting (with all the players) to shoot the photograph.

        - However, an excellent graphic designer that's proficient in Photoshop can collage a detailed, digital photo like this for much less (about half the price).

        - And an artist can illustrate (draw or paint) such an image for considerably less (about one quarter of that price).

o    Get a detailed price quote in advance so you know exactly how much you're paying and what you are paying for. Don't forget to ask how much it cost for changes to the design after the work is complete.

o    Also, a professional designer should have the skills to follow the print specifications (including uploading your cover) to the printer or POD company of your choice.

o    And last, be sure to ask about the copyright. You should own the rights to use the cover and its artwork for anything you want; however, if stock images are used, be sure to inquire about the stock image company's copyright rules. Most stock companies allow authors to use the work for anything related to the promotion of the book; however, mass printing t-shirts, coffee mugs , and other such products like those advertised through companies such as Cafe Press may be unauthorized or even illegal.



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