Having decided to put my book on the self-published route, I realized that I had more work to do. Before I could hand the manuscript over to my ace editor, I needed to have the cover set up and an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) set up for it. Today I’ll be talking about the designer-selecting process, which turned out to be a lot more involved than I expected.
You Just Google for an Artist, Right?
I started out by reaching out to my friends who had self-published novels already. What I quickly discovered is that artists, like writers, specialize. Some focus on designing covers for romance novels; others, science fiction, mystery, whatever. The primary lesson learned there is that the artists my novel-writing friends worked with wouldn’t work with me because they did not handle nonfiction titles.
Then just look for the top five choices the come up. Simple, right? Not quite.
My buddy Betty forwarded a couple articles from writer sites that listed guidelines and potential artists/graphic designers (I’ll use them interchangeably here, so bear with me). I found this particular article from The Creative Penn particularly useful, as it provided a long list of links to practicing book cover designers. Then I spent an hour or two looking at the portfolios of artists who designed nonfiction book covers.
I’d love to tell you that I was logical and “scientific” in my approach; but honestly, aside from developing a spreadsheet to track artists of interest, my primary criteria were:
- Does the designer’s aesthetic sense match the tone I’m trying to capture for my book?
- Did their work make me say, “Wow” or “Cool?”
- Was the artist’s approach distinctive somehow?
Out of the couple-dozen artists I reviewed, I narrowed my choices down to four or five, then reached out to three of them. One design firm didn’t respond, a second was not taking clients. That brought me to–oddly enough–my first choice, and he was available. I’ll share more as my process goes forward, but I put a deposit down and look forward to seeing his results.
Communicating with the Artist
Taking a cue from my designer friends, I shared as many ideas for the cover art as I thought were manageable, hoping to convey what I was hoping to accomplish with the cover art:
- Comic-book-style title font, subtitle in one of those “pow” graphics
- Caped superheroes (different sexes, ethnicities, etc.) with laptops or pens wearing hard hats, spacesuits, skirts, suits, Hawaiian shirts (my typical work gear)–putting papers, thoughts, or words in order
- A pen wearing a cape?
- “Glowing” writer (male or female) at a meeting table–maybe having a “Pow” (think Batman) on their laptop with the same “Pow” appearing on a presentation screen and the other people at the table looking amazed–wow, jaws dropping, that sort of thing
- Whatever comes to your mind that I haven’t thought of yet. The primary thing is that I want the capture is the idea that writers can and do make a difference in the workplace.
- typewriter (looks old)
- pink, orange, or brown colors (not a fan)
Where it goes from here, nobody but the artist knows, but it’s been fun putting my tech-writing brain to work for one of my own projects, not just someone else’s. More on this as I get it.