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12 Things to Expect When Hiring A Book Cover Designer

Hiring the right book cover designer can be hard. There are plenty designers to choose from. No one wants to get ripped-off or waste time and hire the wrong person for the book. But how to tell if which cover designer is right for your book? Just because book cover designer is for hire, doesn’t mean he’s the right one. In this article, I talk about how to tell a good book cover designer from bad one and some other tips on how to choose a great designer to help for and things to expect. Hope you’ll enjoy this:


1. It’s not only about the Talent of the book cover designer for hire

Knowing how to design is not enough. Good book cover designer will understand what author wants, how psychology works (how people buy, what causes them to doubt a book etc), understand the industry and where it’s going, see what trends are there in graphic design (broad sense, not just book covers). He also needs to have a working knowledge of marketing (which includes copywriting basics, book promotion tactics of the day, what works in Facebook ads etc). There are many talented designers but serious ones will always be looking to improve and learn more about the industry as a whole, not just design stuff.


2. Responsiveness

I hate slow to respond people. Respectful and serious people respond in a timely manner and are punctual. You can’t always answer email in an hour after it arrives but a response in 24 hours is a must, or if you can’t make sure that there are warnings beforehand that you are away from PC for vacation or are super busy. It’s also easier to communicate like this and produces better results when working on covers.


3. No Arguments or Hassle

Ultimately, the final decision on the book cover is with you, the Author. You don’t have to accept all designer’s suggestions. The designer has no right to impose design concept on you. BUT don’t expect the designer to 100% agree with you on everything either. He shouldn’t (100% agreement might also mean he’s just doing the job to finish up fast and doesn’t point out mistakes if there are some). It’s a creative collaboration so disagreements are possible and can produce good results, it’s part of most creative endeavors. Good design process includes the following thing.


4. Advice and Constructive Criticism

The right cover designer will not shy away from giving good and, most importantly, constructive criticism that in his honest opinion will improve the design. No arguing, but he will always try to point out what could be improved, why and how. Preferably, examples will be included to support it. Some things are subjective and some things are design rules and guidelines so expect a designer to defend some of them if need be! 🙂


5. Questions

Designer should ask questions. To really understand your story/message/vision of the book, you need to ask questions. Questions like the genre, subgenres or main reader are usual but there should be questions about the main scenes of the book, main ideas, main characters and even tools/symbols used in stories that stand out and can be very used in the design. Sometimes a story of how author came up with the book idea can also be an inspiration for design and help.


6. Acknowledgment of Weaknesses

Designers aren’t good at everything and all the styles and techniques of design. You can never know everything about it. It’s a continuous learning experience. An honest designer will rather lose a sale now then promise to deliver design he can’t. For example, I’m not strong at illustrations and I can’t deliver world-class design there, that’s why I have a partner designer who can do those and the work is given to her. Also, if you don’t know or don’t admit your weaknesses, then you won’t work and improve on them.


7. Real face

If you can’t find the face behind design company or, even worse, on freelancer’s website, then do more research on him before hiring. A professional book cover designer will have an About Page, picture and profiles on Social Networks shared. Anonymous website is not good thing. And some justify not having pictures with saying they are private person, but we all are, adding a picture on your professional profile doesn’t mean you are gonna go public and famous. It’s just a professional thing to do.


8. Upfront on Fees and Terms

Designers don’t have to show their pricing on their website as I do, but they have to be upfront and very clear on that when Author asks for a quote. Terms and fees are agreed before the work starts. Same for Deposit.  It may depend on the specific situation/design package bought etc but it must be simple and clear. No ‘we’ll decide and price’ as we go. It’s a time-waster.


9. Deadlines

Similarly, a professional and serious designer will not work without a deadline. Doesn’t mean you should expect design finished in one day but a deadline longer than 45 days could be bad and will result in lots of wasted time. When Author doesn’t need book cover finished as soon as possible because the book is still being worked on by an editor, etc, 20-30 days are the best deadline. It’s not too long and not too short. You get to see the result fast and designer get’s enough time to work on it.


10. Collaboration

Making a great cover is a collaboration between Author’s vision and designer’s talent/insight. The more Author knows what he wants, the easier it is for a designer to come up with matching cover idea. Again, it’s a dance, so both sides have to contribute while one side has to lead and guide.


11. Revisions

There are different amounts of revisions you can expect to have for different price points. Unlimited revisions usually mean that there is no clear direction of where the cover design is going or perfectionism has taken over. Few revisions should always be available for tweaks and changes. Either extreme is not good and finding the happy middle is the goal here.


12. Refunds

Personally, I think Refunds should always be available, most of the time 100% of the amount (with the design concept staying with designer and not being used as the official cover design). Sometimes if the decision to stop working with designer comes at the end of process and with lots of results achieved than designer should get compensated for his hard work. This depends on both people working. Other designers do have ‘kill fees’ and that means deposit stays with the designer if the project gets canceled by the author. This is something to look into and make sure you understand before the work starts.


These are 12 things that you can expect from good book cover designer. No one is perfect but if most of these are missing then don’t be afraid to hire a different designer. There are lots of talented designers, and even more average ones with super low prices, so choosing is not easy. But you can find the right person for sure because there are lots of designers and book cover design prices. I do hope hope these explained a lot about the process. If you enjoyed this article, you should check this out too:

Would you like to learn more about working with cover designers?

You can download a free PDF guide that talks about cover design process, different pricing ranges designers have, what makes a good book cover and more! No matter who you’d hire in the end, it will help you make a better educated decision!

Comments (3)

  1. Craig Severn - Reply

    Consider having someone proofread the Rocking Book Covers pages.
    For instance a line in item 6 –
    “Honest designer will rather lose a sale now then promise to deliver design he can’t.”
    There are several possible but debatable improvements, and one actual typo –
    It should say “than” not “then”.
    I am only a novice, as I don’t even know whether to put the period before or after the closing quote. 🙂
    But wouldn’t it read better like this –
    “An honest designer would rather lose a sale now than fail to deliver a design he promised.”
    Thank you.

    • Adrijus G. - Reply

      Will do! Website needs a design update either way so this is something to add.


  2. Pingback: How to Brand Your Book Covers | Savvy Book Writers

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