Have some Photoshop skills? Thinking perhaps you should design your own book cover to save on hiring a professional?
If yes than you are a lot like me two months ago. I’d been hesitant about hiring a designer since I launched my book. I felt I had an above average working knowledge of Photoshop for someone who never majored in graphic art, and worried that all the advice on the internet stating I should hire out the job was propaganda from the designer industry. My fear in a nutshell:
“What if I hire out the job to a designer only to pay a lot of money for something I could have made myself?”
Finally, I realized that there are problems intrinsic to a writer designing his or her own cover art.
1.) I kept trying to integrate symbolism from the book. I neglected to realize that the reader didn’t yet have a reference for the material and therefore could only appreciate this symbolism after reading it. This isn’t the point of the cover. The cover is intended to get them ‘reading’ in the first place.
2.) I’m a writer, not someone trained in creating imagery that others will find exciting.
Here are some of the designs I originally came up with:
When I went about the design on my own I was limited. I could manipulate photos, but I couldn’t create characters if I did not find exactly what I was looking for on the internet. A professional designer doesn’t have this limitation. If they need a specific character they can build it.
Overtime, the ‘what if’ of hiring out the cover continued to bug me.
“What if I am handicapping myself because of fear that someone else won’t be able to provide a better cover? In other words, what if my ego is getting in the way of a great piece of marketing?”
I discussed this with a number of authors/designers on kboards. The resounding comment after getting opinions of my own designers:
“Well…I’ve seen worse.”
One of those comments came from a writer named Z. Rider (@ZRiderHorror). Taking a look at her cover art, I was rather impressed:
I didn’t know what it would be like to work with a designer. I came into it afraid that I would be too picky and would eventually rub the designer the wrong way for being overly attached to my own ideas.
…not what happened.
On hiring Damon Za, I was provided with two cover concepts. The idea being that I could pick my favorite and collaborate on the changes I wanted. One of the designs was based on my own idea, the other on a concept that the designer created from reading the description of the book I provided.
These were the first Beta Concepts:
It was immediately clear to me, that my idea (left), was crap. The Designers concept (right) was far more exciting to look at… but needed to be tweaked. For instance, the Main Characters age, weapon, and clothing. So the designer took my feedback and I then received this:
Wow! Much closer to what I wanted but still, details needed tweaking. However, at this point I was convinced I had made the right decision and told the designer that I wanted them to also prepare a paperback and audio book version.
This was the third revision. The weapon was right as well as the coloring, but the character’s hair had taken a turn in the wrong direction.
I was also starting to get insecure of my constant bickering over details, worried that I might get on the designer’s nerves. At one point I requested some changes, then slept on it and realized I wanted other changes that contradicted my first request. It turned out my fears were misplaced, Alisha at Damon Za was nothing but accommodating and patient with all my feedback throughout the process.
When I received the final draft, even the friends who had been skeptical about hiring a designer changed their minds.
“Okay, I admit it, that is pretty awesome.”
The Lesson I am taking away from all this… I’m never doing my own cover art again.