The Publishing Process: Marketing Part 1- The Cover Design
At this point in the publishing process, writers have hopefully found a publisher, and been through a lengthy editing process. This leads into perhaps the most challenging part of the professional process- marketing. Knowing just what will get a book into stores and popular is near impossible, which is why the previously mentioned ‘vanity presses’ are so dangerous. And because of the various nuances of the marketing process, this entry in the process will take multiple entries to go through. To begin with. I plan on speaking on the ‘simplest’ part of the process, and the very first one- getting a cover design.
Judging a Book
The expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ may be true in reference to looking at other people. But when it comes to actual books, it’s a standard that no one ever meets. The cover is the very first thing we see when we look at a book, and it’s what grabs our attention and hopefully makes us purchase the book. Therefore, whatever your book might be, you need something on that very first look that will grab people. I have seen authors publish book with a simple colored background cover, with the title emblazoned on it. It may be direct, but it doesn’t compete with something like this.
Therefore, when you are ready to get your book out there, you need to have some sort of plan in mind for the cover. I was inspired by the cover of a Green Lantern graphic novel, so be sure to observed media around you for ideas. If you are lucky, your publisher will help you; iUniverse offered me a chance to work with their graphics department and design a cover when I started working with them. Granted, not every publishing method may offer this, but most major ones will. Remember, a good publisher wants your book to sell, and they will have the materials in place to help you achieve this. But if a writer desires more control, then today’s market does offer many options, including hiring an artist to do your cover independently.
Finding an Artist
With the advent of the internet, it is much easier to find an artist to do your cover. Sites like Deviantart.com offer a multitude of different artists, with varying degrees of style and ability posting their work online. This can be overwhelming, but it is certainly gives plenty of options. Still, you want to make sure you find an artist that not only matches your vision for the cover, but also has the ability and skill to do a full cover, not just a character or background sketch. I was fortunate enough that my artist, Derrick Fish, was not only stylistically qualified, but had experience in doing full covers and created title credits as well as a full cover for Lightrider.
Of course, there are many other things to consider in taking on an independent artist. First, you need to make sure that your publisher will allow you to use an outside artist. Second, you need an artist that you feel you can trust, establish a fair payment with, and that will complete your work on time. Work for a cover can be expensive, and most artists will charge a minimum of $500 for such in-depth work. And you find yourself with an artist that doesn’t live up to expectations while you have a deadline, it can be a serious financial issue. And once all that is worked out, you still have the legal ramifications of using an artist. Publishers will need a written form that gives them the right to use an artist’s work, and without this, you may face copyright issues, so above all else, be sure to get this taken care of, no matter what your publisher may say. In my case, I fortunate that Derrick was very easy to work with in this matter- he considered the work he did for me to be my property upon completion, offerend manys suggestions that improved the overall design of the cover, and filed out the required form with no complaints. For my part, I made sure to give him credit in the book’s liner notes.
Marketing anything is hard, and there are a lot of things you will have to learn. But hopefully, advertisements you’ve seen for film, TV, and books, will have helped instill on you how important having a good central image can be. And with the resources available from either your publisher, or from an independent source, you can create a cover that is not only true to your vision, but also dynamic enough to grab the attention of the public and get your book on their shelves.