My book Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon
released this past Tuesday (Feb. 20, 2018). Here’s the cover:
Working with a publisher often means that you will be working with a cover artist. Even if you self-publish (as I have), you may need the assistance of an artist.
In my experience with both of my traditionally published books, publishers and the artists they hire are open to what you want your book to look like. In both instances, I received a form at the very beginning of the publishing process asking for information on what I wanted on the cover and/or important elements of the story that should be included. The artist wants to do good work that you, the author, will be happy with.
Which brings me to my first (and I think most important) piece of advice:
Be very specific. In fact, err on the side of being over-specific.
Here’s the thing: unless your artist is someone you know personally, it’s likely he or she will never read your work. All they have to go on is what you’ve described to them. If there is a misunderstanding or a miscommunication on what you’re expecting, you could wind up with a piece of cover art you’re not happy with and/or a very frustrated artist.
Take my cover shown above. I love this cover. It’s gorgeous, and it’s perfect for my book. But that wasn’t the initial version. When I received the draft it was beautiful, but the clothes the models were wearing weren’t reflecting the story’s genre. And really, it was my fault. I neglected to describe the clothing to the artist. It seemed that it would be an easy fix, but it took several hours of the artist’s time. (I felt terrible). So she asked me for references for what I was looking for.
And it isn’t just cover artists. I’m also preparing to start a ministry at my church and am having a logo made for it. When I went to the graphic artist, I thought I was being specific. I even drew what I wanted and gave it to him. He looked at it, studied it, and then asked for what colors or fonts I was thinking of. I had no clue. So he told me when commissioning someone, come with at least 3 examples of whatever you're commissioning (be it logos, book covers, flyers or what have you) that are similar to what you're looking for so that the artist can get an idea of what you want.
Pinterest is great for this. You can put together reference pictures on boards so that they are all in one place. On my pinterest, I have a board dedicated to my book filled with settings, clothes, hairdos, and so on. Whenever you find a picture that fits your board, pin it. Then when something like this happens, you can point the artist to a bunch of pictures they can reference. The whole point is to get the artist on the same page as you are.
If you are an artist, please don’t be afraid to ask your clients for references or clarification. As a writer, I can attest that I am looking to you to help me bring out the ideas in my brain. My brain is wired differently than yours. You see things in a way I can’t. You think in color and layout and forms and shapes. I think it words. And guess what? Sometimes what I think I want is different than what I really want. Take my cover above as an example—that wasn’t what I was thinking of when I first thought of the cover for my book. But I couldn’t have dreamed of a better one.
My second piece of advice is: be willing to compromise. The model on my cover isn’t exactly what I imagine my main female character to be like. However, the model the artists chose is so perfect, I can let that go. You’re not going to get exactly what you want all the time so know what you’re willing to let go and what you’re not. And make that clear to the artist as soon as possible.
Before I go, here’s a video that explains all this in more detail. Marco Bucci is a professional artist, and in this video he details a situation where he and his client couldn’t get on the same page. It was a source of frustration for both him and the client. It’s long, but worth watching.youtu.be/xW3jkUM_lSMMichelay
M.R. Anglin’s newest YA fantasy novel, Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon
released Feb. 20, 2018 and is available on Amazon along with her middle grade novel, Lucas, Guardian of Truth
(LampPost 2012) and the self-published Silver Foxes
. Her work has also been included in the Coyotl Award winning anthology, Gods With Fur
(FurPlanet 2016), Extinct?
(Wolfsinger 2017), and Dogs of War
Vol. 2 (FurPlanet 2017).