So you’ve decided to get a book cover professionally designed. You’re not sure if you want to have an illustration or have photomanipulation or even just a title and a name, so your question is- if you want an illustrator or a photographer to create something that’s special, and unique to your book, is that up to the designer or yourself to organize?
So many routes to take, so many options.
The short answer:
The designer is responsible for it.
The long answer:
This will come up a lot for professional designers, and each one will have a different answer. This is my answer to my own process, and I feel the best way to work with you- the author. You’re coming to me for a service, and a product.
I wouldn’t go to my pizza store only to have to visit the market on the way to pick up the veggies and the cheese for the base.
I’m an octopus, with my squidenticals out always feeling for new skill, new talent, new people to work with. This creates a grand network, like a huge collective business. Maybe even a marketplace. I have to collect my sources (illustrators, photographers, artists) so that when you ask about illustration, or having a photo shoot for your cover, I’m prepared.
It’s my job to guide you through the process, but if you feel confident enough to enquire about illustrators and photographers then that’s fantastic. That tells me you understand the process, you know what you want and you’re going for it. Just make sure you include me in the loop- especially since I’m the person who brings it all together in the end. I can help with the right dimensions, the right colour profile for printing, I can offer input as to what will and won’t work for your cover.
What if the author has something specific in mind?
If there’s an artist or photographer’s folio you’ve seen that you adore and must have and holy frankenballs I want them to make something for me, it’s best for you to let me know who that artists is so I can get in touch with them on your behalf.
Why is it better for the designer to get in contact with them instead of the author?
I have experience talking with freelancers, artists, and photographers. I know what I’m looking for, how to express it, what to expect in the contract of work and what rights we can work out for the work- exclusive or otherwise. I can talk to them about price, explain your budget, and how we can work within that. This also means I know what to expect when it comes to the illustration they’re going to send over, and can plan the book cover in advance. When they send over the final files it will make the whole process much more streamlined.
How can the author stay in the loop?
Ask. Remember how I talked about communication between you and your designer? Just ask.
I do my best to keep my author’s in the loop and CC them in to every email between myself and the artist but sometimes something will happen that they don’t understand, or they missed a step, or they’re getting confused. If that happens then ask!
I don’t expect you to know how it works. That’s my job, that’s why you’re hiring me. It’s totally okay for you to ask questions.
What if you don’t know anyone with the style of illustration/photography I want?
I research. I contact the artists on your behalf, and pitch the illustrators to you just as I would any other concept I’m pitching to you.
If you’re not sure what your designer does- ask. You don’t have to go in blind, you can be involved in every part of the process, and give feedback when you want to. You won’t need to know what’s happening the whole way but it certainly helps your confidence in the outcome.