By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I have a cover conference (via email) this week with my current cover designer, Karri Klawiter. I’ve been told by cover designers in the past that they like working with me because I both know exactly what I’m looking for (or can quickly identify what I’m looking for when I get samples) and that I supply most/all of the information they need on their end immediately.
I’ve got sort of a template email that I use with designers to help speed along and clarify the process on both ends. Below is the initial email I sent for the last, published, project of mine (fall release).
As for the last project you did for me, I’m looking for a:
1) print cover: I’d like the book to retail for $10.99 US and 6.99 UK. Dimensions: 5.06” x 7.81 on white pages for CreateSpace. The ISBN for the print edition will be: 978-0-9895180-5-5 or ISBN-13: 978-0-9895180-5-5 . As yet I don’t have an exact page count, but it should be right around 200-215 pages. Tagline to go over the back cover copy: At Greener Pastures Retirement Home, leisure time can prove perilous…
My bio for the back of the printed book (author photo is attached):
Elizabeth writes the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin/Berkley, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs at ElizabethSpannCraig.com/blog , which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010-2013.
Back cover copy:
When psychic (and hubcap retailer) Wanda Alewine pays a late-night visit to Myrtle Clover, she urges the octogenarian sleuth to head straight to Greener Pastures Retirement Home. But Wanda doesn’t want Myrtle to consider the home’s dubious amenities–she wants Myrtle to prevent a murder seen in a vision.
Reluctant Myrtle investigates with sidekick Miles, who seems a lot more interested in Greener Pastures than she is. As the duo digs, they uncover more than just Sudoku and Scrabble—they discover a sinister undercurrent… with murder as its outcome.
2) An ebook cover (will run on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords), and 3) an audiobook cover for ACX.
What I’m looking for is really exactly what you did for the “Body at Book Club” cover…illustrated/vector drawing approach for the cover.
So, it’ll be “Death Pays a Visit”–A Myrtle Clover Mystery by Elizabeth Spann Craig (all title and byline elements like you had them last time).
Ideas for the cover.
I was thinking maybe a backdrop of a stone or brick wall with ivy on it. In the foreground, a bistro-style table with an upset glass, formerly full of red wine? Or maybe a broken flower pot either on the ground or the table (don’t know if that would require a window on the backdrop’s wall). I’m attaching some photos that sort of show where I was going with the idea, if that can help give you a starting place. I guess if we could sort of keep it simple and not too busy, but have it look like a mystery cover.
Please feel free to jump in if you think of other potential options. The idea is a tranquil scene with some dangerous sorts of elements thrown in.
****** (end email)
I sometimes attach covers of other books in my genre that I especially like.
I ask to be put on my designer’s calendar again for the next available slot.
I remind my designer that I will need to contact her once the formatting is done with the exact page number so that she can tweak the spine to get it exact for the print copies for CreateSpace.
So, general takeaways:
We can work with a designer on a book even when we haven’t yet started the book.
We need to know what formats we want the book in…print? Ebook? Both?
We need to know what type of cover we’re looking for. Photo manipulation? Vector illustration?
We need to be familiar with what types of covers various designer can do (some don’t do illustration) and what information they require. These requirements will usually be specified on their site.
We will want our print cover’s spine to be tweaked if we don’t have the final page count yet. See what the process for doing that is and whether there is any additional cost involved (or delay, time-wise).
I find it better (with my limited design experience) to give a starting point for the cover design and general element ideas and then let the experts work their magic. I’m sure to emphasize that I’m open to ideas and design elements. Then I can offer suggestions for the sample(s) I get back.
On cover design day, I make it a point to be as accessible as I can that day to make the process of emailing back and forth go faster. I don’t schedule appointments that day and I either check email frequently or I turn on notification sounds on my phone for the day.
And I pay promptly, too, which is important. PayPal is usually the method by which designers and other self-publishing professionals request payment.
How do you help the design process go smoothly?