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Things to Consider When Hiring A Book Cover Illustrator

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  • August 10, 2023
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  • 8 min read

Book Design

In the competitive world of publishing, a book’s cover plays a crucial role in attracting readers and conveying the essence of the story within. It serves as the visual representation of the story within its pages. 

It is a powerful marketing tool, enticing readers to pick up the book and explore its contents further. An eye-catching book cover illustrator can convey the book’s genre, tone, and overall theme, setting the right expectations for the reader.

That’s why it’s essential to carefully consider various factors when hiring a book cover illustrator. A well-designed and captivating book cover can make all the difference in grabbing the attention of potential readers.

Finding an Illustrator: What You Need to Know

When you begin writing your text, you are essentially beginning the process of collaborating with book illustrators. As you take notes and jot down ideas, consider the mental pictures forming in your head. 

You could write down your ideas or draw stick figures, but get them down while they are still new in your mind. Then picture yourself reading your book from start to finish.

  • Does the main body of the book include any illustrations?
  • Do they come in color or monochrome?
  • What do your characters look like if you write fiction?

7 Factors to Consider When Hiring a Book Cover Illustrator

The cover is very important in getting readers’ attention and making them want to pick up a book. A well-designed book cover can distinguish between a book that sits on the shelves and gets no attention and one that immediately becomes a best-seller. 

Some writers create their covers, but many engage expert designers to make their books stand out.

However, choosing the right book cover designer is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are several factors to consider when hiring a book cover designer, each of which can significantly impact the success of your book.

1- Experience and Portfolio

When choosing a book cover illustrator, looking at their experience and resume is important. An experienced artist will have a lot of knowledge and skills that can make a big difference in how well your book cover does. Look for artists who have worked on projects with a similar type or theme to yours. They will be better able to show what your story is about.

It is important to look at the illustrator’s work to understand their artistic style, their flexibility, and how well they pay attention to details. Pay close attention to the general quality of their work, how the drawings are put together, and how well they can use visual elements to show how they feel. 

A broad and powerful resume shows that the artist is skilled and creative, which are important for making a book cover that stands out.

2- Understanding of Genre and Target Audience

    • Choose an illustrator who understands the specific genre of your book.
    • They should be able to capture the essence of your story and appeal to the target audience.
    • Familiarity with genre-specific visual tropes and symbols can help create a compelling cover.

3- Originality and Creativity

    • Look for an illustrator who can offer a fresh and unique perspective.
    • A creative approach can make your book spine design stand out among competitors.
    • Discuss their ideas and explore various concepts to ensure originality.

4- Communication and Collaboration

For the desired result, the author and the book cover artist must be able to talk to each other and work together. When you hire an artist, make sure they are willing to listen to your ideas and include you in the creative process. 

A good artist will listen carefully to what you want, ask relevant questions, and offer helpful suggestions to improve the overall design.

For a smooth process, it’s important to set clear communication lines and reasonable goals for dates and changes. By working together, you can build a solid working relationship and make sure your visions for the project are matched.

5- Professionalism and Reputation

When hiring a book cover illustrator, their professionalism and reputation are crucial indicators of their reliability and commitment to delivering exceptional results. Consider the following aspects:

Testimonials and Reviews:
  • Look for testimonials and reviews from previous clients to gauge the illustrator’s reputation and client satisfaction.
  • Check online platforms, social media, and professional networks for feedback and recommendations.
Communication and Responsiveness:
  • Assess the illustrator’s communication skills and promptness in responding to inquiries.
  • A professional illustrator should proactively provide updates, seek clarification when needed, and promptly address any concerns.

6- Budget and Timelines

When considering the budget and timelines for your book cover project, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Cost vs. Value

  • Assess the illustrator’s pricing structure and compare it to your allocated budget.
  • Remember that investing in a skilled and experienced illustrator can greatly enhance your book cover’s overall quality and appeal.
  • Consider the long-term value of a well-designed cover regarding book sales and reader engagement.

Timelines and Deadlines:

  • Discuss the illustrator’s availability and workload to ensure they can deliver the artwork within your desired timeframe.
  • Clarify the expected milestones and establish a timeline accommodating both parties’ schedules.
  • Allow sufficient time for revisions and iterations to ensure the final product meets your expectations.

Contract and Terms:

  • Create a comprehensive contract outlining the scope of work, payment terms, and copyright ownership.
  • Address any specific requirements or limitations regarding the usage of the artwork, such as exclusivity or licensing agreements.
  • Seek legal advice to protect your rights and ensure a fair and mutually beneficial agreement.

7- Compatibility and Vision Alignment

To ensure successful collaboration, finding a book cover illustrator who aligns with your creative vision and understands the essence of your story is essential. Consider the following factors:

Artistic Style and Vision:
  • Evaluate the illustrator’s artistic style and determine whether it complements the tone and genre of your book.
  • Request samples or sketches related to your project to assess their ability to bring your vision to life.

Genre Compatibility: 

  • Different genres have distinct visual conventions and aesthetics. 
  • Hiring a book cover designer who is well-versed in your genre is crucial. 
  • They should be familiar with the typical design elements and styles that resonate with readers of your genre.
  • A designer experienced in creating covers for romance novels may not necessarily excel in creating covers for science fiction or thrillers.
Understanding of the Story:
  • Engage in detailed discussions about your book’s plot, themes, and characters to gauge the illustrator’s comprehension and ability to capture the essence of your story visually.
  • Look for illustrators who ask thoughtful questions and show genuine interest in understanding the nuances of your narrative.
Collaboration and Flexibility:
  • Based on your feedback and suggestions, assess the illustrator’s willingness to collaborate and adapt their approach.
  • Find someone who can balance incorporating your ideas and bringing their creative expertise to the project.

Tips for Hiring A Book Cover Designer For Your Self-Published Book:

  • Let go of your obsession with the latest styles. Make a cover that will grab the attention of your readers.
  • Create a list of supportive potential readers before you begin.
  • Get informed. Create a list of works you admire and would want to replicate.
  • Treat designers like professionals. Hear them out. 
  • Remove as much emotion as possible from the decision-making process.
  • Pick a book writing service that is excited about your concept for the book.
  • Don’t stress too much about the cost or timeline, but think about it.
  • Create a list of ten excellent designers, cut it down to two or three, and then poll five of your most trustworthy ideal readers to choose the winner.
  • If in doubt, ask your audience.

Types of Books That Require A Good Illustrator:

Children’s Books: Children’s books rely on pictures to keep kids’ attention and make the stories more interesting. Illustrations help bring the characters, places, and events to life in picture books, early readers, and middle-grade tales. This makes the story more interesting and easy to understand for kids.

Graphic Novels and Comics: The illustrations play a central role in graphic novels and comics, which are visual narrative formats. A book’s ability to tell a story, show an action scene, or generate an interesting picture depends entirely on the artwork’s quality. An experienced artist can bring depth, passion, and visual flare to these works.

Art Books: Art books with paintings, drawings, or photography as their major subject typically need a talented illustrator to deliver the images. To make a book that is aesthetically acceptable and visually appealing, a book cover illustrator may help collect, organize, and enhance the illustrations.

Cookbooks and Recipe Books: Cookbooks often include illustrations to showcase the final dish, step-by-step cooking processes, or ingredient pairings. A talented illustrator can create mouthwatering visuals that entice readers to try out the recipes and enhance the book’s overall appeal.

Poetry and Prose Collections: Incorporating artwork within a poetry or prose book is optional but often adds a new dimension to the reading experience. Illustrations can help set the mood, support the themes, or give symbolic images that improve the reader’s experience. 


Once you’ve decided on an artist, it’s time to collaborate on a final design proposal. Solicit many variants from them and compare and contrast. 

Finally, poll your ideal readers on which of the last 1-3 iterations they prefer.

Choosing a new cover is not important. It doesn’t matter what your family or friends think. Focus on the ideal audience. In the long run, it will be worth it. Do what they want to see.

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