Custom Cover Art

People are scary. At least they are to the chronically shy. Maybe you are like me, maybe you know someone like me, or maybe you are going to shake your head like my extroverted husband, but interacting with people is not comfortable at all. I was voted “shyest” in my middle school class for valid reasons.

More than once as a child, I finished my meal and asked for an ice cream cone. My parents gave me a dollar and said I could go order one. Sure. No problem. They would watch, which meant I would be the one going up to the counter and talking to the teenager at the register… That did not happen. There was either no ice cream or I bribed my little sister to order for me.

I am no longer that hesitant, but talking to strangers requires preparation and a great amount of energy to push through some interactions. Quotes for a fence repair – script, job notes, and a self pep-talk with each call. Figuring out how to get cover art and sending messages to artists? While I would prefer things magically appear with zero interaction, at least most of this is via email.

A note first: there are standard templates you can use for digital self-publishing through the main retailers, and they are often free, so I would say to not let the cost of a cover keep you from publishing. However, publishing is also about marketing your product, which is your book, so I decided to spend some saved up marketing money and look for a digital artist to bring my vision to life.

To begin my search, I lurked around a Facebook group my husband found dedicated to beta readers of fantasy novels. Eventually someone – not me – asked in a post where all the great cover art came from, and the responses pointed me to ArtStation. There are others artist sites, but this is the one primarily recommended to me. With my vision in mind, I performed multiple searches, scanning the results for images sticking out to me as similar to what I want for my cover.

Much scrolling later, I documented three artists with work I could reference in my request. Considering reaching out to them was too much for that evening, so I waited and wrote up a draft of my message the next day to send. I am now discussing my idea with artists, and the initial sketches are promising. I have heard a price-range of $300-$1000, so we’ll see what it ends up at for these quotes.

If I had to share lessons from the process so far, I would say this: Do not be afraid to ask the author / reader community questions instead of waiting for someone else. Have an idea for your cover art and share some basic information about your book with the artist so they can help it fit the theme. Know that custom art is not cheap, and respect your fellow creatives for the time and effort they put into their work as well.

I am going to have this same difficulty talking to beta readers, and receiving their feedback, but that is a concern for another day.

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