Poaching An Illustrator

I see a book cover, I like, I want it, I have to have it. I know the age-old saying Don’t judge a book by it’s cover but many times I can’t help it. Especially if I’m standing in a huge bookstore avidly searching the rows and shelves for something to catch my eye – a pop of color, a hint of adventure, a proud face, a talking cat.

The design of the cover *to me!* shows that the author put some forethought into their characters. When I look at a book cover I hope to get a glimpse into the main characters psyche, their socioeconomic / magical / historical background and may even a hint at major plot developments.

Some covers that I love:

The 2011 Re-Design of the Song of the Lioness series

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce

(The boys in the background are kind of hipster annoying though…focus on Alanna)

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey

(A very old-school cover but the intelligence in his eyes, the uniqueness of his species and the focus of his stance catches my eye)

The Green Rider by Kristen Britain

First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Notice the subtle differences in the covers of
Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

In general I prefer my fantasy fiction books covers to be less busy ( i.e. not have multiple characters on the same cover bristling with different armed paraphernalia) and a design that is straightforward and captivating.

So back to the original topic of this post ‘Poaching An Illustrator’. For the life of me I can’t find a Wikipedia, Search Engine or LinkedIn type website geared solely towards illustrators or graphic artists of book cover art. Surely there is one? If you know of one please send me a line at algardisbooks at gmail dot com.

In fact I was shocked that it took quite a bit of time to discover who Tamora Pierce’s illustrators were. Only to find out that some of them didn’t have website and some of the websites were very outdated. Wouldn’t an up-to-date and extensive online portfolio be a boon to illustrators?

I assume that authors covered under Agents and Publisher’s contract receive cover design services from the publishers.

*Feel free to chime in here published authors: How much input do you have? Do you choose from a stable of on-staff or contracted illustrators? Or can you point to someone’s website, a friend of a friend’s book cover and say I like his or her work, let’s try him or her?

To the self-published authors: Where did you go for your design services? How much did you invest or not invest in quality cover art?

2 thoughts on “Poaching An Illustrator

  1. I’m an illustrator and saw your post on iFreelance.com.

    I’d be happy to provide a cover for you, however, for the cover style and quality that you’re looking for, your project budget is far too low. Industry standard for a book cover ranges from $1000 to $3000 — just so you know.

    Also, you may want to review this FAQ I pulled together: http://www.oreganoproductions.com/SPFAQ.shtml as it outlines some common misconceptions self publishers have about working with illustrators.

    Best of luck with your project.

    1. Hello S,

      Thank you very much for putting together such a thoughtful response to my post. Many of the replies were generic companies who had no interest in the specifics of what I was looking for. It’s good to know the price range of what I should expect for quality cover art going forward.

      Your FAQ page is very thorough and gives a new author like myself the information they need to make an informed decision. I appreciate that. Your style of illustration is exactly what I was looking for but the price range of $1,000 – $3,000 is beyond my budget. I would like to add your website to my FAQ page so that self-published authors interested in quality work can know where to go to find great advice on signing an illustrator. Thank you again for the enlightening post.


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