When someone expresses interest in getting some work done, the first thing I do is send him a cover art questionnaire. I ask only for a brief synopsis where I look for keywords that will help me pinpoint what's important in the story, and what's saleable.
After I've emailed the client with my thoughts or questions (to make sure we're both on the same page), I toy with various pieces of art and fonts to see what clicks.
Why does it cost as much as it does?
There's a common adage that says, you get what you pay for. I think that's true for the most part.
I don't make as much as when I worked for 'da man' doing the same sort of work, but there are other perks for me. Like working on what interests me and creating visuals for an industry I love. A book cover or poster is so much more exciting than doing a plumber's full page ad.
Most of my expenses come from two things. Looking for art. And paying for it. Since I usually charge a flat fee, every hour I spend hunting for the right model is an hour I'm not getting paid for putting the final art together.
Maria's 3 Rules for Hard-working Art
Whether it's a cover, a Facebook banner, or a printed poster, I try to make sure the graphic obeys three rules.
It's gotta stop traffic. Good cover art is a selling tool. It should convey genre and subject matter to the intended audience. It must trigger an emotional response to stop and look deeper.
Make it memorable. I want it to haunt the viewer so that it becomes instantly recognizable when they see it again on someone's Goodreads bookshelf.
It should be unique. Especially with romance, if all you have are two people in a desperate clench, it loses its impact because that visual has become cliche.
Instead I try to design something subtler and more evocative. It's a psychological ploy. Your brain will catch the nuance, but it doesn't register except perhaps on a subconscious level. It's like planting a seed in someone's mind.
And because Barbara asked:
How do you deal with a client who thinks they're an artist (when they're really not) and uses words like, "this needs more zazz!" or "I love it. Change everything."?
You mean aside from swallowing dangerous amounts of aspirin? It happens, but fortunately not very often. I try to be gentle and steer them in the right direction.
Too much input diminishes the creative process to grunt work. You end up making compromises to please a client rather than producing a piece of art that will be a selling tool.
Sometimes I'll give them what they want and say goodbye. But, if what they want is utter trash, I walk away. I don't want my name associated with it.
That's the beauty of freelancing. I can work with who I want.
By the way, Barbara, great questions!
This was fun! If you guys have any other ideas for future posts, leave me a comment. Does anyone have any questions about the process?
I'll leave you with a few jobs I've done recently. If you need some art, this is where you can find more information.
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