Last week I wrote about hybrid authors, authors who publish both traditionally and as self-publishers. Among other things, self-publishing means being responsible for your own covers, something I found difficult with Saving the Planet & Stuff. I knew what kind of feel I wanted in the illustration, but I had trouble hunting around on-line for illustrators who projected what I was looking for. I also realized that there was a difference between an illustration and a book design. I found book design mystifying. Fortunately, I found someone within our family's circle who was able to take care of both the illustration and the design. (Someone who appears to have taken down his website.)
In the March/April issue of the SCBWI Bulletin, author Chris Eboch has an article Cover Design in which she discusses for self-published authors the very issues I was dealing with. She describes pulling together a couple of other authors to help study recent fantasy covers in order to pinpoint the elements she wanted for her book, The Genie's Gift. In her case, she found both an illustrator, Marlo Garnsworthy, and a designer, Alan Erickson. And Chris explains how design differs from illustration. Design involves "choosing and placing text elements," which includes fonts. Fonts are important in terms of their appearance and their placement. And as I learned, some of them are copyrighted. You can't use just any font.
Chris points out that self-publishing can be expensive, something I think many inexperienced writers don't realize or consider. Editing and covers are the two big expenses. They're the two elements of a book that show big time, if they're not well done. Chris says to expect to spend several hundred dollars if you need to hire an artist for an illustration. I've seen the price range of $600 to $2500 in a couple of different places. And then, remember, that that might not include design.
So, writers, once you get the book written, you have a whole new task ahead of you.