I’m No Artist, But…

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

Okay, so I maybe putting the cart before the horse, but I believe in getting a head start when I can. I’m only about half finished with my third book (first draft!) and I’ve been considering cover art. Why? Because you only get about 8 seconds to entice a prospective reader to take the time to read the blurb about what’s inside the cover.

Well, as this post’s title indicates, I’m not an artist. (I can draw a mean stick figure, but that’s about as far as it gets. :D) I did design the cover for my first book, Fear Not!, using a photo from the drive-thru window of the Northwest Missouri Regional Credit Union where I work and Photoshop to create a rainbow. I also designed the text for the cover. However, being as it was a Bible study I felt the artwork was appropriate in its simplicity. With this Apprentice Cat being a fantasy, though, I thought maybe I should see if I could hire a real artist to design the cover.

I went to Lulu.com first because they “supposedly” have professionals who do cover designs. Here’s my problem: each Lulu sponsored designer stated that they would design my cover for a fee, but I would have to submit all the images I wanted to be incorporated in the cover. Huh? I have to give you the images? Isn’t that your job? That’s the whole reason I’m looking for a designer. Sure I could probably merge some pictures together and come up with something nice, but I want a really great professional cover.

I’m still looking for a good artist with reasonable fees, but in the meantime I’m trying to find ways to use my Photoshop and the skills I learned at Rush Printing as a desktop publisher to create a cover I can be proud of.

When buying a book, how important is the cover art to you? If you’re an Indie Author, how have you tackled the cover design?

***Apprentice Cat Cover

Update: I did end up designing the cover for Apprentice Cat myself and, I think, it’s pretty good. Sometime in the future I would like to have all the Malkin series covers re-designed by a professional, but until then, I’m satisfied.


Catch up on the adventure with other books in the Malkin series.

Apprentice Cat CoverApprentice Cat available in paperback and for KindleNookKoboScribd and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Also available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon and iTunes.



Journeyman-Cat15percentJourneyman Cat available in paperback and KindleNookScribdiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

Audiobook coming soon.



Secrets-of-the-Malkin-sidebar-newsletterSecrets of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 




Huntress of the MalkinHuntress of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookKobo and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

9 Responses to “I’m No Artist, But…”

  1. I think cover art is very important for grabbing attention. It should match the feel of the book. I have no photoshop skills, nor frankly, the patience. I hired someone, but since I’m currently having problems with them, I won’t recommend them to you. And I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about it. I’m going to try finding a new artist through word of mouth, though, not a listing. Oh yeah, you’re absolutely right that they’re supposed to come up with the images, not you.

    • vripple says:

      Good to know I’m not delusional. I always thought it was the artist’s responsibility to come up with the art, while mine is to give a general direction I would like to go, otherwise why hire an artist to begin with? I’m sorry you’re having such trouble with the person you hired. If I hear of anyone who does a good job and works well with others, I’ll pass the info along.

  2. […] Read the rest. This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.[…]

  3. […] be honest, I first picked it up because I liked the cover (remember the 8-second rule?). I decided to take a look inside when I realized they were speaking specifically to people like […]

  4. […] be honest, I first picked it up because I liked the cover (remember the 8-second rule?). I decided to take a look inside when I realized they were speaking specifically to people like […]

  5. Bradley says:

    Found this via April Hamilton.
    I’m happy to help out if you’re still looking.
    I’m not in business…mainly just do it for friends on Authomomy.com but if interested email me and I can give you my pricing.

  6. Joel Haas says:

    I have considerable PhotoShop skills and created my own cover for my novel Adlerhof. I had Mirasmart printing in St. Louis do the printing since it is a lot cheaper to go direct to a digital printer than through the middlemen like Lulu (which BTW has its headquarters only three blocks from my house) Creating a book cover with allowance for spine, scanning bar codes for ISBNs etc for printing a good different than creating one for an ebook. In any event, it is NOT a silly question to ask you for images. Here’s why.
    Most graphic artists are NOT illustrators. You can’t afford an illustrator. I know, since I have lunch twice a month with some of top illustrators in the country. Though I’m an excellent figurative sculptor, I am not an illustrator and would never dream of drawing/painting an illustration for my own book. So. Back to graphic artists; they work from photos or other pre made images. They know how to resize, choose the type face, create what’s called a legal proof and a bunch of other things. One thing they do not do is secure the rights to images to use on the book covers. If you are writing a book about, say the banking scandals of 2008, do you use photo stock libraries for generic photos of banks? How about news photos of the time–they are also protected and you must pay a royalty. If you are going to use your own photos or drawings fine, then provide them. Let’s say you’re writing a novel about your grandmother and her obsession with being on time and you can remember her pulling out her gold watch. Say the title to your book is “Grandma’s Gold Watch.” It is not the cover designer’s responsibility to provide a good photo of the watch; they’re not professional photographers either. Have a pro take the photo for you or accept the burden/risk or whatever of taking it yourself. Cover designers are pros at using the images you provide–unless you give them a budget and extra money for their time to provide stock images they recommend–and setting the correct type faces, color matches, determining if the colors are consistently web safe; or, if for a print job a “legal proof” (a legally binding color reproduction proof). Do you want to use Pantone or Kodak colors systems, what color fields do you want to use for your ebook cover RGB HSV CMYK? For your ebook cover, have you told them the pixel density and maximum dimensions? Cover designers are not generally good illustrators, so they use your images and you arrange for the rights and so on. IF you want original art, then I recommend getting an illustrator to do the work (several hundred dollars min) and then have the illustrator provide you with digital or original art. (Remember, you are licensing the art work for use, you don’t own the physical work and it should be returned to the artist.)

    • vripple says:

      Thank you for the information.
      I realize graphic artists are not illustrators. I don’t expect them to be. However, based on what you just said, I think I could do about as well on my own, given my own training as a desktop publisher/pre-press operator of a small printing company. I am not a professional graphic designer, but if I have to come with all the ideas, images, etc. on my own I may as well do it all myself, especially since my budget is very tight. I would hope a good graphic artist would be able to, at the very least, jump in with some ideas of how the cover could look. After all, when I was working for that printing company, I often had only basic info to begin with (something akin to a synopsis or even as little as a back blurb) and had to come up with the design, artwork, etc. on my own. We considered that good customer service.
      I do appreciate the information you’ve given here. Not everyone knows the behind the scenes of printing.

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