FAQ for self publishers
Here are some frequently asked questions I get when I work with self publishers. I hope this helps to get you a better overview over my working process. If there are any questions left or if you want to hire me don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you take commissions?
Yes, absolutely! Please shoot me an email with some basic info on what your project is about, a short description of the character(s) depicted and the timeframe. If you already know your budget range, feel free to include that as well. I love everything fantasy, young adult, sci-fi, steampunk, cyberpunk and paranormal romance as long as it focuses on a human character and fits well into my portfolio.
Please only contact me for the style that is shown on my website. I don’t do lineart drawings, comics, pet portraits or oil paintings. Literally what you see is what you get. I also don’t do art tests or free sample illustrations.
How much do you charge for an illustration?
I wish there was a quick answer for this! There are quite a few factors that determine the price for an illustration and that’s the main reason why I don’t have a fixed price list online. Every illustration, as well as every author’s needs, are unique and different.
My illustration rates mainly depend on the complexity of the image. There’s a difference in work hours between illustrating a single character in front of a simple background vs. multiple figures on a complex background and everything in between. The second biggest factor in determining the price are the usage rights the author wants to acquire. Naturally if you just want to use the image as a book cover, it’s cheaper than if you want to acquire additional rights for merchandise etc.
Please keep in mind that it usually takes me around two weeks to complete a book cover illustration from first email contact to preparing and signing the contract, over reference gathering and reference shooting, coming up with a sketch, deciding on a color scheme, carefully rendering everything out to delivering the final painting and writing the invoice.
Please get in touch via email to get a more precise offer.
What kind of info do I need to include in my book cover inquiry?
In order to be able to evaluate if the project is the right fit for me I will need from you:
a short description of what your novel is about
a general idea of what you’d want on the cover
a deadline for completion
how and for what you intend to use the illustration
optional: your budget
The first four points of this list are absolutely essential in order to make you a reasonable offer.
Do you work with a contract?
Yes! This makes the commissioning process as smooth as possible and it ensures that everybody is on the same page from the start.
What are usage rights?
When hiring an illustrator it is important to understand that the author does not buy the copyright of the work itself but a license to use the illustration, e.g. as cover art. That means that the author does not have unlimited rights to a cover art merely because he/she commissioned the piece. The license usually applies only for the specific project that the artwork is being created for and can come with restrictions like length of time, medium, size, format, location of use, and more. Big companies usually will want to buy and own all copyrights to the image created and they pay accordingly. For most projects you, as the author, don’t need anything like full ownership of copyrights and can save a lot of money by only buying the usage rights that you really need. Most authors only need the rights to use the image as a book cover for digital e-book publications, physically printed books and additional use for online promotion. If you need to acquire further rights, please tell me so I can accommodate this in my offer.
What does the process of working with you look like?
If we agree on content, budget and timeframe I send out my standard art agreement - a contract to keep both sides on the same page. I’ll ask for 50% of the money upfront. After we nail down the cover concept in written form I’ll create a colored sketch for your approval. After receiving the sketch you can then request revisions. These will be limited to minor changes that don’t contain new conceptual input. Please keep in mind that I’m an illustrator, not a visual development artist. I accept a flat fee for painting my take on your initial image description and that includes a little bit of creative freedom. If your project necessitates multiple or unlimited revisions I’m happy to offer you an hourly rate.
After the sketch approval I’ll complete the painting and send a low resolution version to you. You can then request minor tweaks once again. Ideally, at this stage, no changes should be required. I try to stay as close to the sketch as possible while painting, so most issues should have been already resolved at the sketch stage. I’ll invoice the remaining 50% after your approval of the final painting. Once I can confirm payment I’ll send you the high resolution file.
Do you do layout as well?
No, I only do the painting. While I can select a font and throw it over my own painting there’s a world of difference to what a professional and dedicated graphic designer can do. I can refer you to a great layout artist if you haven’t got one already. I highly recommend using a professional for this - badly placed typography can literally ruin the whole cover image and make your book look cheap and amateurish. And then there’s also proofing, to worry about, or using the right dimensions and image resolution, making sure elements line up with trim and fold and everything else you should have tackled by a professional.
Do you offer a payment plan?
Sorry, I can’t currently offer a payment plan.
How long does it take you to complete a cover artwork?
Depending on how many projects I’m juggling at the same it usually takes me 2-4 weeks to complete a painting.
How much in advance should I contact you if I want a book cover for my upcoming novel?
I’m usually booked out a few weeks (sometimes months) in advance depending on how many projects I’m juggling at the time. To be on the safe side it would be best if you could contact me at least 4 weeks, or better 8 weeks before you’d need it done. Also please make sure that the book will come out in a reasonable time frame (or that you’re comfortable with me sharing the cover image beforehand). Part of my business is to be able to show my work on social media and share it so that other self publishers can find me. Ideally that would be three months after completion of the work.
I haven’t started with my novel yet. Can I still commission you for a book cover for inspiration and motivation?
I wouldn’t advise it. I’d definitely need some sort of cover description to work from. Knowing what character I should portray exactly and what kind of feeling you want to get across is essential. In the end the cover should suit your book and target audience as best as possible so you can make the most of it. Also, I really like digging into portraying a fully fledged character, this is the part I like best about my job.
Are there some things that you won’t illustrate?
Definitely. I don’t illustrate explicit sexual scenes and ideologically sensitive content that could be considered offensive.
I also don’t do monsters, aliens that don’t look human or anthropomorphic characters due to personal preference. You should contact a dedicated creature artist for that kind of thing, who really loves doing that kind of work. I don’t like to show more than three characters on a book cover because cramming more than three figures onto a vertical format often results in crowded images with compositions that lack focus; I like to keep it simple and iconic.
Oh, and no robots please! :)
Will you read my novel before illustrating the cover?
Reading a complete novel takes a significant amount of time that isn’t normally included in my illustration rates. There’s nothing better for getting a feel for the characters and the story though! I also love reading fantasy books, that’s why I’m in the business after all. Even though I can’t promise you to read it, if you already have a finished version of your novel, feel free to send it over along with shorter descriptions of your character/story. You can also highlight certain scenes that you might want to suggest to be illustrated on the cover.
Have more questions?
Please email me email@example.com