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How to create your Author “Pit Crew” Part 5: Graphic Artist #Author #TipsandTricks

by on August 23, 2017

Most people think of authors as solitary creatures who hide out in a dimly lit office pecking away at their keyboard and tearing their hair out in fat chunks while they slave over their newest book.

Okay, so that’s a fairly accurate description, but in my world, the office is replaced by my living room, and instead of pulling out my hair—I chew my fingernails. However, I don’t do it alone.

No, I have a whole TEAM of people who help me get my books released. For the next couple of weeks I’m going to break down what to look for in your “Pit Crew” and how to find them.

Back up and read

Part 1: Beta Readers×1  

Part 2: Editors 

Part 3: Author’s Assistant

Part 4: Social Media Manager


Graphic Artist

dreamstime_m_72032983What’s your brand? What’s your image?

I can hear you panicking already. While I know it’s daunting to think in such a wide open frame, it’s also very important that new authors consider their “Brand” early in their publishing career.  I’ll dig into what your “Brand” is in another post, because here I want to talk about finding a great graphic artist to help you.

As an author, our book covers and teasers are our billboards and commercials. They’re the first contact we have with readers and if they aren’t eye-catching, the readers will move on. It’s incredibly important that your cover art work match the genre of your story, and I recommend that new authors look at the top selling books in their genre to get a frame of reference for what book covers are selling. It changes constantly based on reader whims, so do your due diligence here. When you approach a graphic artist about creating your cover or your marketing images, you should already have some ideas or even examples ready to show them. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t able to reach into your brain and pull out the perfect image for your book, so you have to give them a starting point.

How do you find a graphic artist to begin with?

Option 1: Author networking. Ask authors you’ve built relationships with and respect for recommendations. People don’t normally recommend someone they didn’t like working with, so this is your best option. It’s like asking your neighbor for the name of their lawn service. Most authors are happy to reveal the artist they use because they want to keep using them. They know that part of business is based on referral. Below you’ll find a few links to artist’s I’ve worked with directly and would recommend personally.

Option 2: Similar to the first, I’d suggest using Facebook networking groups for authors and artists. There are dozens of Facebook groups that are dedicated to connecting authors and artists specifically. In them you’ll find artists posting their work publically to show you what they’re capable of. The group is not a referral though, so don’t assume everyone is on the up and up. Do your research! Here are a couple of groups easily found:

dreamstime_m_79522542Book Covers and Cover Artists

Book Cover Collaborations

Book Covers

The Book Cover Designer

Looking for Book Cover Models

Option 3: Google. Yep, just google book cover artist and you’ll get hundreds of links. Mind you, this is like throwing a piece of bread in a pond and hoping the one swan picks it up before the five hundred ducks descend on it. Using this method, you won’t have a personal recommendation to go on, so it’s extremely important that you look at their work and ask for references.


Once you’ve gotten some suggestions it’s time to do your research.

A graphic artist should be able to give you a list of clients they’ve worked with. In fact, many keep a gallery of their work on their website or Facebook page. Peruse through it. Bookmark the ones that draw you in, and even the ones you dislike. When you start narrowing down your search results, it will help you weigh the pros and cons of each artist.

You’ll also want to consider customer loyalty. An artist who has return clients, should get more consideration. If it were a point system, each return customer would count as two points, and individual customers would only be one point. People don’t come back when they’re unhappy, so if you see an artist who’s made 5-10 covers for several different authors, they’re making someone happy.

Last, but probably the most important factor to a NEW author, is price. This can vary WIDELY. I mean very widely. I have paid as little as $30 for a premade cover, to $650 for a custom cover with an exclusive image. Set a budget that you know you can afford and immediately remove the artists from your list that do not fit in your budget. You can come back to them later when you’re making more money, but you have to be realistic in the beginning. Not many brand new authors can afford to invest hundreds of dollars into their cover art, and that’s okay. You don’t need to necessarily. Just remember that graphic artists will use stock images in most cases. If you want an exclusive image (meaning you’re the only one who has it) you’ll likely have to buy it from the photographer and provide it to your graphic artist. Although, there are a few like Sara Eirew and RLS Images who are both amazing photographers and cover artists.

When you approach the graphic artist, do so professionally. You might be paying them, but that doesn’t mean they’re your employee. They have a talent that you don’t, and a service you need. Being demanding or rude will only get you crappy artwork. Remember the old saying “You catch more flies with honey, than vinegar?” Yeah, apply that here.

Hopefully this will help you find an artist or two you love and respect, as well as a future business partner. If you find someone who does a great job, be sure to refer them to others! They need our help to grow their business too. Below you’ll find some of the artists I’ve used and recommend.

Please feel free to share links to other graphic artists in the comments! I know there are many out there!

Good luck, and watch for Part 6 – Street Teams


My Referral List –

***Note I have personally worked with each of these artists/photographers.

Sinfully Sweet Graphic Designs

Sara Eirew Photographer

RLS Model Images Photography

Willsin Rowe

Andy Atkins



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