When I originally decided to self-publish, I had no idea where to start, but I did know that I needed a cover that would draw people in. While everyone always says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the unfortunate reality is that if a person hates the cover of a book, there is little chance that they will choose that book over another book that has a much better cover design. This places a significant amount of pressure on the cover design, and I completely lack the artistic skills necessary to create one myself.
I literally googled, “How to get a cover design for a self-published book” and 99 Designs was one of the websites that came up. The concept seemed both interesting and intimidating to someone who was a complete novice, so I spent a significant amount of time on their website. I was looking at other cover designs that had been completed to determine whether I wanted to utilize the site and the budget I wanted to agree on. I also read and re-read the instructions prior to making the decision to use 99 Designs.
99 Designs allows for you to essentially set up a “competition” between artists to create your cover. It is incredibly important that you read the instructions very carefully and multiple times to make sure that you utilize the competition to the fullest.
First, you have to pick a budget. The budgets run between $299 and $1,100. Once you pick a budget and start a competition, you must pay the money. The money stays with 99 Designs until you pick a winner. The first three days of the competition are absolutely critical. After you provide all of the information that you think is necessary, artists begin “bidding” their work to you. You then rank the work and provide feedback so that the artists can update their sample covers. This is critical as it helps to narrow down which covers have true promise and which artists you communicate well with. After the first three days, you then must pick your top covers to go into the next round. At this point, the amount of money you’ve agreed to will be locked in and there is no refund, even if you aren’t satisfied with the final product. This is why it is so important to provide as much feedback as possible during the first three days. If you see a cover and you really like it, but provide no feedback until after the first three days, and the artist doesn’t respond to you for days after you finally say something, you may end up with a cover that isn’t what you want, and you are out of the money at that point.
If, after the first three days, you do not feel that you want to buy any of the covers, this is the only point at which you may stop the competition and receive a refund. Again, it is critical to read the fine print with how the process works and to pay close attention to the timelines throughout the process.
The last four days are to finalize exactly which cover you want and to pick a winner. After you pick a winner, the designer will typically still work with you, but there is no guarantee of that, so again, very important to provide feedback immediately and to make sure you communicate well with the designer prior to each deadline.
I ended up with a cover that I really like at a price that I found more than reasonable. I fully intend upon utilizing 99 Designs for the cover of my next book, The Wicked Cabal, due out in February 2017.