So, you've either been offered a contract (yay!) or you've decided to self-publish (yay!), either way, you're going to be working with an artist. Some presses don't allow you to work directly with the artist, but you'll still be able to hopefully comment on your work and offer a little input should the result not be to your expectations. Please (I seriously beg you) understand, the artists doesn't always get it right on the first try, and maybe not even the second either. That being said however, we aren't miracle workers. We're limited by what we're able to see as a cover based on your form and what the stock companies have for photographs. This means, if you have a specific image in mind, like a snapshot, chances are a photographer has NOT taken that picture. *grin* You're going to have to trust us to give you the next best thing. Be patient with the process, and know your artist IS doing their very best.
Your form, or the information the artist asks for, is very important. Be as specific as possible here. Photographs and covers you've fallen in love with in the past DO help. They show the style you prefer. From dark and gothic, to clean and romantic, style is everything. Don't expect a clone of that cover, then it wouldn't be yours, but showing the artist what your preferences are will help guide them on what to do and not do, to create a final product. For example, I'm a color diva, anyone who follows my work knows I adore color. I also adore textures, which gives most covers a grungy, artistic feel. Some authors really prefer clean lines, without any texture or massive amounts of color. While not impossible for me to achieve, it does force me to move outside of my comfort zone and create something different from my personal style. I need to know this before I design your cover or you won't like what lands in your inbox.
Make sure when filling out your form, you let the artist know what's really important to you concerning the cover. Should there be a wolf? A tiger? A necklace of some kind? Maybe a key? An element to your story that's vital that you want conveyed in some manner. Also be sure to say what you DON'T want. I love it when my authors say "Please, nothing bright or happy" or even "I know this is a haunted house story, but I don't want a haunted house, I want it to focus more on the couple and the tension". This tells me so much about what feeling you want your cover to portray. So don't be afraid to tell your artist your dislikes too.
There are so many talented artists out there, you're SURE to find one that fits not only the vision of what you want in a cover, but your budget as well. If you're being published with a publisher, pay close attention to their covers and really ask yourself, are those the type of covers I want on my book? Books ARE judged by their covers, and choosing a publisher is a decision that should not be taken lightly. You want to market your book and show off your cover, not hide it under the bed. So be choosy, you should be when it comes to your hard work.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Haven't seen my work yet? Go check it out at For the Muse Design.