I need to find someone to design book covers for some books I’m working on. I stumbled across the website 99Designs, which offers cover design contests, charging as much as $800 for top lever designers.

Does anyone have any comments on 99Designs? Do you think this is the way to go?

My books include a couple series (state symbols and conspiracy), so it would be nice to find some sort of a consistent look across each series.

Thanks for any tips.

No, no, no, no, no! Don’t use contest sites!

Professional graphic designers don’t do work on the off chance they’ll get paid by winning a contest. We have bills to pay. What you’ll get on the contest sites are people overseas working in sweatshops, amateurs, high school kids, and people trying to make pocket change by ripping off other people’s work.

Instead, if you don’t know any designers you feel comfortable using, put your project on Upwork. Upwork is a freelancing site that enables you to post your work, then get bids from interested designers. You can look through the portfolios of those interested, then negotiate with the one you think will do the best job.


Thanks, I’ll take your advice.

On a weird note, your avatar looks SO similar to an image I’m using one of my book covers - a book about conspiracy, no less. I’m not accusing you of conspiracy, however. :wink:


How many book covers do you have to create?

I’d rather help you out than see you go down the wrong path.

Seems like you’ve had a bad experience with designers.

I’d like to turn that experience on it’s head.

I mean - the person is a graphic design forum and the first thing we do is push them to another platform - when there’s supposedly at least a two dozen seasoned designers replying here each day.

I get that nobody wants to work for free - and I’m not suggesting that.

And on that note - can we change the thread title to remove the crowdsourcing name?

I also appreciate and celebrate everything @Just-B said too.

We change the name of 5r to say zombo.com, which is something of an inside joke that likely baffles everyone else. I just changed the settings to change the name of the 99 thing to (contest site automatically removed). But it only works retroactively.

I could manually change any references to 99 whatever. But this forum ranks pretty high in the search engines, and I sort of like the idea of people searching for those places and ending up here where they are warned by working designers to stay away from them and to ignore their slick marketing.

I’m seeing pros and cons. What does everyone else think?

Yes, that’s true.

When I just googled Book Cover Design I get hit with 5 or 6 ‘ads’ that are paid for to steer people there.

So if I was looking for a book cover design, the first thing I see is 3 crowdsourcing sites, a website builder, and a free online design service.

I’d likely not look past the first 6 or 7 postings on a google search.

But happy to go with forum opinion on this - after all, what’s a forum for?

Yeah, I suspect these companies have flooded the internet with ads and phony glowing reviews, which would drown out anything written here for search engine placement.

It’s pretty sad really. Unfortunately, for us, search engines need to get paid, and whoever pays the most gets seen first. They don’t care about much else other than making a buck.

Plus, those sites get funded per click - which is one reason I never click the ads offered up on search engines.

But it’s the way it works.
Unless GDF starts paying for adverts on Google… not much that can done in that regard.

I’m learning the ropes regarding editing, book cover design, formatting, promotion, etc. On several occasions, I’ve typed the names of companies or individuals I was about to do business with into the Better Business Bureau’s website and discovered they were total scams.

So it definitely pays to do your homework. :wink:

How many covers do I need?

You probably won’t believe me, but about half a dozen or more. I’ve been working on a variety of projects for several years, patiently letting them evolve as I continue doing research and gathering information.

Suddenly, a bunch of them seem to be nearing completion all at once.

I published two books in January, then decided to go back and do it right, having them edited and hiring someone to design better covers for them. And I hope to publish about four more books this summer.

What makes it interesting is that some of my books are in series. I’m working on two state symbols references, along with another book about the United States’ national symbols.

I also need covers for two books about conspiracy, and I hope to publish a third book about conspiracy next year or so.

So I’m trying to figure out a way to kill two birds with one stone - come up with some kind of design that can be modified to work with two similar books.

I thought I had pretty good artistic skills, but every cover design I post online gets a thumbs down. This is my latest attempt for my two state symbols references. I thought the one on the left was really nice, but people complain that the pictures of the symbols are “mismatched.”

I don’t even understand what that means. A book about flowers would logically feature pictures of flowers on the cover, and a book about symbols should feature pictures of symbols. I don’t know how to “match” them.

I just hired someone to create a cover for my book China vs USA. He said he’s going to create six different designs and let me choose my favorite. So it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Conspiracy is an intriguing challenge. How could such a book cover not feature a UFO or pyramid and all-seeing eye?

Yet those are just one far out facet of conspiracy. For my book Conspiracy Science, I’d prefer to create the kind of cover you’d see on a science text. The guy who’s editing my first conspiracy book, said I should connect conspiracy with “true crime” stories, which are very popular.

Lots to learn.

Because it’s obvious, over used, and unoriginal.

I don’t know if it’s the reason there’s a bee on the cover of your book, but bees are one of Earth’s best examples of conspiracy. No bee acts alone, ever.

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Those things being associated with “conspiracy” is a result of societal misguidance. In fact, conspiracy has wrongly become a dirty word of sorts, negative connotations having overcome its literal definition. I was reminded of this just a while back when a client of mine was working on a new floor plan for his department, and explained how he was locating certain personnel, whose respective competencies were symbiotic, in close proximity to each other to “encourage them to conspire”.

The illustration styles are inconsistent, which is a hallmark of amateur design. My 10 year old niece has to design reports and powerpoints for school presentations and this is what they look like, because she grabs whatever is available from Microsoft clip art or the internet. It’s a haphazard visual mix of styles. So there are things that are photo-realistic, objects with shading and dimension, others without. The fleur de lis is a one color line drawing, the shell is a woodcut style. The corn cob and rose are simple, stylized illustrations. The bird is a realistic painting. Visually, you’re all over the place. It reads like this is a publisher who takes shortcuts.

Design 101: there is power in unity. Each element of the design should feel like it belongs in the group.

One possible solution is you have an illustrator redraw all these elements in the same matching style.

The image I discovered isn’t a bee; it’s the death’s head hawk moth.


I see.

In the first book, the flag, rose and arrowhead coat of arms look like the same style to me. What would you call it - line art?

So if I hired someone to convert the bluebird into line art, that would be an improvement?

On the second book, the seashell (conch) and white fleur de lis at the base of the ear of corn are outlined with a black line. Ditto for the arrowhead coat of arms. So I should hire someone to outline the other pictures in back, too?

Or should I just give each design to an artist and ask them to “make all the images look the same”?

Also, I understand what people mean by “mismatched” now, but it still looks just fine to me. Do you think the average person would look at either cover and say “Amateurish!” or are trained graphic artists just more discriminating?

A good designer isn’t someone whose role is to simply follow instructions. A good designer analyzes problems and then provides suggestions and solutions.

Assuming you locate a good designer by carefully reviewing portfolios and reviews, a better approach will be to describe the book cover design problem as you see it rather than providing what you think is the solution to the problem.

For example, you could say, “I need a clean, visually attractive book cover that will make people curious enough to look inside. Since the book is about state symbols, the cover needs to communicate what’s inside visually. State symbols come in many different shapes and styles, so one of the problems is incorporating some of these symbols into a visually cohesive cover instead of having the cover come across as a collection of mismatched objects.

Don’t restrict the designer to your preliminary ideas of how to solve the problem. That’s what you’re paying them to do.

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I don’t know. If you think it works for your intended audience, publish it and put it out there, and if it doesn’t get the sales you are looking for, change the cover. To Kill a Mockingbird has been around for 60 years and has had a couple hundred different covers.

Consumers don’t intellectualize things like this. They will not think twice about the cover. Instead, they’ll have a subtle, subconscious emotional response that either draws them to the book or lets them pass by without noticing or caring. The goal is to elicit positive subconscious feelings that will encourage them to want to know more. Discriminating tastes aren’t the issue; the problem is designing a book cover that results in target audience engagement.