How important is a brief for a cover design? Well, lets say it’s pretty important! How thoroughly or loosely you end up briefing will often depend on the relationship you have with the designer , if you’ve worked with them before and are you able to speak ‘visually’? There are of course seasoned art directors, publishers and editors who send out regular briefs for covers and know all the tricks to get the best out of your designer, I don’t have much for them except to say the ones I work with are brilliant and don’t need any help from me.
But what if you’ve never briefed before and are about to embark on getting a cover designed? Where do you start? What should your brief contain?
Here is my checklist for a guide to briefing a cover design :
- DO Include practical information, the dimensions of your book, what type you’d like to include on the cover.
- DO decide on a deadline for your roughs, and allow enough time for revisions. Loose-ended projects are difficult to structure. So decide on a print/release date and work backwards from there. A designer LOVES to have time to create stunning designs, let’s call it a reasonable 3 to 4 weeks (remember, freelancers are working across multiple projects at once!)
- DO Include a synopsis of the content or a manuscript if you have one ready. This gives the designer a good feel for what the book is about.
- DO think about who your market is. Who do you think the book should be, and could be appealing to? It’s important for a designer to know who they are targeting.
- DO include visual references (if you have style!) but expect it to be loose guidance.
- DO include keywords, ideas and moods that you think sums ideas up. I always find this a great way for designer and writers to meet.
- DO ask your designer what to expect over the various stages of the design process so there aren’t any surprises.
And a few DON’Ts:
- DON’T draw a picture of what you want in biro and send it to the designer (unless of course you have style!)
- DON’T let everybody give you an opinion on your cover designs that have been presented, too many cooks really do spoil the book! Be instinctive with your choices and if you are relying on opinions to help you, choose a small, select group wisely.
- And finally, DON’T send in a painting done by your neighbour that you insist on using (unless of course….)