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Book cover illustration

As we mention in our book cover design page, there are several techniques designers and art directors can employ to create a custom book cover. Illustration is just one of them, and though not always the cheapest option, it is can really set you apart from the competition. Since illustrations are unique and each one is the product of an artist's imagination and technique, you can be sure that no other cover in your genre will look the same. Illustrated covers work particularly well in certain genres and for certain atmospheres. "Cozy" books, for example, often have illustrated covers with vivid, pastel or darker tones depending on the genre: cozy mysteries, cozy romance, or women's fiction. Here are a few illustrated covers that one of our designers did for a literary agency’s cozy crime estate, for example.

Reedsy's illustrators: a variety of styles

To see the full range, just filter the marketplace by ‘illustration’ and check them out for yourself.

Interior illustrations: does my book need to be "illustrated"?

Not all books require illustrations, however if you're writing in any of the following genres, working with a skilled illustrator will definitely take your book to the next level:

  • Children's picture books or illustrated stories
  • Comic books and graphic novels
  • School books and textbooks
  • Humor books
  • Other illustrated non-fiction

Of course, you might want to turn a novel of yours that did well into an illustrated book, or a comic book. This works particularly well in speculative fiction. Here is a good example of an author who leveraged his first novel’s success to crowdfund and release a graphic novel: https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-self-publish-a-graphic-novel

Is my freelance illustrator also going to format the book?

Illustration and formatting (or layout design) are two separate services that require very different software and skills. That is not to say that many illustrators, especially in children’s books, also take care of the layout, typography and formatting, but you will also find many illustrators who are just that – illustrators. So if you’re looking for a full-stack designer who will illustrate, typeset and format your book, make sure you mention in your brief that you are looking for illustration and book layout design.

Should I partner with an illustrator (royalty-share) or pay per illustration?

Authors are often tempted to share royalties when producing new formats like audiobooks, translations, or comic / illustrated books. Whilst this is certainly a tempting option, in our experience it is almost impossible to convince a talented, sought-after illustrator to work with you solely on the hope of future revenue from book sales. It is likely to be completely impossible if you are a self-published and/or a relatively new author. This is why all illustrators on Reedsy charge authors by the illustration, and this will be reflected in their quotes.

Connect with a professional illustrator

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Tom Sanderson
Tom Sanderson

Tom Sanderson is a designer specialising in book cover design. If you are interested in working together please get in touch.

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Patrizia Donaera
Patrizia Donaera

I’m specialized in children's publishing and natural history. I’ve illustrated more than 35 books, my experience is over 27 years.

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Laura Barrett
Laura Barrett

London based freelance illustrator and designer with 9 years experience, specialising in fairy tales and silhouette

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Jason Storey
Jason Storey

Experienced and diligent print, packaging, and production designer. Enjoying design in all its forms.

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Mia Marie Overgaard
Mia Marie Overgaard

Danish professional illustrator. Style: Soft, colorful and dreamy.

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