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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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Thomas McGee
Thomas McGee

I'm a book cover designer who specializes in market-centric, well-researched, book jackets and covers.

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Eva Ruutopõld
Eva Ruutopõld

Ready to help. Ready to listen. Ready to make it great and keep it on budget and on time.

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Lizzie Gardiner
Lizzie Gardiner

I am a creative designer specialising in design services relating to books with over 13 years design experience

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Mitch Frey
Mitch Frey

Portland, Oregon based illustrator, 23 freelance years, offering woodcut, flat graphic, hippie vector, and retro poster styles.

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Heather O'Connell
Heather O'Connell

Helping you negotiate the complex world of book production, turning your creative vision into a commercial reality.

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