When you have found a cover artist to hire, you need to make sure you communicate clearly what you want your cover to look like.
You can look for book covers of the same genre or similar stories as reference points. If you prefer a photography-based cover, you could look through online stock image databases for images you would like. Depending on your drawing/photoshop skills you can even do a sketch of what you have in mind.
Additional information you should give the cover artist
- Format requirements (especially with print books)
- Deadline (well before the publication date, since you will need to insert the cover as part of the production stage)
To make sure the cover artist catches the book’s atmosphere accurately, it is also very reasonable to provide them with a copy of the book. If they do not have the time to read the book, you should at least send them a blurb and synopsis.
Make sure the cover artists knows
- The genre
- The setting (contemporary, historical, urban etc.)
- Specific locations featured in your novel (architecture, atmosphere etc.)
- The book’s tone (brooding, humorous, adventurous etc.)
- If you have any particular colour or font preferences or aversions
- The protagonist if you wish them to featured on the cover (age, gender, hair colour/length, eye colour, tattoos, piercings, clothing style and period etc.)