Where to Start
Congrats! You’ve finished your collection of short stories, novel, novella, or any other manuscript musings! You’ve decided to self-publish since you’re just starting out and you know you don’t have the resources for a top-of-the-line graphic designer. So where do you go? What kind of skills are you looking for? Where do you find a great graphic designer at an affordable budget? Luckily, in today’s world there are tons of reputable websites with excellent freelancers who do superb work on time and on budget.

One of the first things you should consider as a writer is what kind of design you’re looking for. What does your book say with pixels? Many designers find it frustrating when their customer asks them to come up with several different designs and claim, “I’ll know it when I see it.” You want to work with your designer on an established idea. It takes quite a lot of time and effort for them to come up with various different ideas from your thousands-of-words book. Do yourself and them a favor and think up a general (or even better specific) idea of what you want before you contact a graphic designer.

Where to Go
The freelance marketplace is growing every day with more people having the ability to work from home and make a reasonable living freelancing. Take advantage of this change and grab a freelancer from a great database like oDesk, Elance or Mediabistro. Additionally, with the wealth of online writing resources, using the boards to reach out to other writers for advice is a great step to take.

  • oDesk:oDesk has a variety of freelancers that want to help you achieve your goals and make money at the same time. You can propose an hourly or fixed-price contract that will bend to any budget and you can search for specific attributes you want in a freelancer. oDesk has recently made updates to their system that make it easier for both freelancers and employers to find the jobs they want.
  • Elance: Elance is similar to oDesk (actually they just signed a merger and will official merge in April) in that it’s a cornucopia of freelancers available for work. Elance has skills tests and verification procedures that prove you are who you say you are and can do what you claim you can do. Also like oDesk, they have clients from all over the world so you can feel confident that the person you’ve selected is truly the right fit. Elance is a little different when it comes to payment as they send invoices rather than bill the client through the contract you’ve set up. Elance is yet another way for you to scan the marketplace for freelancers. Those available on Elance may not be available on oDesk and vise versa.
  • Mediabistro: Mediabistro has about 3 million visitors to their site daily and many are looking for freelancers. As a writer, you should invest some serious time into looking through all of the quality freelancers available on Mediabistro. Since their main focus is everything that has to do with publishing, writing, and media services, it may be easier to find a graphic designer there than oDesk or Elance because it does not include every discipline under the sun.
  • Grammarly: Grammarly is a superior hub for writers, editors, and anyone who wants to improve their writing. On top of that, they have excellent question and answer
  • boards where writers can converse about any topic they would like. For instance, you could ask the question, “Does anyone have a great
  • raphic designer they would suggest for a self-published book jacket?” You’ll get a response fast, know that it’s from a trusted resource, and you can query or research said artist.

How to Select the Right Graphic Designer
After initial contact with the graphic artist, make sure that they understand your idea and that you get samples of their work. They’re freelancing so they want to work for you and make money. They should always have samples available to allow clients to know what they’re paying for. You don’t necessarily have to become best friends with the freelancer but you want them to care about the quality of work they’re producing for you.

Talking to them on the phone or having a Skype interview will make it easy to see if you can work well together. No matter which site or freelancer you choose, make sure they have your ultimate goal in mind, that you communicate your ideas and expectations clearly, and that you always pay them well for their hard work.

By Nikolas Baron

Replace “Nikolas Baron” with the following HTML: Nikolas Baron.

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarlr’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling and reading.