Welcome to this post series! If you’re unsure what this is or where I’m going with it, I’ll refer you back to this post for all the intro stuff. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in!
Does all this cover stuff seem like a lot of stuff to learn? Just because you could do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should. A lot of thought goes into successful cover creation, and an experienced artist brings skills and an eye for aesthetics to the table, not to mention a wealth of knowledge on best practices. A good designer is worth every penny, but is it possible to get that same goodness with half pennies?
Actually, yes. It’s totally possible to get a cover on the cheaper end, with the expertise of a pro included. A great way to cut down on expenses is to search through available premade covers. These are covers created by professionals, offered for sale with minimal alterations included. Those alterations should always be text changes (such as title and author name), but some may offer more options (this will be rare, but varies from designer to designer in what they consider to be a minimal alteration). There are Facebook groups dedicated to listing premade covers for sale, and individual designers may offer them direct. There are also website stores with wide varieties of premade covers searchable by genre and keywords, such as:
- TheBookCoverDesigner.com – Work directly with the designer after purchase to customize the cover. Wide variety of covers and artists. (Full disclosure: I have listings on this site here.)
- BookCoverZone.com – Alter the text yourself, additional customization is available as purchase upgrades, as are marketing images. High quality covers, very small pool of designers. Offers custom covers as well.
- SelfPubBookCovers.com – Alter the text yourself with limited options in the appearance. Lower quality and the interface can be glitchy.
- GoOnWrite.com – single designer, wide range of genres, direct communication with designer to make changes, lots of optional add-ons for extra fees
- TheCoverCollection.com – specific team of designers; only romance, fantasy, thrillers, horror, and sci-fi offerings; additional add-ons available; multiple rounds of edits offered
- Others marketplaces available with a web search
Of note: I personally checked out each of the above the sites to scope out their terms and quality of covers. While there are covers listed on some of them that are less than great, overall I feel very comfortable recommending them.
If you go with a premade, keep in mind that whole “perfect is the enemy of good” thing. If you cannot or don’t want to DIY, you may not find the exact depiction of your character or setting or whathaveyou, but the cost is lower than a custom image. And, honestly, there are SO many premades floating around (definitely check out those FB groups for new designs daily!), odds are very, very good you’ll find something that will mostly work, or may even be perfect.
Also with premade covers, a designer may be willing to work with you on changes to the image. I, personally, am very clear in what I’m willing to change, and does not include things like model swaps or hair swaps, as those are time-intensive and defeat the purpose of a premade. I would probably do an eye-color change, as that’s a pretty quick fix, but not the color of the clothing. I’d love to tell you “it doesn’t hurt to ask”, but, honestly, depending on the kind of day I’m having, I’ve outright ignored queries like this about premades in the past because I outlined in the item description what changes were included and got annoyed I was asked to do more work than what was offered. On the other hand, I’ve gone through 20+ rounds of changes on a cover for a friend or a consistent client without a single complaint, so YMMV. (insert sheepish wincing here)
Many premade covers will include additional elements (such as the text treatment as transparent background png, as previously mentioned), or may offer add-ons for small additional fees (like a print cover), but this varies really widely, so be sure to check the descriptions and terms before purchasing. All told, these can be a really great value for the money, so it’s worth checking out the selection available.
Premades aside, don’t discount hiring someone for a custom cover. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, but always do your research before hiring someone. Designer prices vary across the board from bargain bin prices on Fiverr (definitely a mixed bag of quality there) to the high-end-super-in-demand artist that’s scheduling bookings for 6-months+ out. Ask for recommendations from other authors and publishers and do web searches to find new-to-you artists, compare pricing/quality, read over terms of agreement (not having one of these is a little worrisome to me), and all of those things before jumping in to any business relationship. I actually have a whole entire post about working with a cover designer, which may help you on this subject. I would just remind you that “custom” doesn’t have to be expensive. For what it’s worth, my premades are only $25 cheaper than my custom covers (if bought direct through me and not via another platform), so something specially tailored to your story isn’t necessarily out of reach if your budget is tiny.
I think that about covers this topic, so let’s move on to my last post in this series about marketing images! (To be updated when the post is live.)