A question I get all the time when running marketing campaigns for and coaching authors is: How much does a book cover cost?
Well, as with most things in life, there isn't a true one answer but let's break it down.
Prices for a book cover vary between $25-$950 depending on the level of customization, quality, and experience of the designer. Before deciding on how much you’re going to pay want, you need to think your overall marketing budget of the goal of the book.
Let's dig into our options within this range.
The Importance of a Great Book Cover
Imagine that you are walking into a book store on the hunt for a new book. What is the first thing that you look at when scanning the racks? The cover, of course. Your eyes stop at the book covers that entice them. In this micro-second of pausing, your brain sets other processes in motion.
Either it only needed a quick stop to assess the book and then commands the eyes to continue scanning. Alternatively, it instructs the hand to pick up the book for a closer inspection. This inspection entails a closer examination of the cover, followed by a flipping motion to see the back of the book.
Now imagine your hardcover book is out there on the rack or your eBook on the digital shelves online. The first impression is the most crucial factor to consider regarding sales and marketing. The first exposure any potential buyer has toward your book is the cover, followed by the blurb.
Off the bat, there are two critical things to consider. First, the more you put in, the more you will get out. The more resources you utilize (time, money, opinions), the closer you get to the optimal product.
Secondly, the book cover design isn't for you but for your readers. You might think that the photo of you getting sick by a dumpster outside the nightclub is funny, but your potential matches might be disgusted. The same applies to your book cover. Of course, it is essential that you like it too, but it is more important to resonate with potential buyers.
How much should you pay?
If only we had an easy answer for you. Unfortunately, we don't. Your budget is the number one metric that you should consider, and it differs from person to person. This article will illustrate the different options and ballpark figures, but in the end, how much you will spend will depend on you.
Written Word Media did an interesting study regarding three different sets of authors. They identified the first group, 'Emerging Authors', as authors with an income of under $60,000 a year. The second set of authors, '60kers', earn more than $60,000 per year. The last group is called '100kers', and yes, you guessed it, these authors earn more than $100,000 per year.
Now, consider which set of authors you belong to and have a look at the following outcomes.
It's interesting that so many emergency authors design their own covers. As you'll see further into this article, unless you have a design background, I do not recommend you design your cover yourself. Trust me, I've been there. It will take you hours and you still won't come up with as good as a professional. If you're on a budget, check out GetCovers.com that will create one for you for as low as $10!
With that being said, let's look closer into what authors are paying for covers.
From these graphs, it is clear that the $100-$249 is the sweet spot. Another interesting observation is that there isn't a clear correlation between income earned versus the cost of book covers. This is in contradiction to the assumption made earlier regarding 'earn more spend more.
If you go beyond a specific limit, the increase in quality becomes stagnant. For instance, how much better could a professional book cover designer make a book cover if you increase the budget from $1000 to $5000. The odds are that the average potential buyer won't even see the difference. So why bother spending more money on it?
How much could you expect to pay?
This section will look at some options at your disposal, ranging from affordable to expensive. There are other options to consider, but these are the most popular options amongst readers of all income segments.
Make Your Own Cover- Free
Except if you are an experienced graphic designer, it is highly recommended that you do not go for this option. If you seriously are strapped for cash and have no other choice, then here are some options for you.
If you really want to prevent people from giving your book a second glance and make your book marketing impossible, use a free cover from KDP Cover Creator. The designs are outdated and unattractive, to say the least. It looks like they were created on a 2001 Microsoft Publisher program.
Just because these covers are free doesn't mean that you should settle for them. KDP Cover Creator is not the only option for free book covers out there. That is why we include other free options below so that you won't make the mistake of settling for a KDP Cover Creator cover.
Canva is a free graphic design platform and has become very popular with non-designers during the last couple of years. It is straightforward to use, and the free version offers lots of free services and resources. You will also find free book cover templates at your disposal.
Yes, some people just use Word!
If your budget is really tight, then we'll just go and ignore other design software such as Adobe Suite. Still, if you could write a book, you probably already have Word at your disposal. You'll need to source your stock photos from sites such as Pexels.com and download more fonts from fonts.google for free, but the bottom line is that you could do it. There are a few instructional videos and blogs online that you would find with a quick Google search.
Pre-Made Covers (Lowrange)- $20-$250
Imagine you were invited to a wedding and you needed a new dress. Unlike the bride, you would simply go to the mall or boutique and see what they have there and what you like. Pre-made covers work the same way.
Designers create covers, and you simply select one that resonates with your story. You could find companies and individual designers advertising their products on social media platforms. The prices vary and could be anything from $20-$250.
Make sure that the one you choose is unique and that the designer is not selling the same design to other clients. It is strongly advised that you do proper research before selecting a designer or cover.
Great place to find these are on social media platforms. Instagram is especially an excellent place to search for relevant hashtags like #bookcover #fantasybookcover etc.
Customized Design (Entry Level) - $25
Make sure that your cover is unique, appeals to your target audience, and reflects the true identity of your book. Customizing the cover is the best way to tick all the necessary boxes, and the good news is that you don't have to pay an arm or a leg for it either.
Getcovers.com is a company that will design your cover to your specific needs for as little as $25. This Ukrainian-based company uses entry-level designers that are still in the process of building their portfolios. This, along with the favorable exchange rate, allows the company to charge low prices to their consumers.
Just because they are entry-level designers doesn't mean that you would be getting poor-quality designs. The reviews for the company are overwhelmingly positive. For instance, the company received a perfect 5-star rating on Facebook from 136 satisfied users.
Customized Design (Midrange)- $25 - $500
Fiverr.com is a platform where clients meet freelancers from numerous industries. There are thousands of designers available on Fiverr offering various services that also include professional book cover designing.
It is challenging to place Fiverr.com in a particular segment as you could be paying as little as $5 per cover, but some freelancers could start at $300 and go beyond $700.
Going for the cheaper options might be a tedious and time-consuming task. You might have to go through various iterations before you finally get to the desired outcome. Make sure that you select a freelancer with a high rating and read the testimonials too. The higher the rating, the better your chances of striking it lucky.
Miblart.com is another company from the same Ukrainian owners of Getcovers.com. This company provides a higher-end service by using experienced designers. Even though the designers are more expensive, the exchange rate difference still plays into your favor. That is why you would likely pay less for the same type of professional designer on your home turf.
The process of obtaining your final product could be somewhat lengthy, but there is a good reason for that. The design process includes a thorough analysis of your book's content, the target market, the genre, etc. Miblart.com will supply you with a sketch of the design as a starting point of discussion. Unlimited revisions are included in the price, which means you could send it back and forth for editing until you are satisfied.
You could expect to pay minimum of $150 for the design, which includes everything mentioned above.
Customized Design (High-end)- $500+
Suppose it is high-end, unique designs and uber professional service that you are after. In that case, we suggest using one of our tried and tested suppliers.
Booksmith Designs from Australia offers services such as creating bespoke cover designs, providing visual toolkits, and author brand development.
From the book cover design perspective, they offer three different design packages. There is the e-book and paperback option for $545, the two-book series for $945, and the three-book series for $1345. They include all the bells in whistles, revisions, and also a 3D mockup of the book, which looks fantastic for marketing purposes.
Is very similar to Fiverr but more expensive. You can create your briefing and post it directly to a designer on this platform, or you could create a contest and allow designers to bid for your contract. According to their official website, clients could expect to pay between $279 to $999 for a professional book cover design that includes copyright.
One thing to be aware of before going in is that there are many upsells that can easily up the costs by 10%-50%.
Pro tip: Avoid making your project a guaranteed payout. We've done this before and was not happy with any of the submissions. Had to pay additional fees to extend the project before finding a design we liked. Would have preferred to just go in another direction.
Reedsy has a marketplace that provides author services such as editing, design, ghostwriting, and more. It is where many authors in the self-publishing industry go to find freelancers to work for them.
On Reedsy, you would find some of the best designers in the field but you'll also pay for it. Browse through their impressive resumes and select one or create the contest for them to come to you. Although they are more pricey, the service you will get in return would be worth it.
Reedsy has another free critique service that could interest you if you want to test your cover, but more about that later.
What to Give the Cover Designer
Transparent communication between you and your designer is vital, and it could save you a lot of time and frustration.
Depending on which service or freelancer you use, the amount of information you provide might differ. In general, be prepared to provide at least three samples of covers selling well in your genre. With all my coaching clients, we do an extensive exercise, including identifying our target market. If you want to know more, check out our coaching page.
This presubmission exercise could already get the creative juices of the designer flowing in the right direction.
Make sure that the designer understands the genre of your book and how it fits into it. The designer doesn't need to read the entire book, but you need to give him more to work with than the information from the blurb.
Lastly, make sure to instruct the designer that the design should be on point and reflect the reader's expectations. The cover is not the ideal place to experiment with abstract art. Instead, let the book cover indicate to the reader what the book is about. If it is not on target, you will get many false clicks, which would negatively impact your click-through rate, which we will talk about later.
Should you design it yourself?
We mentioned before that this is a bad idea, except if you are incredibly strapped for cash or an experienced designer. Putting all that time and effort and writing your book could be wasted if you opt for a poor homemade book cover. Instead, opt for a $25 design from bookcovers.com if you are in a tight spot.
How to Make Sure Your Cover is Good
Before you go to market
For this exercise, you need to keep emotion out of your decision. Try and stay as objective as possible.
Take your cover and select three or four other covers from your category. Try to go for the best-selling books. Now decrease their size and put them all together so that you can have a birdseye view of them all.
Again, be very objective and try to detect what is different from your book and how you could improve the design.
When the book is on the market
Here is a way to see if the cover is catching the eye of potential buyers. Run Amazon ads and check to see your click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percentage of time that people see your book cover and proceed to click on it. Your CTR should at least be close to 0.1%. If it is not close to that, then you need to investigate. You need to find out why the CTR is so low, as it would have detrimental effects on sales.
How to test your covers
Remember we said in the beginning that your potential buyers' opinion about the cover is more important than your own. It is crucial that you test your book cover and get input before going to the market.
Test for free
Go online and find forums or social media pages to post the covers and receive comments from visitors. Please don't send it to close friends and family for critique as their opinions would not be objective.
We discussed Reedsy previously and mentioned a free critique service that they offer. You can let the professional cover designers from Reedsy critique your cover for free. Reedsy provides this free service every few months to clients or potential clients, but you need to register in advance.
Paid testing - Pickfu
Alternatively, if you have two samples but are unsure which would be more effective in the market, you can test them using Pickfu.com. At Pickfu.com, you can post your samples and get responses from at least 50 people within a couple of hours.
You will get a 10% discount on your first order if you use this link.
This was the in-depth breakdown to answer the age-old question: How much should a cover cost
After making it down to the bottom, what freelancer or company are you going to go with?