Last week we discussed how editing is the most worthwhile (and likely the costliest) investment you’ll make in the self-publishing process (you can read the post here in our blog archive). This week we’re exploring the next facet of self-publishing that’s incredibly important in terms of a book’s successful launch and career—the book cover design. A book cover is comprised of several elements: the front cover, the back cover, the spine, a book “blurb”/back matter and sometimes an author bio and headshot. Each part of your cover plays a vital role in the overall marketability of your book, as well as whether it projects the right message to readers in terms of genre and style. Ultimately you want your self-published book cover and blurb to do these things:
- Look high-quality and eye-catching (on a quality level of traditionally published book covers).
- Convey a message that is in line with the book’s actual genre.
- Concisely and correctly detail the storyline with a hook that compels the reader to buy.
Book Cover Design: Invest or Save?
This is another big-ticket item you do not want to cut corners on if you hope to launch your book successfully and give it the longevity needed for years afterward. A book’s cover is the first thing a reader notices and oftentimes determines whether they pick it up (or click the “buy” button) after that first important introduction. If your book cover is too busy, has text that’s hard to read, evokes the incorrect genre or is generally unappealing, you will lose the opportunity to win that reader over with your prose (and your book will scream “self-published”). Online book distributors are already inundated with cheap and unprofessional self-published covers—just as with editing, investing in a more expensive and better-quality book cover from the start will immediately separate your work from the rest.
The Typical Cost of Cover Design
Book cover design is another area with a lot of variability in cost per freelancer/design service. Larger companies with a staff of designers like damonza.com may charge more per package and are not usually open to negotiation on price. If you’re not on a time crunch, it can be really useful to find other self-published authors’ covers that you like and reach out to the designer personally or use a service like Reedsy to receive quotes from freelance cover designers in their database. When comparing prices, a general guideline for the cost should hover around these fees:
- $100-150 for a premade e-book cover (only the title, author name and book blurb need to be added).
- $300-500 for a personalized book cover from an up-and-coming designer that includes front, back, spine and two formats: e-book and print.
- $500-$800 from a designer/design service with 5+ years of experience, including both e-book and print formats.
- $800-1,500 from an incredibly experienced designer who’s worked on bestsellers and likely has a background in traditionally published work.
The amount of included revisions will vary with each freelancer and service and should be discussed beforehand, as well as copyright, payment terms, contracts, etc.
Affordable Options for DIY-ers
There is one caveat to the “professionally designed” book cover rule that most self-publishers should abide by: selling in e-book format only.
- Canva: This free-to-use graphic design website offers thousands of royalty-free photos, fonts, and designs that can be used for e-book covers. Though there’s a bit of a learning curve, the entrepreneurial self-published e-book author can design some nice covers that are available for download for $1 to be used indefinitely. This is the perfect choice for short stories or novellas that are being published in quick succession and won’t require a print edition.
- Designing from scratch with stock photos of your own: Another inexpensive option for the really creative is to find royalty-free photos online or take your own and design a book cover with a program like Adobe Spark or Adobe Photoshop.
Come back next week for our discussion on interior formatting costs and design options, and contact us anytime to go over your book project and editing, ghostwriting and/or marketing needs! Midnight Publishing: Based in Phoenix and trusted with over 10 million words since 2007.