How Much Does a Book Cover Design Cost?

It's normal that when you're self-publishing a book for the first time, questions arise. And guess what? Most of them are about the costs associated to it.

Since you're basically doing everything on your own, you'll need to take into account things like proofreading, professional editing, book formatting, professional book cover design, marketing, etc., and preferably, without breaking the bank.

A very common question I've come across several times on Social Media is:

How much will it cost me to get my book cover designed?

Before we delve deep into this, let's think about the importance of the cover of your book to you. We know you're on a budget, but is it worth to neglect the need of a professionally designed book cover?

Short answer: No. Book covers sell, even if the old saying urges us to "not judge a book by its cover". As a book blogger and self-proclaimed bookworm, I've lost count of the times I've picked up books purely based on being wowed by the cover. So if a nice book cover is enough to make you stand out among dozens of requests in a blogger's inbox, imagine how important that same nice book cover will be when someone stumbles upon your book while browsing through the infinite options on Amazon. You have one chance to make a good first impression on your potential readers - don't waste it.

Okay, I hear you, you want me to go straight to the actual numbers of book cover design costs. How much, realistically enough, should you expect to pay? This is what you want to know. And this is probably not the answer you will want to hear: But it depends.

 

how much does book cover design cost

 

How do prices vary and what options do you have?

You'll find book cover design services ranging from $5 (believe it or not) to $4000. Now are these realistic numbers? Can a professional truly afford selling you a book cover for a price that wouldn't even cover the costs of licensing the stock images or artwork? And should you even risk the possibility of having a book cover design that will potentially get you into copyright infringement trouble?

You want a book cover that suits your needs, that is reasonably priced, but you want to understand its value, and what you're paying for.

Which brings us to the next point...

How to analyze book cover design pricing options?

Things that you should take into account when considering going for either a cheaper or more expensive option.

1. Exclusive Artwork

If you want something 100% exclusive, you can commission an illustrator, painter or artist to draw something from scratch. There are a few artists that specialize in book covers but maybe not many so you can just send the finalized art piece to a Book Designer who will take care of the typography and all the rest for you. This is applicable to photography too, you can commission a photographer instead.

Either way, these are the costs to take in consideration: The actual commission for the artwork, purchasing the rights to use the artwork for commercial purposes, purchasing exclusive rights to the artwork so it's not used anywhere else by anyone else.

  • Value: Very High. You'll get an unique book cover, illustration and design. You won't find a cover remotely similar to yours.
  • Price: Very High.

 

2. Photo Manipulation and Typography 

This is the most common approach for most book cover designers, and mine as well. Stock images are used, purchased and licensed, and they're included in the final price. Since stock images, even premium, are fairly common, they are combined and manipulated to create a specific concept and make the book cover unique, even if others have used those images before. In some cases, only typography is used, but in creative ways.

  • Value: High. Others might have used the same images, but if the photo manipulation is done right, then they are used in an unique way (barely recognizable in some cases) to create an unique concept.
  • Price: Medium-High.

 

3. Your own photo or art

If you're lucky enough to be a creative type, such as a photographer or drawer, then you can use your own material to be incorporated into your book cover design. I'd still recommend you to hire a professional Book Cover Designer to work on the typography and edit your photography.

  • Value: High. It's both the uniqueness of your work and a professional's touch combined.
  • Price: Low-High (depending on the level of editing required).

 

4. Premade Book Covers

These are usually book covers that have been previously designed and are now available to sell. Many are one-of-a-kind, meaning they'll only be sold once. However, some sellers make them available to be sold numerous times, so be sure you know the terms before you purchase. You can chose from a wide range and customize them by adding your own book name and author name, and in some cases, even changing some colors.

  • Value: Medium. You can get a nice looking cover but, depending on the seller's terms, there's the strong possibility that others are using the same as yours. The other downside is that the book cover has not been custom designed to meet your specific needs, and you weren't involved in its creation.
  • Price: Medium-High (normally the cheapest will be sold more than once).

 

5. Big Name Designers

Big Name Designers have worked for famous authors or publishing houses, therefore they'll charge you more due to the experience and expertise.

  • Value: High-Very High. You're hiring someone who has experience in the industry and has worked with big names, so it's almost certain that they will bring value to the table. Either way, you'll get a good design.
  • Price: Very High.

 

6. Crowdsourcing platforms

Without wanting to go into a debate (there are many already about this topic), this is one of the options I'd least recommend. Crowdsourcing platforms basically give you the option to launch a Design Contest and have Designers submit entries (finished work, supposedly) while competing against each other. Despite the fact you have a good amount of designers working on your project, only one of them will be paid, the contest winner.

Why would someone want to put so much time and effort in something that they'll most likely won't be paid for? You might ask. And my personal opinion is, they don't. These designers don't have the time to dig deeper, understand your project and briefing, your audience, your motivations and inspirations, your tone and essence. Also, instead of trying to liaise with a sole designer in order to give feedback and work on accurate revisions that will make your project move forward, you're stuck with an overwhelming number of 'initial concepts' that you have to chose and judge. The vision and concept should be something to be worked between you and the Designer you chose, not have a bunch of random concepts without a clear solution.

  • Value: Very Low. When hiring a Designer, you're hiring him for the skills, expertise, and possibility of communicating and moving a project forward.
  • Price: Medium. (you won't get a much cheaper cover design either)

 

7. Dubiously Low Prices

Be aware of those who sell book covers for a dubiously cheap price. If we take into account the costs for a Designer to create a book cover, this includes: stock images licenses, fonts, professional software (Photoshop is not a cheap investment), etc.

Legit reasons why someone would sell you a book cover design for cheaper would involve: portfolio building, practicing skills, being at a beginner level, building a name, etc. However, even if all those reasons are valid, such prices won't stay for long because it's unsustainable.

Book Shelves
Does your book stand out?

Conclusion: Your budget

With a budget of $100-700 you can easily get a professionally ebook cover designed by a talented designer. If you're self-publishing electronically, you can save by purchasing the ebook version only but making the Designer aware that you might purchase from them a print version in the future.

These prices vary usually due to the experience in the industry, design itself or because some of the designers are at a point in their career where they are trying to build a name for themselves. The reason why I provide such reasonable prices for my ebook covers, at the moment, is because even though I have a BA degree in Design and years of experience in photo manipulation, web and branding, I'd like to add more examples of book covers to my portfolio and start building a name for myself in the industry. So, without wanting to sound biased, grab these prices while they're low, okay?

 

Are you thinking of getting your book cover professionally designed? Have you ever had a bad experience? Let me know in the comments.

 

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13 Comments

  1. cieri of www.thewonderfulkind.com on January 22, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Got curious with this post. I never really knew how much a book cover cost. The prices mentioned are fair enough given the talent and service to be rendered. Learned something new today 🙂

  2. Johna on January 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Interesting! I actually never knew this before hehe. How many book designs have you done? Would love to see some samples 😀 sounds like a fun job hehe.

  3. wishingbelle on January 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    This is something new to me. I never thought about the costs of book cover. I’ve learned from your post. I will bookmark your site for future reference. 🙂

  4. PiaDy on January 23, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Okay, my ultimate goal in life is to write my own book of essays, so I had to check this page out. Very informative – thank you! My take away from this article is, photo or typography manipulation is the happy middle if you don’t have the budget for original artwork and if you still want something more unique than premade book covers. You’re right though -covers do make you look at a story twice, so it’s definitely important to put some thought when choosing one. Keeping my fingers crossed I get to hire your services one day! 🙂

  5. mariaisquixotic on January 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Now, I’m more enlightened on what and how to charge a client if someone asks me to design for them. It has been tricky to decide what amount should people ask whenever there are possible commissioned works. I’ll also send this to my friends who are looking into getting their work out there and possibly receiving opportunities to create as well. I wonder how you feel if someone hires you to design their book. 🙂

    • Nya on January 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      That’s great! I’m sure you’d do really well at book covers since your calligraphic typography skills are amazing. Maybe even some day we can do some sort of partnership 😉

  6. ROBERT LEE | Amazing Life Daily on January 24, 2017 at 3:30 am

    Hi, like a few other bloggers, there is the dream of writing and publishing a book. And after reading your post, I understand the value of having a good book cover design. BUT, my biggest takeaway is that the design has to be free of any legal issues. Publishing a book with a book cover that infringes on copyright could come back to haunt an author, so that already is reason to use the services of professionals with good reputation, as opposed to going cheap. In a sense, going cheap is akin to taking one’s own work cheap.

  7. Stargazer Writes on January 24, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    This is a good read especially to those aspirants that dream of having their own works published. I think it’s also a plus if the writer is also an artist. That way, they will be able to save a lot from just designing a book cover. But yeah, there is no fixed rate when it comes to these stuff since preference and readers are two of the many varying factors in this industry.

  8. Gryselle Mae on January 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I have had my work book bind back when I was in college. We had to book bind our report and design a book cover. It wasn’t really such an easy task and having it design is definitely a lot more hassle-free than having to doing it by your own. There are a lot of stores that offer book cover designing for a cheap price but their works are usually quite disappointing. This article would definitely be a great help for the college students here in my place and for all the inspiring writers as well who wish to have their works published. 🙂

  9. Kareen Liez Datoy on March 13, 2017 at 5:49 am

    This is a helpful post especially for those who are planning to print their own books. And yes, the cover is one thing that readers will check before buying a book.

  10. Irma on March 13, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    This was very interesting to read. I myself plan to publish a book (but not right now), and I am a bit interested in everything I need to do and cover prior to publishing. This post was a true revelation, and now I not only know what to search for, but I also know how much money will I need for my project. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

  11. Princess Mikee on March 14, 2017 at 9:08 am

    The book cover indeed makes a difference, when you want to stand out first. There’s a lot of hardwork in self-publishing a book. Good read.

  12. […] create something truly unique for them. And there IS a difference between an artist and a designer. The best covers will come from synergy between a good artist and a good designer. Hiring an artist will give your designer something to work with, whether you’re designing your […]

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