by Melinda VanLone
We've spent quite a bit of time on various blogs here at WITS talking about what makes a good cover for your genre, and about why you should invest in one. Now that you're convinced you need one, what's the next step?
If you're reading this, I assume it's because you're not a graphic designer and you are in the position of having to hire one to do a cover for you. You are probably wondering how much a book cover costs. If that's you, then keep in mind the old saying you get what you pay for.
That doesn't mean you can't get a fantastic, effective cover for an affordable price. It just means that more of the work might fall on your shoulders. Below are examples of how you can make book covers more affordable.
Price range: approximately $29-$149
Advantages: Low cost, Low customization, Low Service.
In general, pre-made covers are a "what you see is what you get" proposition, with the only customization being the title and author name. Don't count on even being able to change the font, much less any of the artwork. These covers are low cost because the designer doesn't have to spend an hour tweaking it to fit your specifications. That said, it's possible to get a fantastic cover this way.
There are plenty of great designers making pre-made covers. The trick is to keep in mind what works for your genre and choose accordingly. The burden is on you, not the designer, to find the artwork that conveys your story in the right way.
Be sure to check that the cover you've selected is "exclusive," meaning it won't ever be sold to anyone else, and check to see if the price you pay includes a print cover as well as ebook. If it doesn't, be sure to ask how much extra the print version will cost you unless you have no intention of ever offering a printed version of your book.
One place to find pre-made covers is TheBookCoverDesigner.com, but there are many others out there. Some designers offer this in addition to other services.
This pre-made cover features both a background and a model that are readily available at several stock photography sites, along with a little photoshop grunge, none of which can be altered. The only thing that will change once your purchase is the title and the author name.
Price range: approximately $150-$600+
Advantages: Medium cost, Medium customization, Medium Service.
The majority of book cover designers fall into this category. These designers use photography from various stock sites (see my previous blog post for a list of good ones), and their Photoshop skills to create your cover. As you can imagine, the skill set varies wildly from designer to designer, which is why the price range is so large.
This type of design includes the following:
Note: Be sure to get the price for the print wrap included in your quote.
At the lower price points in this range, the designer might be fresh out of school and trying to build a portfolio, or someone just entering the field who is trying to get a stable of work built up quickly.
At the higher end, they might have expertise in Photoshop and design, plus years of experience backing it up. They might have marketing skills to offer as well, and will help steer you toward the right kind of cover for your genre.
A semi-custom cover gives you the opportunity to have a fairly custom look for a lower price than one might expect. However, the designer will most likely use a stock model or background that has been used on hundreds of other covers. While there's a lot of stock images out there, the number of suitable models for book covers is surprisingly limited per genre once you start looking for the urban fantasy girl or the beefcake guy. The designers on the higher side of this category are skilled at taking a stock image and twisting it in such a way as to disguise the fact that your girl has been on a hundred other covers in the last month.
One of the best ways to find a designer in this category is word of mouth. Look for covers that you like and check the copyright page to see if they've credited the designer, or contact the author if they haven't.
Other options to find designers:
This Stronger Than Magic cover features both a model and a background readily available on stock sites, along with a custom logo in the background and Photoshop special effects on the logo, the girl and the water. This cover was fully designed and customized, but did not include a photoshoot.
Price range: $599+
Advantages: High cost, High customization, High Service
A fully custom cover involves a photographer, a model (or two or three), and/or hand-drawn artwork, digital or otherwise, that can't be duplicated by anyone else.
These designs might use some stock photography for parts of the background, but the model will be one hired specifically for your cover. The shots obtained won't be used on any other cover, meaning the face that represents your story or series will be unique. Often they use their own personal photography for the background as well, or if they don't, they blend stock images in such a way that no one will ever know it was stock.
This cover for Raegan Reid - Rifter features a model located through my author newsletter, and included a trip to Atlanta in order to do a photoshoot with her, along with Photoshop work for special effects and background blending.
These one-of-a-kind covers are usually priced accordingly. That said, often a designer will negotiate costs if you are working on a series, and therefore will need more than one cover with the same general theme. One photoshoot of a model can go a long way, so the price per cover often comes down. BookCoverCorner.com (full disclosure - it's yours truly) is one place that offers a fully custom cover.
You can find quality covers at every price point with enough research. The real question is how much control do you want to have, and how unique would you like your cover to be?
How did you get your existing book covers? What did you like and dislike about the process? Do you have questions for Melinda, or tips to share? Post them down in the comments!
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Melinda VanLone writes urban fantasy, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and furbabies.
When she's not playing with her imaginary friends, you can find Melinda playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or hovered over coffee in Starbucks.
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