So how much does a book cover actually costs? What options do authors have? How much prices vary? This article will hopefully let you make an educated decision and get the best cover possible!
Anywhere from $30 to $4000 per cover.
Yes. Up to $4000. Highest price I’ve seen a Cover Designer charge online is $3750 at www.fostercovers.com/fee. Obviously, this is one of the big name designers and he has a lot of awards, doing covers for 20+ years. Some other well known Cover Designers are Chip Kidd (works with Haruki Murakami’s books etc www.chipkidd.com) or Isaac Tobin (stunning covers – www.isaactobin.com). I don’t know their pricing, but they won’t be lower than a $1000. If not about $2000.
So why such price difference? Mostly, because there are designers with different skill levels for different types of customers ( publishing houses or indie authors or speakers/business owners etc).
So how much Indie Authors can expect to pay?
Indie Authors get away with paying less and it’s good. Not many would be able to afford to pay $2000 a cover. For $125-800 you can hire a very talented designer for a custom made cover. Anything lower and you’re either getting an amateur designer (author turned designer who sells covers to other authors, or designer who just started in general) or you will get someone who is designing for a while but his art never improves and stays at the same average level. It is very rare that a very good designer will charge $100 for cover. If you found one, get him now because it’s a huge bargain and price won’t likely stay long. Mostly likely reason for a low price is building up a name for yourself, even though your skill level is above average.
Why? Calculate hourly rate. For $100 and 8 hours of work that is about $12 and hour. And that’s really squeezing. It doesn’t involve costs for stock photos, fonts, software etc. No self respecting and ambitious (read designer who wants to get better!) will work like very low price for long time. It’s unsustainable.
If you pay more than $200 a cover, you will, most likely, be getting art direction, enough suggestions ( at least 2-3 cover design concepts), at least one stock photo without having to pay additionally for it, many revisions (although they should be limited to some number to not get design process out of control) and more..
In general, you get what you pay for!
What can you get for $30-80?
At the cheapest price range for Custom made Covers you will either get a fresh designer who is still learning his craft and hasn’t put in enough time in it, or someone who is designing part-time for few years and whose skills aren’t improving really and they stay at the same level. I’ve seen designers saying they are in business for 8 years yet their skill set is same as someone’s who is designing for 6 months – unpolished designs – bad cropping, bad lighting, weak typography, odd colors etc.
These are a good option for the very start. If you’re on a limited budget, you can find some good premade covers for 25-80 dollars. A lot of Cover designers do both, Premade and Custom Cover designs. Premade covers are designs made specifically for one-time sale. Designers like doing them because it’s bit easier – you don’t have to adjust design to anyone else’s want other than your own idea. When working on a Custom Book Cover there are 2 people collaborating on the process and sharing ideas so it takes longer and sometimes ends up way different then original suggestions. Usually the only things allowed to be changed on a Premade cover will be Title/author name, maybe font and colors, very broad strokes so to say.
It may limit author’s choice a bit but there are a lot of Premades to choose from. There are risks that designers will end up using same stock photo multiple times (sometimes few designers will love the same picture and decide to use it without each other knowing it). But it doesn’t happen all the time. Good Designers will be willing to change up design if they see another one very similar to it on sale if Author asks.