Pulling down strongholds

What you should know about finding a book cover artist.

You’ve done the hard part. You’ve written a book. Now, you’re ready to move forward and publish. You don’t want to deal with pitching to agents and waiting months to hear back. And the thought of waiting even more time—possibly even years—for your book to hit shelves is overwhelming. So you’ve decided to skip the big publishing companies and do it on your own. The only problem is you’ve never done this before. And you don’t know how to find a book cover artist.

If this is where you are, keep reading to find out how to find a book cover designer to fit your needs and make your cover jump off the shelf.

How much does a book cover artist cost?

The cost of your cover depends on what you’re looking for and who you know. Since you’re reading this, we’ll assume you don’t have cover artist friends. As with anything else in life, you can pay as much or as little as you want for your cover.

If you’re hiring someone to make a book cover, expect to pay between $250 and $1,500. Is there a wide quality gap with these prices? Perhaps. But sometimes, the only difference is the experience of the cover designer. (Newer designers cost less in most cases.)

Want something a little cheaper? A number of companies now offer premade stock cover designs. These may not feel as original as other covers, but they tend to include genre-appropriate cover art and font usage. 

What makes a good book cover artist?

A good cover is unique. But it also has certain elements of every other good cover. The best cover artists know the rules of book covers and follow them closely. Before choosing a cover artist, check your artist’s portfolio. Every cover artist follows the following rules:

1. Good book covers are not cluttered. The best book covers are easy to understand at a glimpse. Bad book covers are confusing. They have more than a couple fonts, include lots of picture elements, and generally look messy.

2. Good book covers fit the genre. Want the right readers to grab your book? The cover needs to meet their expectations. While you may have a love story inside your sci-fi novel, the cover should not feature a man and woman embracing. Science fiction books demand appropriate cover art. Space ships, aliens, etc. The same goes for every other genre. Know your audience and give them what they expect. It’s a way you show respect to them. It’s also how they know your book is meant for them.

3. Good book covers are emotionally appropriate. Dark books that deal with dark themes tend to have dark covers. Fun books have fun imagery and light colors. Not sure how color and emotion relate? Read this.

How can I make a book cover for free?

Unlike rocket science, book cover design is not—well, rocket science. You can design your own book cover for free, in the comfort of your own home. All you need is the appropriate software (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), some solid fonts (it’s best not to use whatever comes standard on your computer), and an eye for design. 

Before you go this route, hunt around on Amazon a bit first. Find some self-published books. Then find some professional book covers by one of the major publishers. You’ll quickly see that graphic design doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And that’s fine. Remember—you’re an author. You specialize in what goes between the covers, not what’s on them.

You may like the idea of doing your own cover design, but be honest with yourself. Are you the right person to design your cover? Your book cover has the tremendous job of selling your book to readers. If you aren’t a book cover designer, don’t force it. Doing it yourself may be free upfront, but it could cost you sales down the road.

Do authors have a say in their book covers?

Many authors fear that using the services of a cover artist means losing creative control. However, authors always have a say in their book covers. What publishing route they go determines just how much say they have. 

With traditional publishing, the publishing house wants the author’s opinions. But in many cases, the author doesn’t have the final say. J.K. Rowling and John Piper are likely exceptions. They probably get whatever they want on their book covers. But they also know that their cover designers know what they’re doing. So what do they probably want on their book cover? Whatever the cover designer suggests.

Other publishing options typically give authors more say in the final cover. Before committing to a contract, however, it’s wise to ask about this. Knowing what book design service is offered and how much input you have will ensure your book (and ebook) turn out just right. 

How does Argyle Fox handle book cover design?

At Argyle Fox Publishing, you (the author) have the first and last word on your cover art and book cover design. Once we begin working together, we find out your vision for your cover. We then take this knowledge and work together to create a fitting cover. 

Already have cover art for your book? No problem. We’ve used client-provided art to build covers. Sarah Ann May and other authors have even had friends create custom cover art and fonts. As long as the cover design elements are professionally done and tasteful, we give authors the freedom to use these elements. After all, it’s your book, and we want you 100% satisfied with the end product.

Have other questions about our services that help indie authors? Take a look around to learn more about how we do what we do and why.