Where to Find a Book Cover: A Guide for Indie Authors
A lot of self-published authors realize that they need a book cover, but they have no idea where to start. So I decided to put together some information to help you find a book cover! Here are a few common places indie authors get book covers (and my thoughts on each).
1) Make the Book Cover Yourself
If you’re on a tight budget or don’t want anyone else to be involved with the cover creation, making the book cover yourself is the obvious solution. I could write a whole other blog post on advice for cover DIYers, but I’ll keep it brief. I’d suggest that if you don’t have book cover design experience, you keep it simple. Pershaps one stock image and the highest quality typography you can manage. Be sure to study your genre so you make a cover that fits.
Benefits to making the cover yourself include the price and the total control. Downsides are that it can be time intensive and you may not get the quality you would from purchasing a cover. I think it can also be harder to manage for genres like fantasy, where covers typically involve blending a lot of photos and/or illustration.
2) Purchase a Premade Book Cover
What is a premade book cover? It’s essentially a design created to work as a book cover, but not intended for any book in particular. Industry standard is that the cover is exclusive, AKA only sold once, and that a free title/author name change is included in the cost. Many designers do use a placeholder other than “book title,” but it’s still something intended to be changed. As a designer, it’s helpful for me to keep track of everything if I’m giving them a name other than “book title”! And it’s a good chance to practice typography.
The benefit to a premade book cover is that it takes uncertainty out of the equation; you can look at the existing art and know exactly what you’ll be getting. Premade book covers are also one of the best ways to get quality covers on a budget, and they have a fast turn around. You can get a premade cover have it ready to publish ASAP. The main downside is that since they tend to be very generic and won’t be specific to your book. Also, most of the figures on the covers tend to be skinny white people, and couples are mostly f/m. If you’re writing something outside that, it can be hard to find more diverse premade book covers. Although artists making them do exist!
Where to Find a Premade Book Cover
If you are interested in getting a premade book cover, there’s several places you can look.
Individual designer websites. If you want an example of what these look like, you can take a look around the rest of my site. You can find these through internet searches, recommendations from other authors, or browsing Facebook cover groups. If you find a designer whose work you love, you can also see if they take premade requests (otherwise called “custom premades”).
Facebook. So many designers making covers for the indie market are on Facebook, and there’s several large groups geared towards helping authors find covers. Some good Facebook groups include:
- Book Cover Gallery, which has a quality screen on all submitted covers.
- Book Cover Design Marketplace, the largest book cover group.
- PoC Cover Market, for covers with models of color.
All these groups tend to become dominated by fantasy, but there are other groups specific to other genres. Designers will post premades to these groups, but they often have other work as well so you can follow their links to check their websites, pages, or Facebook groups. Finally, if all else fails you can make a request post and designers will respond with what they have available. Just be sure to check the group guidelines for such posts before creating them.
Big premade websites that host multiple designers. My main example here would be The Book Cover Designer. I suggest that if you like a cover, run an internet search on the artist and see if they have their own storefront. It may be cheaper to buy directly from the artist.
3) Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Book Cover
A custom book cover is a book cover created specifically for your book, based on the brief you give the designer. Prices on custom book covers vary tremendously and depend on things like genre, complexity, art style, and quality. For example, contemporary romance book covers tend to be cheaper than intricate fantasy covers.
Upsides to hiring a professional designer for a custom cover are that you can get a quality result, unique to your story, that will help market your book (covers are your number one marketing tool!). Downsides are that they are more expensive than premades or DIYing. It might also take longer, since top designers may be fully booked and you’ll have to find someone with an opening in your time frame.
If you’re looking for a designer for a custom book cover, you can use all the same methods I listed above. Most designers selling premades also create custom covers, so you can inquire with anyone you find.
And of course, you can find a self published book in your genre with a cover you love and look to see if the designer is credited inside! That’s a great way to find designers in your genre.
4) Freelancer Websites (Fiverr, Reedsy, 99designs)
These are popular choices… but they’re not something I would recommend, both for the ethics of how these sites treat their designers and for the end result.
Fiverr is the site I see discussed the most by authors. But for everyone recommending it, there’s someone else with a Fiverr horror story. When I looked at the book cover designers on Fiverr, the vast majority of designers in my genre (fantasy) were either posting sub-par work or stolen work to their portfolios. And yes, I found stolen covers in the portfolios of even some of the top rated designers doing fantasy. And I’ve seen some horrifically off-genre results even for genres like contemporary romance.
Many Fiverr designers also have either a poor understanding of stock image licensing or unethical behavior around sourcing their images. If you decide to go with a Fiverr designer, you need to be careful about where the designer is sourcing their material. I suggest that you require seeing the license receipt for any stock image the designer uses. Generally speaking, I would strongly recommend against Fiverr.
I know professional designers who are on Reedsy.However, I’ve heard from many of them that Reedsy prioritizes traditional publishing and won’t list designers who work primarily with self published authors. As a result, many designers who work in the indie market aren’t on Reedsy.
99designs works by holding “contests” where multiple designers can compete by making covers that match your brief. There’s some ethical problems here (you’re essentially asking designers to do work they won’t be paid for), and many of the designers who are successful on the platform do so by making covers that are generic enough that if they don’t win, they can be re-entered into other contests or sold as premades. So you still may not be getting a very unique cover. Additionally, for the cost of one of these contests, you could often easily hire a professional designer in your genre. A $1000 or more in prize money is often more than enough to hire a top designer who’s worked with multiple bestselling books. So in a lot of cases, you would be far better off either looking for a premade or custom cover.
Hopefully all this information helps you find a book cover solution that’s right for you!