5 Tips for Cover Design on a Budget

illustration-of-books-pvFor self-publishing authors, having both professional editing and a professional cover design are crucial for producing a quality book. But many indie authors are working on a tight budget, and it can be hard to find affordable services. So, how do you get a quality cover design on a budget? Here are some possibilities:

  1. Work with a student designer

There are many students (or new designers in general) who might not have as much experience but are eager to get their work out there. While it’s important to make sure that any designer you choose has the skills you’re looking for, finding a new designer can be a win-win situation for both of you, as you might get a professional cover for a lower rate, while the designer will gain experience and a chance to have their work seen more widely. The biggest challenge here is in finding new/student designers, but graphic design schools are a great place to start.

  1. Find artists online

Similarly, you might be able to find artists who make artwork you love but who don’t have professional design experience—which means their rates are lower. Check out artwork on sites like DeviantArt to see if you can find an art style you love. Even Instagram can be a great place to look for designers. (Just be sure that the artist has the skills to create a book cover before you hire them.)

  1. Premade Covers

Many big-name designers actually offer premade covers. These are usually cover options for another client that ultimately weren’t used, so the designer offers them to other authors for a discounted price. The drawback here is that it might take awhile to find a cover you love that works for your book. But it’s certainly worth looking into—and if you regularly check designer’s sites, eventually something might come up that works for you.

  1. Swap services

You might be able to get a cover completely for free if you have a skill you’re able to barter. If you can find someone with cover design skills, see if you can offer them something in exchange. Maybe they’re an author too, and you can offer a critique or proofread. Maybe you’re a WordPress expert and can help set up their website. Maybe they need assistance setting up social media accounts to promote their work, and you have the skills to do that. Offer your time and your skills to trade in exchange for a cover design. Not all designers will be willing to do this, but some might.

  1. Think ahead about series design

If you know that you’re writing a long series, consider how you might be able to modify the cover of the first book in order to make new covers for the rest of the series. For example, if you can use the same background each time, or simply adjust the colors, or change only an element or two, then you’ll have covers for the rest of the series without having to pay for a new cover each time. You do want to be careful here—if readers can’t tell the covers of your books apart, they might get them confused or not be able to remember which books in the series they’ve read. But if you can do this well, it can save a lot of money in the long run, especially if you’re writing a really lengthy series. Buying and modifying only one cover is much cheaper than buying multiple covers.

What do you think? Do you have any tips for cover design on a budget? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.

This post is part of my Self-Publishing Series. For more information about self-publishing, check out the other posts in the series hereand follow the blog to see future posts!

Related Links:

7 (More) Tips for Ebook Marketing

Self-Publishing Do’s and Don’ts

The Pros and Cons of Offering Preorders

5 Tips for Finding a Cover Artist


2 thoughts on “5 Tips for Cover Design on a Budget

  1. Catana says:

    The best tip is to learn how to do it yourself. And I do mean learn. There’s a ton of information out there on book cover design, and on using image-editing programs. Way more satisfying than having someone else do it for you, even for free.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rhonda Wiley-Jones says:

    I agree we can all the “learn” the skills of basic design, if willing.

    For my author logo, I utilized my local university’s graphic design class to get about a dozen from which I chose one. I used the logo as chapter graphics in my author-published (self-published) memoir.

    The one thing not mentioned above is that photos or pictures of a person on the cover design typically sell more books, I have heard. Do not know the research on this myself, but it seems intuitively correct to me. I used a photo of myself on the cover of my memoir that my cousin took of me in front of the Trevi Fountain when I was fiftee. It felt so right for my book, At Home in the World: Travel Stories of Growing Up and Growing Away.


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