3 things I’ve learned when hiring a book cover designer

I did something I wouldn’t have dared a couple of years ago: I asked professionals for quotes to design a book cover for my writing project.

Previously, I had done my designs in a very DIY way. But to continue on my self-publishing journey, I had to go one step further than just do all the things by myself. This step is to choose the book cover designer that would work on my project with me.

Here are the 3 things I’ve learned when hiring a book cover designer.

Lesson #1: Set up a budget

I had just hit the button which sent the brief to the designers I had selected that my Dear Husband challenged me on the budget I was willing to spend on the cover. I’m a bit stingy, this is a fact I’m well aware of. Unofficially, I had set up a budget of €500 (£440). I had just told myself I would wait for the designers’ quotes and would see what happens.

To my surprise, the first quote I received was of $1,200. I almost fell from my chair and my heart sank. The price was so high that I was about to cry when I saw it. In my head, I kept saying “Oh my god, I’ll never professionally self-publish this book if everything’s so expensive!”

My friend, let me tell you that you’ll see prices from simple to double when asking for quotes. So be mentally prepared!

However, make also sure you’re speaking the same currency. The first quote was in Australian Dollars (so less bad than American Dollars, haha). Translated into Euros, it was down to €750 (£655), which was better to digest for a stingy person such as myself but still higher than my initial budget. This was the highest quote I received. The lowest was around €300 (£260).

Why not going for the lowest price then? Well, keep on reading.


Lesson #2: Not everyone offers the same package

If one designer was only offering the front cover of the book – because I had only asked for an ebook cover -, other would add stuff like social media visuals or illustrations or work with pictures I’d send them. What puzzled me was the huge gap between the prices and the services they were offering. Somehow, the ones that were offering the most were also the ones with the cheapest prices. It was really tempting to just choose the cheapest because I didn’t know if that was worth it to spend that much money.

Anyway, I think the big learning here is to ask for samples of what the designers did in the past. It helped me get a sense of their arts, but also connect with what the cover could be.

Lesson #3: You might not be ready yet

After receiving the quotes and asking the designers a few questions, I realised that I might be just too early in the process. On my own, I had decided that the title of my book would be “The Londoners: Memoirs of a 4-year expatriation in the United Kingdom”. However, with Brexit just around the corner and all the fun that goes with it, it might just end up not selling at all because of the title and the design I had in mind. Of course, my insights and experience as an expat would still be valid no matter the country you’d want to live in. But there’s no denying that the U.K. does not look super dreamy at the moment. I would just shoot myself in the foot.

So you might want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Have you thought thoroughly about the title of your book?
  • Have you made some research whether this title was already used?
  • Special for nonfiction writers: have you made some keyword research whether you were answering people’s questions?

If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, congratulations! I think you’re ready to hire a designer to create the beautiful cover which will represent your book. If you’ve answered no to one of these questions, you might want to wait a little longer to assess all the potential of a book title.

In the end, I didn’t hire any of the book cover designers I had asked quotes to. One part of me wasn’t ready to spend all that money yet, and the other part wasn’t sure it was a good idea just yet. However, going through the process did teach me a couple of things that I’m glad I know now.

I’ll be ready next time 🙂

Have you ever hired a book cover designer?
Don’t hesitate to tweet me @vdvestelle