How to Create a Professional Cover for Your Self-Published Book

Your book cover is an essential marketing piece. Most readers decide to buy a book based on the cover and the table of contents.

You can hire a designer to create a custom cover for your book, or work with a design house that offers “pre-made” covers.

Custom Covers

For a custom cover, expect to invest $500 to $800 (for print and eBook versions) to up to $4,000 (if working with an artist who has designed “bestselling” covers). Some designers also offer cover improvement services (if you already have a cover that needs professional tweaking) and cover title design services (you provide the cover art and the designer creates the title design).

Before hiring a designer to create a custom cover, review their portfolio and make sure you understand everything that is included with their fee:

  • Will they work with your interior designer?
  • Do they provide several mock-ups to select from?
  • How many revisions are included?
  • What is the turnaround time?
  • Can they provide additional file sizes and formats you may need (to use for posters, bookmarks, trailers, social media posts, an audiobook version or website banner)?

Pre-Made Covers

Purchasing a pre-made cover allows you to select from a portfolio of templates. The design company inserts your title and name into the artwork, provides you the file, and the pre-made cover is then removed from the market so no one else can purchase the same design.

Quality pre-made covers cost about $100 for an eBook, and $200 for both the eBook and print book.

When selecting pre-made covers, consider the tone, relevance, reader/genre expectation, and legibility of the design.

  • Book covers for specific genres have certain similar qualities. Study other books in your category to get a feel for their design traits.
  • Readers are attracted to a book cover by the feeling they get from the visual elements (including the color, fonts, and images) and the title. What emotional response do you want the visual elements of the book cover to evoke? Will the cover you are considering make the viewer feel comforted, peaceful, successful, motivated, inspired, secure, adventurous, interested, curious, concerned, empowered, intrigued?
  • One strong image will often have more impact than multiple images. Does the pre-made cover you’re considering have one strong image that instantly conveys your book’s concept?
  • The front cover should stand out and be easy to read. Consider what the cover will look like as a thumbnail on your website or Amazon.