Public Relations Blog

Designing a Book Cover: DIY vs Hiring for Self-publishing Authors

Designing a book cover

If you’re familiar with the concept of self-publishing, you’re also probably familiar with some of its criticisms. It’s not uncommon for someone to scoff at a self-published book on sight and label it as unprofessional, or a work in progress- even if that isn’t true at all. If you’re planning to self-publish a book, those kinds of reactions might make you nervous. You most likely don’t want to invoke that kind of disdain from potential readers. So, how do you keep an audience open-minded when they can be predisposed to making assumptions about self-published books? Design a professional book cover.

Designing a Book Cover

The key is to make your self-published book look professional at first glance. The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is great advice when it comes to the metaphor for how we should treat other people, but when it comes to actual books, people do judge them by their covers. That is why it’s so important to get your cover right. In a world where tens of thousands of new books are self-published annually, there’s no faster way for people to make the snap decision to swipe left or right. Your book cover’s quality needs to reflect the quality of its contents, so you can attract the audience who will enjoy all of your hard work.

When you begin thinking about your cover, there are essentially two options: you can give yourself a DIY project or you can hire a designer to make the cover for you.

You may know yourself well enough to already have an idea of which one will suit you better, but there are pros and cons to both when you’re considering your options for designing a book cover. This is just a quick and dirty guide to helping you make the initial choice.

The DIY Option

This option is more complex. You will need to find a graphics program that suits you- there are plenty out there that are low-cost or free. Some web-based services even provide premade templates to follow that can make the process simpler. Making your own cover will involve a lot more of your time. You will need to handle all of the steps from doing the initial design thumbnails to formatting the image properly for print. On top of that, these things will require research, especially if you’re a total newcomer to digital design. However, there is a positive side- the result will be a lot more cost-effective and it is completely customizable. If you have a strong vision for what you want your cover to be and are willing to do the legwork, this could be a very rewarding option.

Hiring a Designer

The initial step for this option might take a little time, but once you’ve found a designer that fits your budget and style, the rest of the work will fall on them and you can focus on other things. All you need to do is message them, discussing the project and their rates, until you find someone who meets your needs for designing a book cover. Expect to pay a minimum of $750 for an original design that doesn’t follow a template or use stock photos. Despite the downside of being more expensive, this option can save time and stress, leaving you with a more professional, eye-catching book. 

If one of these options interests, you- great! We’ll be going more in-depth into both of them in future blog posts, so keep an eye on this space! Until then, please check out our Not-so-Sexy Side of Book Publishing blog to learn about the technical parts of publishing that will help prevent you from missing out on opportunities. 

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