We’ve Got You Covered: A Guide to Book Covers for Indie Authors

coveredNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

So you’ve writing your book (or maybe you’ve already finished writing it). You’ve set a launch date and are working your way through revisions. Now comes the fun part – at least in my opinion – THE COVER!

Why You Should Care About Your Cover

I have news for you: people actually DO judge a book by its cover – especially when deciding whether they want to buy it. As an indie writer, you get to be the one who calls the shots at every step of your book’s development. This includes cover design. And I will warn you: the cover is not something to take lightly. Your cover is the aesthetic realization of your creative labor – you want it to be stunning and accurately reflect the content of your book.

What a Great Book Cover Can Do For You

An exceptional cover works to do multiple things for you. It attracts new readers, boosts sales, and breaks the indie stereotype of unprofessionalism. Ultimately, a good cover means your book can (visually) compete with the thousands of other books out there. If other self-published authors and traditional publishing houses are using breathtaking covers, you better be too.

Why You Should Probably Hire A Designer

I don’t care how much you like the cover you created yourself. Or how talented of a photographer you are. Unless you have a lot of experience in graphic design, I would strongly recommend you hire a designer to do your book cover. Don’t jeopardize your success with a sub-par cover.

Components of a Great Cover

Your book cover should be many things. But, in particular, it should be:

  • Eye-catching. This will help you stand out from the crowd and attract new readers.
  • Professional. As mentioned above, you need to have a professional cover. Make sure you’re presenting your work and yourself as professionally as possible.
  • Accurate. There should be no typos in your book title. And further more, it should accurately reflect the content of your book. Look at other books in your genre. If you’re writing a romance, make sure the cover LOOKS and FEELS like a romance cover. The same goes for if you’re writing fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, etc. You want your reader to know what kind of book they’re getting into just by looking at the cover (this way you head off bad reviews from people who were expecting a fantasy epic but instead got historical fiction).
  • Formatted Correctly. Make sure that the digital file of your cover meets the correct requirements/specifications for each platform you upload it to. The same goes for submitting your cover for Print On Demand services.

Where to Find Designers

So where do you go to find a great cover design? I have a few recommendations (based on personal experience and word-of-mouth suggestions):

  • Fiverr. I personally get most of my designs from Fiverr. There are tons of highly rated and talented artists there that will make you a custom cover starting from $5. The rates vary, depending on the kind of cover you want, but it is usually one of the most affordable options.
  • 99 Designs. I hear a lot of indie authors using this site where graphic designers compete to design this cover, meaning you end up with a good amount of options to pick from. This is a more pricey option. They have various packages that give you more services, but your looking at spending a few hundred dollars here.
  • Freelancing Sites. You can often find freelance graphic designers on sites like Elance, oDesk, etc. I only warn that you do not pay upfront – make sure to receive your cover (or at least a sample of it) first before paying. You want to make sure you like your cover and that it’s good quality. Pricing here varies.
  • Social Media. If you can’t seem to find a great designer, head to Twitter or other social media platforms to start your search. Send out a post saying you’re looking for a designer. Or do some digging around with keyword searches. Who knows what you might find. Again, pricing varies.


So there you have it. Making sure you have a great cover is one of the most crucial steps in self-publishing. Do you have any tips for covers? Any designers you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below!


7 thoughts on “We’ve Got You Covered: A Guide to Book Covers for Indie Authors

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