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  • Writer's pictureLiv Savstrom

Self-Publishing Update: Getting a Book Cover

Deciding to self-publish my novel has come with a steep learning curve and a lot of decisions. To make the process as transparent as possible, share process, successes, and failures, I have decided to do a series of updates to take you along on my journey.

Hopefully this will help others considering self-publishing.

So how do you get an awesome book cover inside your budget?

All gurus, resources and common sense says that everyone does judge a book by its cover. Due to this, I have been spending a lot of time on this step. There were two parts:

1. Research similar covers

2. Determine budget and choose how to make the best cover for my book

1. Research similar covers

A cover should communicate what kind of book the reader will get, work great in thumbnail size and look professional.

The first step is to understand your genre, then look in bookstores for similar books. I decided to buy ($87 for lifetime access) to help understand Amazon categories, keywords and market. I used this to find some of the top selling books in my genre, but you can also search completely free.

Even if you hire a professional to make your cover, it is important to understand the market!

What did I do?

1. Set your Chrome Browser to Incognito Mode

2. Go to or (often big publishers have different covers for different markets to identify who you are targeting)

3. Select “Kindle Books”, then “Bestsellers and More”

4. Understand overall bestsellers, bestsellers in your genre, and both “Most Read” (includes Kindle Unlimited and free books) and “Most Sold”—where do you expect your book to fit in?

2. Determine budget and choose how to make the best cover for my book

I looked at three different kinds of cover services: DIY, marketplaces where freelancers offer their services, well-reputed companies. This is not a complete overview of all the ways there are to get a book cover but a quick overview of the options I considered and the associated costs.

DIY ($0-$100)

Are you crafty and willing to learn the ins and outs of book covers? If yes, go with the cheapest option.

$0—when uploading your manuscript on you can use their stock photos to create a cover

5 downloads for $49 —buy a picture or several that fit your novel and make your cover in a graphic editing program or even Word MS

~$100 —select a professional, pre-made cover. All you have to do yourself are the fonts

Freelancer ($30-$110)

I searched on for cover designers in my genre (fantasy), identified three freelancers based on number of reviews (above 100), star rating (at least 4.7), and comparing their portfolio to what I was looking for. They ranged from the cheapest one at $30 for eBook only cover (back or spine), to $110 for eBook and hardcover, incl. marketing materials—very good value for money!

Other platforms to try if you want to go this route

Book cover company ($497-$1,700)

I researched two well reputed companies with award winning covers. This is the gold standard. Both companies are dedicated to provide authors with services to bring their books to market

$497-$595 —they have a great portfolio on the website and several independent blogs and review sites recommended them. Prices are transparently presented on the website. Even if you do not go this route, I suggest clicking the “Order eBook Cover” and using the entry form questions to determine what you want on your cover.

$1,500-$1,700 —reputed book cover designers with very pretty covers (can be used as inspiration also if you go another route). I could not find their prices on their website and contacted them for a quote. This is by far the most expensive book cover design I have seen and, while the cover is important, for me, they priced themselves out.

Are you writing a series? Often you can contact the designer and get a discount on future books where they can reuse a lot of the design.

Which way will you go? I have made up my mind and hope to reveal my new, gorgeous cover for The Last Spiritwalker in the beginning of October!

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