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You’ve written the book and had it edited and polished up. Now, comes the next step: making a book cover. If you’re not a professionally trained book cover designer, this can seem like an impossible task. How do you know just the right fonts to use? Where do you find the right images and graphics without infringing on copyright? How do you create a harmonious layout that will make your target audience want to pick up your book and read it?

Simple: you forgo DIY and hire a book cover designer.

But now the question: how do I hire a book cover designer? Stick around and we’ll tell you the ins-and-outs of how you can prepare for, research, decide on, and hire the right book cover designer for you.

1. Why are book covers important?

Book covers are an integral part of any book, regardless of how you plan to distribute (globally or to friends, family, etc.). Hiring a book cover designer will ensure that your book looks professional and is up to the same standards as your competitors. This in turn will help increase your sales and heighten the credibility and authority of your author brand.

Everyone says not to judge a book by its cover, but that is the first thing a potential reader will do to your book. Your book cover is the first tool in your marketing arsenal, so you need to ensure you get it right. A potential reader will see your spine or front cover first before they decide if they’re interested or just put it back on the shelf. So, your cover is the first deciding factor on whether your book is purchased or not.

You want your book to stand out on the shelf and interest readers, but you also need it to look like it belongs there. This means that you book needs to adhere to the following:

  • Display the genre clearly and effectively.
  • Give an indication of the plot without giving away too much.
  • Be appropriate for your target audience.
  • Keep with current styles and trends.

Your cover needs to work for you, not against you. Therefore, hiring a professional book designer will help ensure your cover is piquing readers’ interests while adhering to genre and market conventions.

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2. How much do book cover designers charge?

The cost of hiring a book cover designer can vary widely depending on several factors, such as:

  • The designer’s experience level
  • Design complexity
  • Project length

Freelance book cover designers typically charge either by the hour or by the project. Hourly rates can range from $25 to $150 or more per hour. Project rates can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Design agencies may charge higher rates than freelance designers, but they also offer a wider range of services and a team of designers. Prices for a book cover design vary but can reach up to $5,000 or more.

Getting a book cover designed through Green Hill is included in the publishing package for your entire publishing process. Have a look through our publishing package options to see if something fits your project and get in touch today to receive a tailored proposal.

It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of a book cover design should not be the only consideration when hiring a designer. It’s important to consider the designer’s level of experience, portfolio, and communication skills. A more expensive designer may produce a higher quality and more effective design. This in turn can help your book to stand out among the competition and generate more sales.

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3. Who owns the rights to the book cover: the author or the designer?

The copyright for a book cover is typically owned by the person or entity that created the cover design. This means if you hire a book cover designer, they will typically own the copyright to the cover design unless otherwise specified in a contract.

The rights for book covers designed by Green Hill are signed over to the author after the relevant project payments have been received. This means that you own the book design and can use it however you like. However, we do maintain the right to use the book covers to promote our business on our social media and other promotional graphics.

In many cases, book cover designers will grant the author limited usage rights. Often, this will allow the author to use the design for their book and related promotional materials (such as promotional graphics directly related to the book). However, the designer may retain the rights to the design. This means the author cannot alter the cover without the designer’s permission or sell merchandise featuring the design.

Sometimes, the designer may transfer the copyright to the author for a fee. Or the agreement may specify that the copyright will be shared between the designer and the author.

It’s important to get the agreement in writing and have a clear understanding of the arrangement before starting the project. A clear agreement can help avoid any misunderstandings and ensure that the project runs smoothly and successfully.

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4. Deciding between illustrated book covers vs stock image book covers

The first thing that you need to figure out before looking for any book cover designers is whether you want your book cover to be illustrated or to use stock imagery.

Stock image book covers

Stock image book covers are very common and can be designed to look unique to your book by creating a composite image or using image editing software. Green Hill Publishing book cover designers are skilled in using stock images and use this technique to create the majority of our book covers. To see our books, head over to our Australian Authors Store website.

Many stock image websites, such as Shutterstock, iStock, Getty Images, and Envato offer a wide variety of high-quality photos and graphics that can be used to create a book cover. Stock image book covers are very commonly used in fiction and non-fiction as it is very easy to source high-quality images in a range of different styles, themes, and subjects.

When hiring a book cover designer who using stock images, it’s important to convey the theme, genre, and your vision for the book succinctly and effectively to your designer. They will need to know:

  • whether you want photographs, and how many;
  • whether you want visual graphics, and of what style;
  • what is your focus subject (people, landscapes, objects, etc.);
  • what mood will best reflect your book; and
  • what style you want (minimalistic, typographic, etc.).

If you can convey these things to your book cover designer, you will be able to get a book cover that you are happy with while cutting down on the time it takes, and the images that are purchased (all stock imagery used will need to be purchased individually, though for concepts the book cover designer can just use previews with watermarks).

Stock image cover example: After you came
Stock image cover example: The Ancestral Ring of Hope
Stock graphics cover example: Storytelling the disciple making path

Illustrated book covers

Illustrated book covers feature original artwork that is created specifically and uniquely for your book. The artwork can take many forms, such as hand-drawn illustrations or digital illustrations. They are a popular choice for children’s books, picture books, and graphic novels, but can also be used for other types of books such as fiction and non-fiction. An illustrated book cover can help to convey the tone and theme of the book and can also make the book visually appealing to potential readers.

When working with the illustrator, it’s important to provide feedback and make revisions as needed to ensure the final illustration meets your vision and expectations. Remember: be a big picture thinker; neither the illustrators patience nor your budget are endless, so make sure that you are only asking for alterations on the book cover when it is needed. Once the illustration is complete, you will receive the final files in a format that can be used for the book cover, such as a high-resolution JPEG or PNG.

Keep in mind that Illustrated book covers tend to be more expensive than stock image book covers as they require a longer timeline to create.

Illustrated childrens cover: My Strong Heart
Illustrated childrens cover: My promise

Which is better: illustrated book covers or stock image book covers?

Whether you should get an illustrated book cover or a stock image book cover depends on your specific needs and goals for the book. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Budget: Illustrated book covers tend to be more expensive than stock image book covers. Stock image book covers can be a more cost-effective option, but the license fee for the stock image can be a considerable expense.
  • Time: Custom illustrated book covers can take longer to create as the illustrator will need time to create the design and make revisions. Stock image book covers can take less time as they can source their visuals fairly quickly.
  • Audience: If you are targeting younger readers, illustrated covers can be very effective in catching their attention. If your book is a childrens book, you will likely use the same childrens book illustrator for your cover to ensure consistency. Stock image book covers can also be effective for adult fiction or non-fiction books.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your budget, your timeline, your target audience, and also your own personal preferences. Do what is right for you and your book.

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5. Finding the right book cover designer for you

Green Hill Publishing specialises in bespoke book cover design. Our designers know the market and are skilled at working to a brief from the author. Head over to our Australian Authors Store website, or have a look at our publishing packages and see if we are the right solution for you!

If you’d like to shop around instead, there are many book cover designers out there who have very different styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Ask yourself a few questions before you start researching:

  1. What is the genre of my book?
  2. What is the target audience of my book?

Start compiling book covers that fall into the same categories as inspiration and figure what you like the best. From here you can start to look for book cover designers who do the things that you like. Go to online marketplaces such as Upwork and Freelancer, or social media platforms like Behance and Dribbble and search for book cover designers who create covers you like. They will have portfolios of all of their work available to look at—be sure to save your favourites for later reference.

Look at their reviews and testimonials, too. Book cover designing is like any job, past clients will likely have left reviews of their professionalism, service, and artwork to help other potential clients feel confident in the book cover designer that they’ve chosen.

Once you’ve made a list of potential designers, go back through and narrow down a short-list. Now, you’re ready to start contacting.

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