look at the designer's website. If the site is sloppy,
unprofessional, and littered with design flaws and grammatical
errors, then your book cover will have these same issues.
review the designer's other work. If you don't like the covers
displayed on his/her website, you won't be happy with the cover
he/she designs for your book.
Third, check the prices carefully. Most all cover designers use stock
images, whether purchased or free, the photography and illustrations
are rarely original work. If the price range is under $500, the
artwork is almost certainly stock photography, illustrations, or
clipart, which is ok, because stock images are even used by many of
the top, professional publishers.
the price exceeds $500, then you should expect original artwork. Ask
the designer. If the artwork is not original or, at the very least,
a collage of multiple images, then negotiate for a better rate or find
- The benefits of stock images are variety and price. With stock
images, you can have almost anything imaginable on your cover, even
fantasy images like a unicorn or a wizard; and the price is
reasonable if you use the designer's subscription service.
- The disadvantage is that the stock image is not unique. There is a
chance (albeit, a very slight chance) that your image could show up
on another author's book cover or, worse, on a billboard
advertisement. The good news is that there are now many millions of
stock images, so the odds are in your favor.
Fourth, there are many levels of original artwork; therefore, the
prices will vary considerably based on your request. For
example, an original photo shoot with models, custom clothing, and a
specific setting can cost between $1500 and $5000. The designer has
to pay the models and the photographer (unless he/she is a
professional photographer), plus purchase or rent the clothing, and
then travel to the specific setting (with all the players) to shoot
- However, an
excellent graphic designer that's proficient in Photoshop can
collage a detailed, digital photo like this for much less (about
half the price).
- And an artist can illustrate (draw or paint) such an image for
less (about one quarter of that price).
Get a detailed price quote in advance so you know exactly how much
you're paying and what you are paying for. Don't forget to ask how
much it cost for changes to the design after the work is complete.
Also, a professional designer should have the skills to follow the
print specifications (including uploading your cover) to the printer
or POD company of your choice.
And last, be sure to ask about the copyright. You should own the rights to
use the cover and its artwork for anything you want; however, if
stock images are used, be sure to inquire about the stock image
company's copyright rules. Most stock companies allow authors to use
the work for anything related to the promotion of the book; however,
mass printing t-shirts, coffee mugs , and other such products like
those advertised through companies such as Cafe Press may be
unauthorized or even illegal.