View Full Version : Cover Art cost?

09-25-2016, 12:00 PM
I'm wondering what is a reasonable cost for commissioning a piece of art for a book cover? Does a publishing company do this for you?

Wonder what the best-paid artists get?

Old Hack
09-25-2016, 12:08 PM
If you're published by a good trade publisher then no, you don't have to pay for this or for anything else related to your book's publication.

If you're self publishing your book then you, as publisher, have to commission and pay for your jacket artwork and design.

I'll move this from General Publishing Discussions to our Art And Design room, where there are more discussions on the subject and you'll get more precise answers about the costs involved of doing it yourself.

09-25-2016, 01:04 PM
It depends a) what you're looking for and b) the quality of the artist. As a professional designer, I charge around 300 for a book cover ($400) and in the region of 150 - 200 for an ebook cover. At times, when I do low-budget work, this can be lower. But then I don't provide pre-made covers and others do (though they regularly look pretty bad) and these come across as much cheaper. When commissioning illustrators and artists for clients, the prices vary wildly based on what they're doing, a simple illustration can be as little as 40 while a more detailed painting might cost just as much as the cover. The issue with cost is that very few professional and skilled designers would drop to these prices, on account of it really underselling their work, so many people get stuck either doing it themselves or hiring under-qualified designers/illustrators for a noticeable drop in quality.

In a publishing setting, the publisher would do all of this. They would commission designers, whether in-house or external, and put through briefs on art. As an author you wouldn't have much involvement other than to look at it at the end. You might be allowed to confirm a cover, but sometimes even this doesn't take place.

Katrina S. Forest
09-25-2016, 03:03 PM
I disagree that pre-made covers "regularly look bad." (Or at least, I disagree that they look bad much more often than customized covers do.) It completely depends on the artist. I think the issue more comes up when you consider if the cover reflects the story. If an author is browsing an artist's collection of pre-made covers and sees that perfect match, great. But don't go looking at pre-made covers expecting to find a good match. There may be none.

Dennis E. Taylor
09-25-2016, 06:05 PM
I paid $140 Canadian for a cover done through photo manipulation for my first book. At the other end, Stephan Martiniere charges $3K US and up per cover. Mind you, his stuff is gorgeous, but wow!

Anyway, the point is that there's a pretty wide range, even if you don't get into pre-made's.

09-27-2016, 12:26 AM
Choose your budget, be upfront about it, and you will find an artist that will work with you. A budget in the $400-$500 range can get you quite a nice cover. A budget in the $1500-$2000 range will get you a cover by an artist with a following, including a handful that will buy your book just to have a copy of the cover. A budget in the $200 range leaves you gambling with newbies or choosing from pre-mades, but if you're careful, either of those options can work out.

And to emphasise: this only matters if you are self-publishing. If you don't think you are self-publishing but this is coming around to you to budget and deal with, you are self-publishing. You just haven't figured that out yet.

09-27-2016, 04:02 AM
I paid US$199 for the digital cover for DSB from Deranged Doctor Design (http://www.derangeddoctordesign.com/). That also got me a 3D image for display. If I decide to go ahead and make the paperback available, they'll charge me $45 and have it to me in a week. They also gave me a free promo banner for my website.