The number and kinds of services you can find on the internet has grown tremendously in the past decade, and that includes websites that allow anyone to become a published author. The number of self-published books (books produced by individuals rather than a professional publishing company) has skyrocketed. In the last five years, more than 650 million books have been published, and many of those have been produced by self-published authors. (Some estimates have put self-published books at about a third of all books. in the United States.)
When authors produce books themselves, they don’t have the professional book cover designers that publishing companies provide. Instead, they have to come up with their own cover designs. Even if that author is a great writer, they may not know how to design a book cover. (Or they may simply prefer someone else take that task off their hands.)
The need for book cover designers is great than ever. If you have graphic arts skills and can design a book cover, you can start your own book cover design business.
- You’ll be your own boss.
- You’ll do work you enjoy.
- You can use your natural talents.
- There is high demand for the service.
- You may have to buy some software.
- It’s not just about creativity. You’ll also need some business sense.
- The publishing business has its own language, so be prepared to learn it.
How to get started:
Getting started as a book cover designer is relatively easy. The first step is to learn the art of book cover design.
Learn the dimensions of book covers.
Print book covers come in various sizes. The most popular paperback sizes are 5 x 8 and 6 x 9. However, some publishers still publish hardcover books. Plus, e-books can be read on different devices so you’ll need to know how to create covers that look good on all smartphones, Kindles, Android tablets, and iPhones. Special bindings like spiral and saddle-stitch also mean that you’ll have some learning to do.
Start with the two primary book sizes and e-book formats, then grow from there.
Acquire your software.
The best book cover design software cost money, but there are a few free ones you can use to get started. You can upgrade later. Here’s a short list of top software programs for cover artists.
Get your first samples.
Some book cover designers offer one or two jobs for free to get started, or start with a discount and raise prices later. You can find author groups on Facebook by searching for “author groups” or “writer groups.”
Get more work.
You can find work in the Facebook author groups as well as gig marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork. LinkedIn is also a good place to find authors searching for book cover artists. At some point, you’ll want to build a website.
How much to charge:
Book cover design services range from very low to very high. As an upstart book design artist, you’ll want to respect your time and price your services fairly for your customers. A good starting point is $50 to $100 for e-book covers and $150 to $300 for paperback print covers.
Taking it to the next level:
After your business is off the ground and running, you’ll want to promote your service through social media and begin email marketing. On social media, Facebook and LinkedIn author groups are great places to meet self-publishing authors. For large publishing houses, you’ll want to contact them directly. MailChimp is a good place to start for offering a newsletter with easy-to-use templates and a free plan for beginners.
Since book covers are graphic in nature, you’ll want to post them on platforms that encourage graphic content. This includes Pinterest and Instagram.
You might also join a professional association like AIGA to learn more about how to promote your book cover design business and manage it more effectively. The Book Designer is a great blog you can read to learn great design skills, and they offer monthly contests for book cover designers. If you win a contest, you can use that to market your business effectively and earn yourself some bragging rights.