Author Topic: Some advice on book covers for new authors  (Read 3998 times)  

Offline Trioxin 245

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Some advice on book covers for new authors
« on: January 07, 2021, 07:26:19 am »
Edit. In the spirit of civil discussion I took out the term fleecing. It was a bit much.

I am going to say some things that are going upset some people concerning ebook covers. So if you are a cover designer you should exit now.
This  post is for new authors that are worried about the cost of a book cover and not sure what to do. You have heard that having a good cover is important and that is certainly true. But what should you be paying?

TLDR, The overpricing of covers and targeting the fears of new authors is silly. It needs to stop. There are much cheaper options.

OK so you are a new author and you are ready to get your feet wet. You heard how important a good cover is and you start shopping around. Then the worry hits. 200,300, 800 bucks for a cover? Do I really need to spend that much?

If you are just starting out, the answer is no. And unless you are getting original artwork, the answer remains no. You can find plenty of designers that are affordable, hit the genre specifics of a cover and are well under one hundred bucks. That will include a print cover as well.

The prices that are being charged for ebook covers has gotten silly. (Yeah I know is a work of art, you can charge whatever and your time is important blah blah). 400 bucks for a cover. Another 60 for the audio-book cover. Another one hundred for the print.  Oh and the designer keeps the source file and wants you to promote their work with a link inside of your book. In fact a lot make it a requirement.(Notice how they dont pay you for this?)

Here some things that you might be thinking so lets address them now.

Why do they charge so much?  Because they know that the odds of you being successful is slim. They are going to take as much money as they can because they will never see you again. Web designers do the same thing offering their hosting package. Its just a way to get money upfront.

Are they scamming me? No. They are offering their services for a fee. Its upfront and its legit and they are allowed to ask any price they want. But keep in mind they are preying on your worries as a new author. That is why the first thing you read on their webpage usually has something like. "You spent hours polishing your first novel....and you dont want it to fail."

Why do they keep the source file? Or should I request it? What is it for? In simple terms a source file is all the different layers of your cover in one neat file. Before you agree to getting a ebook cover designed, you need to know if will receive that as well. Most professionals have no problem handing it over.  In fact most do. Be wary if they refuse and consider if you can afford NOT having it. (explained below)

Why should I want my source file? Will it help me down the road? With simple manipulation you can create your own print cover, social media banners, flyers, audio book covers  and so much more. Imagine each time you go to market your book on a different venue, with all the different sizes, it would cost you a fortune having to keep going back to the designer.

So what can I do? I know the importance of a professional cover but I cant dip into my childrens college savings

There are cheaper ways and more often than not you can get better quality. Do a google search. Go to facebook and look for designers/author groups and ask. Reddit, tumblr, the list is endless. You will be surprised what you will find.  I have had numerous books sell loads of copies. Never once did I pay anything over  a hundred. Not even close. Dont buy into the fear and certainly dont pay their fees!

The point of this is to get you to breathe and not take out a loan. Down the road if you want to go back and pay for an expensive cover, by all means do. But you do not need to when starting out.









« Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 12:38:04 am by Trioxin 245 »

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    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #1 on: January 07, 2021, 09:37:30 am »
    There are overpriced designers and underpriced ones, as with all services.

    I agree new authors don't need to spend a lot of money. I hit mid six figures with a catalog covered in $100 covers. Those were a good deal. The designer probably could have charged more.

    But, at a certain point, if I wanted to do better, I needed better covers. I bought custom photos, which really isn't necessary, but the $300 I spent on the design of each (a discount from the usual $400) was totally worth it. And my most expensive covers were completely worth it at $550.

    Covers are like books. They can be well designed. The can be on market. They can be good and on market. Good isn't always what sells.

    Now, I would still advice new authors to spend less, even if they have the money, as they're less likely to know what's on market (or good). But if someone has an eye for marketing and design, a cover is the best place to spend a little extra.

    Offline pugalug

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #2 on: January 07, 2021, 10:18:24 am »
    I don't know if it would help to hear from a gaming industry perspective or not, but my two cents...

    I've been lucky enough to get most of my game art paid for by the publisher, but I've had to pay for my own on a couple projects, and it was an interesting process to be sure.

    Things I stressed in my dealings with the artists, most of whom were younger and from marginalized backgrounds (think LGBTQ)

    1. I wanted to be fair to them. That was important to me. Authors/game creators get ripped off a lot, but artists do too, especially younger ones. If someone is going to spend 10 hours on a cover for me, they deserve a living wage, imo, so basically at least $15/hour minimum, probably more.

    2. I wrote out a simple contract and required all rights to the art, although I agreed they could use the images for their own portfolios.

    3. I gave them love on social media and did what I could to boost their presence and sing their praises about their work to other creators.

    4. I expected plenty of opportunities to see the WIP and to request revisions. I factored that into what I was willing to pay, since their time is worth something.

    5. My covers were totally original/illustrated and I generally didn't pay more than $300 for any of them. Both of us left the deals happy, and I've used some of them multiple times.

    I think it's important to have -some- leverage (money, knowledge, reputation; hopefully at least 2 of the 3) on your end because everything can be negotiated. You don't have to take or leave any offer, you can always suggest another option. Obviously the artist's workload and interest in your project affects how much they'll move, but it never hurts to ask. Ever.

    I think people can smell desperation a mile away, so I always put my expectations in such a way as to make it clear I had a LOT of other options to go with. Negotiations were always respectful and mutually beneficial (at least I viewed them as being as such).

    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #3 on: January 07, 2021, 11:15:19 am »
    I think it's good to talk these things out, and I agree that it's good to be practical and not rush into an expensive decision if you're just getting started.

    But, I also think we need to remember these are fellow creatives. Yes, our books may not make back the cost of covers, but that's our burden not anyone else's, and it's possible they will and beyond. The cover designer doesn't have a chance to make more depending on how good their art is, so they should at least be paid for their time.

    We wouldn't appreciate if it was us being hired to ghost a book, and then being told that the hours we work on something have nothing to do with what we should be paid because that book we're writing might not pay off for the person paying us to write it.

    This thread is for people like me, I'm about to pay for covers for the first time. I don't have much to say to people in my shoes as I'm just starting out, but what I will say is don't be afraid to talk with a designer. I found a designer on this board that appears to just be starting out designing covers as a side business, same as me with my writing. I reached out and discussed what I could spend, and what I needed, and they got back to me today and we came to agreement that works for both of us. It's possible to not overspend and also respect the work of other creatives.

    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #4 on: January 07, 2021, 12:51:13 pm »
    I think certain genres like sci-fi and fantasy need more elaborate artwork. The covers tend to be more expensive. Other genres need less elaborate images.

    As an aside,  I was on Depositphotos the other month and found an image I thought I'd use. It cost four dollars. I discovered the same image on a pre-made for fifty dollars. Nothing against it, but it shows it pays to shop around. A good cover doesn't have to cost the earth. At the same time, don't have a crappy one, as I've found to my cost.



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    Offline C.M.GUY

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 01:45:59 pm »
    Thank yo for the advice. As a person writing my first book I have done a lot of research about self-publishing. This board has a plethora of information about every aspect of being an author. It's priceless. I initially was going to pay someone for a cover (and I still may) but at this point I figured even a semi decent looking cover self made from Cova.com was the better way to go starting out. Figure I can use the extra cash for a solid editor and marketing (if the book is worth a damn). I am fortunate enough to have a solid IT career of over 22 years, so it wasn't so much what I could afford, but more of how much do I want to put into something that is most likely not going to sell very many copies, if any. Other words, how much do I want to invest in what at this point, is basically a hobby.

    I am not positive I am correct, but I have come to the opinion, after reading many different posts on several forums, that many first time authors think they will sell a million copies and score a movie. I hope that happens for them, but I have very low expectations for "commercial success" of my novel. I am doing this more for me and started off with wanting to be able to say I wrote a book. But the more I write, the more I find myself truly enjoying it.

    Just my two cents.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #6 on: January 07, 2021, 02:41:21 pm »
    I am going to say some things that are going upset some people concerning ebook covers. So if you are a cover designer you should exit now.
    This  post is for new authors that are worried about the cost of a book cover and not sure what to do. You have heard that having a good cover is important and that is certainly true. But what should you be paying?

    TLDR, The overpricing of covers and the fleecing of authors is silly. It needs to stop. There are much cheaper options.

    OK so you are a new author and you are ready to get your feet wet. You heard how important a good cover is and you start shopping around. Then the worry hits. 200,300, 800 bucks for a cover? Do I really need to spend that much?

    If you are just starting out, the answer is no. And unless you are getting original artwork, the answer remains no. You can find plenty of designers that are affordable, hit the genre specifics of a cover and are well under one hundred bucks. That will include a print cover as well.

    The prices that are being charged for ebook covers has gotten silly. (Yeah I know is a work of art, you can charge whatever and your time is important blah blah). 400 bucks for a cover. Another 60 for the audio-book cover. Another one hundred for the print.  Oh and the designer keeps the source file and wants you to promote their work with a link inside of your book. In fact a lot make it a requirement.(Notice how they dont pay you for this?)

    Here some things that you might be thinking so lets address them now.

    Why do they charge so much?  Because they know that the odds of you being successful is slim. They are going to take as much money as they can because they will never see you again. And if they do they are laughing to the bank. Web designers do the same thing offering their hosting package. Its just a way to get money upfront.

    Are they scamming me? No. They are offering their services for a fee. Its upfront and its legit and they are allowed to ask any price they want. But keep in mind they are preying on your worries as a new author. That is why the first thing you read on their webpage usually has something like. "You spent hours polishing your first novel....and you dont want it to fail."

    So what can I do? I know the importance of a professional cover but I cant dip into my childrens college savings

    There are cheaper ways and more often than not you can get better quality. Do a google search. Go to facebook and look for designers/author groups and ask. Reddit, tumblr, the list is endless. You will be surprised what you will find.  I have had numerous books sell loads of copies. Never once did I pay anything over  a hundred. Not even close. Dont buy into the fear and certainly dont pay their fees!

    The point of this is to get you to breathe and not take out a loan. Down the road if you want to go back and pay for an expensive cover, by all means do. But you do not need to when starting out.

    Spot on.

    I also tend to concentrate on genres/subgenres of which I'm not only a fan, but also ones where I can do the cover design myself (i.e. not a lot of heavy design/typography expertise required), and have it look comparable to the top sellers.

    Sure, I'd love to write UF, SFF, etc, but I don't have the design skills necessary to design covers on par with what sells in those subs, and the ROI isn't there for taking the time to become proficient enough in Photoshop, GIMP, etc (time better spent - better ROI - writing the next book) - and I save a lot of money not paying pros to design the highly technical covers which are almost always required to compete in those areas.

    Because, let's face it, while the odds do increase that you can sell well in those subs (UF, SFF, etc) with really good pro covers, the odds are nowhere near good enough to justify the price without already being among the top sellers to begin with.

    So, I'm better off writing and publishing in subs where the barrier to entry, in terms of competitive cover design, is much lower. Yes, my odds are still just as low in terms of becoming a bestseller via general visibility because of KDP saturation, but at least this way I'm not also out hundreds of dollars beyond what I have to spend on ads just to try and become visible within a genre/subgenre in the first place.

    A roundabout way of saying: Play to your strengths. (And, save your money)


    Offline ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #7 on: January 07, 2021, 03:20:01 pm »
    I am going to say some things that are going upset some people concerning ebook covers. So if you are a cover designer you should exit now.

    So you can disseminate lies as helpful advice? Nope. Sorry.



    This  post is for new authors that are worried about the cost of a book cover and not sure what to do. You have heard that having a good cover is important and that is certainly true. But what should you be paying?

    TLDR, The overpricing of covers and the fleecing of authors is silly. It needs to stop. There are much cheaper options.

    While I agree with you that some covers are terribly overpriced, not all covers are. Just because a cover designer is charging over a hundred dollars for a cover doesn't mean they're fleecing anyone. It means they need to make a living wage, and charging only a hundred bucks for an ecover isn't a good way to make that. What a designer charges needs to cover all their time spent on that cover. That means all the stock pics they used, all the time looking for the stock pics, all the time putting the cover together, and all the time making changes requested by the client. Not to mention, the client is also paying for the cover designer's experience and their knowledge of things like good typography and genre conventions.

    I'm not saying that anyone needs to spend $800 on a cover. Especially not on a photo-manip cover. And yes, you can get some good covers for under a hundred dollars. But a lot of the designers you see charging under a hundred dollars don't use properly licensed fonts, or properly licensed stock. They grab stock from places like Unsplash, where anyone can upload anything, whether they own the rights to or not. A stock pic from Shutterstock or Depositphotos is indemnified by them, so if they make a mistake and a pic gets uploaded that shouldn't, you're covered for up to certain amount. I think it's $10k. On the other hand, guess how much Unsplash indemnifies their pictures for. If you guessed zero, you would be correct. And because cover designers can't make a living wage selling covers for under a hundred dollars, they tend not to last in the business very long. So you're three covers into a series and you go back for another, and that designer isn't doing covers anymore. Oh! And a lot of those cheaper designers also tend to like to steal other people's art and use it on the covers they sell to people. I've seen more than a few authors get screwed, both out of the money they spent and out of the cover they love, because they found out that the art that was used wasn't stolen from another artist completely, and they have zero right to use it.



    Oh and the designer keeps the source file and wants you to promote their work with a link inside of your book. In fact a lot make it a requirement.(Notice how they dont pay you for this?)

    The designer keeps the source files for a couple of reasons. One, their art is their reputation, and they don't want someone messing with the art or the typography, and then having people think that the messed-with cover is the kind of work one can expect from them.  And two, stock licenses prohibit the stock pics being sent to someone else in a form that allows those stock pics to be extracted from the file. If the pic is licensed to the designer, they can't give it to someone else in its original form.



    Here some things that you might be thinking so lets address them now.

    Why do they charge so much?  Because they know that the odds of you being successful is slim. They are going to take as much money as they can because they will never see you again. And if they do they are laughing to the bank. Web designers do the same thing offering their hosting package. Its just a way to get money upfront.

    This is totally false. Most cover designers want their clients to be successful. Personally, I'm very proud of the fact that my portfolio is filled with all the covers of my many repeat clients. I love knowing that I had a part in helping them to sell their books. I also love hearing from a client whose work I rebranded that, even though they could never score a BookBub before, they got one with their rebranded covers on the first try.

    And even from a purely business perspective, this is still utterly ridiculous. Because freelancers isn't a particularly secure job. Certain times of year are much slower than others, and a lot of us like to know that they're going to have work not just now, but two months from now, four months from now, six months from now. And the easiest way to make sure of that is to develop good business relationships with clients who will keep coming back for each book they write.



    Are they scamming me? No. They are offering their services for a fee. Its upfront and its legit and they are allowed to ask any price they want. But keep in mind they are preying on your worries as a new author. That is why the first thing you read on their webpage usually has something like. "You spent hours polishing your first novel....and you dont want it to fail."

    No, we're not preying on anything. We want new authors to succeed, because those authors are the future of our business.



    So what can I do? I know the importance of a professional cover but I cant dip into my childrens college savings

    There are cheaper ways and more often than not you can get better quality. Do a google search. Go to facebook and look for designers/author groups and ask. Reddit, tumblr, the list is endless. You will be surprised what you will find.  I have had numerous books sell loads of copies. Never once did I pay anything over  a hundred. Not even close. Dont buy into the fear and certainly dont pay their fees!

    The point of this is to get you to breathe and not take out a loan. Down the road if you want to go back and pay for an expensive cover, by all means do. But you do not need to when starting out.

    No one is suggesting that any author should take out a loan, never mind new ones on their first book. There are plenty of ways to get a good book cover for a decent price. I sell premades on my site for as low as $50 because I want people on a budget to have access to nice, genre-appropriate covers. So do plenty of other designers. They're not as fancy as custom covers, but as long as they fit the genre they'll do the job just fine.

    The flip side of this is that a lot of authors end up with a cover that doesn't suit the genre, which means that it won't convert for ads, and so their potential career gets derailed before it even gets off the ground, because they can't make sales.


    I'm not saying someone shouldn't make their own cover if they want to. Or buy a really cheap one. They should do what's right for them. But they should make an educated choice, and not just do it because some anonymous poster told them all cover designers who charge a living wage are a bunch of scamming, predatory jerks.




    Edited at the brackets to remove profanity. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
    « Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 10:27:24 pm by ShayneRutherford »
             

    Offline Gessert Books

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #8 on: January 07, 2021, 04:41:59 pm »
    I think the point about cheaper options is fair without going down the road of saying cover designers are fleecing and laughing to the bank. It's tough and unpredictable work.

    Offline c'est la vie

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #9 on: January 07, 2021, 06:41:47 pm »
    There's nothing wrong with making a cover yourself if you are able to figure it out or getting a cheap simple cover that's nothing more than a picture with text on top if you think it's enough for your genre, but there's also nothing wrong with designers deciding what their time is worth.

    It's tinfoil hat stuff to suggest they're out for anything other than appropriate compensation for their time and effort.

    Offline NikOK

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #10 on: January 08, 2021, 06:04:14 am »
    Maybe one of the important steps to getting covers is to set a semi-firm budget upfront.  You will always find that $800 cover that would look great on your book, but you might be able to find something that works well for $100-$150, it just might not be the first thing you see.  Might absolutely be worth it to say, "I'm going to spend X and I'm going to look around for a few weeks and see what I see."

    I guess this is fresh in mind because I was looking at covers recently.  The urge to go with a really fancy cover was there, but I had to realize that it's not going to be one cover.  It's going to be the next book and the one after that too.  I definitely have to think about my budget as what I can afford over time, not what I could probably float right now.  Plus, a good cover is important, can't stress that enough, but the reader is really only looking at it for a few seconds.  The absolutely perfect fancy cover may not be necessary.  Scaled back and catchy might be just as effective.

    Bear in mind that this all comes from someone who's covers are very much a work in progress.  This is just what I've been thinking as I'm looking around.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #11 on: January 08, 2021, 06:17:47 am »
    I think the point about cheaper options is fair without going down the road of saying cover designers are fleecing and laughing to the bank. It's tough and unpredictable work.

    Never said the work was easy and I would agree that most self owned businesses are tough and unpredictable. In fact, cant think of one that is not.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #12 on: January 08, 2021, 06:19:10 am »
    I think certain genres like sci-fi and fantasy need more elaborate artwork. The covers tend to be more expensive. Other genres need less elaborate images.

    As an aside,  I was on Depositphotos the other month and found an image I thought I'd use. It cost four dollars. I discovered the same image on a pre-made for fifty dollars. Nothing against it, but it shows it pays to shop around. A good cover doesn't have to cost the earth. At the same time, don't have a crappy one, as I've found to my cost.

    I agree and why I  made mention about original artwork. I have seen real artist here showcase their original covers that I imagine takes dozens of hours to create.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #13 on: January 08, 2021, 06:28:16 am »
    but there's also nothing wrong with designers deciding what their time is worth.

    It's tinfoil hat stuff to suggest they're out for anything other than appropriate compensation for their time and effort.

    I made it clear that they can charge whatever they wish.  As to the tinfoil nice attempt to paint a different picture.

    Offline c'est la vie

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #14 on: January 08, 2021, 09:12:26 am »
    I made it clear that they can charge whatever they wish.  As to the tinfoil nice attempt to paint a different picture.

    I didn't say you didn't, I said there's nothing wrong with that.

    You have many points worth considering, but you also talked about designers like they're all part of some greedy cabal bent on manipulating naive authors out of their savings because they know they won't be successful and they've got one chance for a money grab.

    Everyone decides what their time, effort, and skill are worth to them. That doesn't mean everyone agrees or can pay them that sum. Authors don't need to think all designers are out to exploit them to make an educated decision on what's best for their circumstances and budgets.

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #15 on: January 08, 2021, 10:17:44 am »
    Some authors make squat. Some make millions. The apparent quality of their work can vary wildly with no seeming correlation among price, earnings, and value, except as value is defined as what the customer will pay and how often.

    The same with cover designers. And musicians, actors, and anyone in the creative arts.

    If they deliver what they promised for the price agreed, they are not scamming or ripping off. Only if they lie or do not deliver the promised product are they scamming or ripping off. Caveat emptor.

    Covers seldom "make" a book, but they can "break" it. It's important to get covers that fit in with the genre and do not display signals of amateurism, such as inappropriate fonts, being too crowded, unbalanced composure, etc. I have seen horrid covers from the authors themselves that are certainly hurting sales.

    So, get a cover that is genuinely good enough and appropriate to your genre, for whatever you consider a reasonable price, and move forward. Don't personalize it.


    Offline Gessert Books

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #16 on: January 08, 2021, 01:57:29 pm »
    Never said the work was easy and I would agree that most self owned businesses are tough and unpredictable. In fact, cant think of one that is not.

    My point is that you painted the pricing as sorta nefarious, but it's not. It reflects the work. You mentioned that you can get a cover for under $100, and you can, but FWIW you can't even get 2hrs DTP at a copy shop for that. I think you sorta kneecapped your point about not feeling pressured to spend a bundle from the start by going in on cover designers. You're mistaken about a lot of that.

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #17 on: January 08, 2021, 05:00:39 pm »
    I think covers are like editing, promotions, marketing, etc. If you can do a decent job yourself, then save your money.  If not, invest wisely!  8)

    There are a lot of resources here and some very talented people.  One reason I came back to the forum.

    Author of Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense and Historical Non-Fiction.
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    Offline Clay

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #18 on: January 08, 2021, 07:09:48 pm »
    Are they scamming me? No. They are offering their services for a fee. Its upfront and its legit and they are allowed to ask any price they want. But keep in mind they are preying on your worries as a new author. That is why the first thing you read on their webpage usually has something like. "You spent hours polishing your first novel....and you dont want it to fail."

    I 100% agree with the above. Though your comment earlier about cover artists laughing their way to the bank wasn't really fair. They're running a business, so of course they want you to think you need them and that their prices are fair, even if they know you could get a better deal elsewhere. But that doesn't mean that they don't want their clients to go on and be successful.

    The gist of your post is accurate though. In most cases newer authors don't need super expensive covers, they'll be better off buying a reasonably priced, genre appropriate cover and spending the money they saved on ads. 

    Why do they keep the source file? Or should I request it? What is it for? In simple terms a source file is all the different layers of your cover in one neat file. Before you agree to getting a ebook cover designed, you need to know if will receive that as well. Most professionals have no problem handing it over.  In fact most do. Be wary if they refuse and consider if you can afford NOT having it. (explained below)

    In my experience most wont hand over the layered PSD files. Though they should hand over the PSD file that lets you edit the title. If they wont do that then I refuse to do business with them.

    Offline ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #19 on: January 08, 2021, 09:27:23 pm »
    In my experience most wont hand over the layered PSD files. Though they should hand over the PSD file that lets you edit the title. If they wont do that then I refuse to do business with them.

    No, most professional designers will not hand over the PSDs. The designs we create are the best form of advertising for our business. We don't want someone messing with the typography and ruining it, and then having a potential client see that ruined design and think that's what they can expect from us.

    It should also be noted that a lot of designers have a large supply of fancy, and somewhat expensive, fonts that they use on covers. Even if the PSD was turned over to the client, if they don't have that font installed on their computer, they can't edit the title without having the font change to something else.

             

    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #20 on: January 08, 2021, 10:30:05 pm »
    I'll chuck my 2c in ...

    I do think that new authors should set a budget and shop around, safe in the knowledge that they can probably get a decent cover for under $100. I don't think (as a new author) you should think about spending any more because your book may well plummet to the bottom of the store even if your cover is excellent, and hence, you'll never recoup your outlay, and losing money is definitely not what we are trying to achieve.

    If you have the skills, by all means have a go at your own covers. You may be able to produce covers that are good enough. But try to be objective when it comes to assessing your own work. If, at the end of the day, your cover art doesn't stand up against the top books in the genre, it's time to find someone who can do the work for you, within your budget.

    Hopefully, you will make a success of this writing thing, and at some time in the future when you do, you will have the luxury of being able to approach top designers that do bespoke work. Naturally, you'll be paying top dollar at that stage, but you will not only be able to afford it, it will indeed make a difference to your bottom line.

    Just bear in mind that covers, whilst thy are important to your success, are just one component of the puzzle that you need to piece together.

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #21 on: January 08, 2021, 11:19:21 pm »

    As an aside,  I was on Depositphotos the other month and found an image I thought I'd use. It cost four dollars. I discovered the same image on a pre-made for fifty dollars. Nothing against it, but it shows it pays to shop around.

    I have scoured the site of a certain well known cover designer and found many of his premades are simply images from Shutterstock with titles added. It can work, but you can do it yourself with any decent photo editing software.

    As an aside, it doesn't help when a new author comes here and is told by a poster that books will only sell if they pay more than $225 for the cover.

    OP, I think this is a very useful subject to discuss. Thank you for posting it.


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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #22 on: January 08, 2021, 11:27:23 pm »
    I agree that a beginning writer probably shouldn't spend big on a cover unless they know that the book has legs. You can get well-priced well-made covers from premade cover sites.

    But.

    I do not like the way the OP is framed.

    Nobody is fleecing anyone. If you pay $800 for a cover (I've done this) you pay for the designer's skill and timeliness. There is zero point in trying to cheapskate it when you have zero artistic skill (even to pick out which el cheapo designers are any good) if they're only going to flake out on you. Flaking out happens a lot in cover design. A LOT. Why? Because the artist doesn't get paid adequately and decides this is not a viable business model and gets a different job.

    While you can (and probably should) make do with something cheaper when you're just starting until you know that your writing has legs, there comes a point where you should also consider paying someone 1. to get a decent cover, 2. delivered on time, 3. by someone who will be available to do the next cover in the series.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #23 on: January 09, 2021, 12:26:49 am »
    No, most professional designers will not hand over the PSDs. The designs we create are the best form of advertising for our business. We don't want someone messing with the typography and ruining it, and then having a potential client see that ruined design and think that's what they can expect from us.

    It should also be noted that a lot of designers have a large supply of fancy, and somewhat expensive, fonts that they use on covers. Even if the PSD was turned over to the client, if they don't have that font installed on their computer, they can't edit the title without having the font change to something else.

    Side note- The above is not true about source file. If you continue to read this thread you will find out why he is saying that. (tldr , he refuses to give it to his clients so it is in his best interest to say most do not hand them over. And if you re read and then go to his website and search prices and terms, you will find out why he is so mad.)

    So I wondered why this poster was so upset and arguing with every single point I made. Plus his accusations of accusing me of lies (his words not mine.) So I clicked on his webpage and basically lots of points I have warned people about ie expensive covers, keeping source file, making you add their website link to your book.....HE DOES.


    And guess what? Thats fine, its his business and he should run it as he sees fit. Ive made this clear from the get go. But its a tell tale sign to come on here attack people personally. Based on what he has shown so far, imagine doing business with this guy and he flips on you.



    Edited to fix quotation and remove profanity. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
    « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 10:58:35 pm by Becca Mills »

    Offline ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
    « Reply #24 on: January 09, 2021, 01:09:17 am »
    Side note- The above is not true about source file. If you continue to read this thread you will find out why he is saying that. (tldr , he refuses to give it to his clients so it is in his best interest to say most do not hand them over. And if you re read and then go to his website and search prices and terms, you will find out why he is so mad.)

    So I wondered why this poster was so upset and arguing with every single point I made. Plus his accusations of accusing me of lies (his words not mine.) So I clicked on his webpage and basically lots of points I have warned people about ie expensive covers, keeping source file, making you add their website link to your book.....HE DOES.

    Wow. More lies. Most of the designers I know of (over a hundred that are in one of my design groups alone) do not give out PSDs. Most good, reputable designers will not. Because, as stated above, we don't want our designs messed up by a non-designer. Also, because stock licenses forbid the stock being extractable from the files we turn over to the client.

    I'm mad because you slagged off an entire group of service providers and made us all sound like predatory scammers.

    Not every single point. Just the incorrect ones.

    No, I will not give out my PSDs, but I'm not sure how I can make this any clearer. I work with stock, therefore I can't give out the layered files. It's not some conspiracy, or a way to screw people over. In part, it's about following the rules. Any designer who works with stock and gives out PSDs is violating the stock usage license.

    Yes, I do charge $250 for an ebook cover. I'm not the cheapest out there. But I'm not even close to the most expensive. And I also have $50 premades on my site, so that authors starting out can get a nice cover on a budget-friendly price. I notice how, when you're busy slagging me off, you don't bother to mention that part.

    And again, more lying. I do not make any client add my website or my name to their book. I never have, and I never will. If people give me credit, I certainly appreciate it. But I have never even asked a client to do it, never mind demanded.


    And guess what? Thats fine, its his business and he should run it as he sees fit. Ive made this clear from the get go. But its a tell tale sign to come on here attack people personally. Based on what he has shown so far, imagine doing business with this guy and he flips on you.

    Uh, no. Sorry. I didn't attack anyone. I defended myself, and my fellow designers, from some anonymous rando making false accusations with no backing. When someone accuses you unjustly of something, I'm sure you get a little hot under the collar, so I have no idea why you're surprised that a cover designer would feel that way when you call them scammers who don't give a crap about their clients. Because you are wrong. Many of us do care about our clients. But caring about our clients doesn't put food on the table, so we also have to charge a decent amount for our work, skills, and knowledge, so that we might pay our bills.

    The funny thing about all of this is, if it hadn't been for all the cheap shots, my comments would have been much different. Because I agree - no one needs to spend all kinds of money on a cover for their first book. They can get a perfectly serviceable one for way cheaper. In most genres, a decent cover that makes the genre clear is all you need to get started. It doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to fit the genre, and if someone can do that on Canva, power to them. But when someone starts casting aspersions and telling lies about cover designers, I become much less interested in agreeing with the good points they made, and much more interested in offering a counterpoint to the lies.



    Edited to fix quote and remove profanity. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
    « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 11:01:25 pm by Becca Mills »
             

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      Offline jb1111

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #25 on: January 09, 2021, 03:15:18 am »
      Interesting thread. I think a lot of the expense may depend on the genre. If one is starting out, it's probably a good thing for them to look over the competition and at least match the cheapest cover designs that actually sell, and then perhaps go up from there.

      Offline Stagewalker

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #26 on: January 09, 2021, 07:32:02 am »
      Colleagues, I am an amateur photographer. I am comfortable with Photoshop Elements and AutoCadd. I created all the covers for the books you see in my signature. They all include manipulated photos I took or requested permission to use. Some include elements created in AutoCadd  I did this because I could. Not everyone has access to the photographic subjects I have in my area.

      In retrospect, I probably would have been better off hiring a professional cover designer, but these covers cost me only my time.

      Look at the covers and decide.

      Bob

       
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      Offline Doglover

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #27 on: January 09, 2021, 07:41:22 am »
      Colleagues, I am an amateur photographer. I am comfortable with Photoshop Elements and AutoCadd. I created all the covers for the books you see in my signature. They all include manipulated photos I took or requested permission to use. Some include elements created in AutoCadd  I did this because I could. Not everyone has access to the photographic subjects I have in my area.

      In retrospect, I probably would have been better off hiring a professional cover designer, but these covers cost me only my time.

      Look at the covers and decide.

      Bob
      Do you realise your links below don't go to your product page?

      Anyway, what I wanted to say was that many people make their own covers; I do myself and I have people asking if I would make them one. But, for what I write they are fairly basic and I use Photoshop. If I wanted to write fantasy or sci-fi I would definitely not attempt it myself. There are many good graphics that can be bought from stock photo sites and used with the text added, or I can manipulate a couple of stock photos. But not everyone can do this and I think those are the people the post was aimed at. Those and new authors who might be on a tight budget. For them, I would say get a premade, if you can't do it yourself. They should be fairly reasonably priced.


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      Offline Clay

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #28 on: January 10, 2021, 02:27:00 pm »
      No, most professional designers will not hand over the PSDs.

      You're speaking about your own business. A lot of professional designers WILL hand over the flattened PSD file so that you can edit the title in the future. There are tons that wont, probably true, but newcomers have the right to know before they purchase an expensive custom design they have the option to NOT work with cover artists who operate in that manner.




      Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
      « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 10:45:36 pm by Becca Mills »

      Offline ShayneRutherford

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #29 on: January 10, 2021, 03:53:14 pm »
      You're speaking about your own business. A lot of professional designers WILL hand over the flattened PSD file so that you can edit the title in the future.

      I'm speaking about a lot of cover designer's businesses. I know this, because I spend a lot of time in cover design groups, and we discuss things like this.

      There are tons that wont, probably true, but newcomers have the right to know before they purchase an expensive custom design they have the option to NOT work with cover artists who operate in that manner.

      Of course they have that right. They can work, or not work, with whoever they want.




      Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
      « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 10:47:50 pm by Becca Mills »
               

      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #30 on: January 10, 2021, 04:15:31 pm »
      Most designers won't hand over the file (flattened or otherwise) but some will for an extra fee.

      New authors certainly shouldn't expect it. And certainly not for free.

      It's true that designers sometimes go MIA mid series, or they become booked very far out, which can make it hard to get a cover on time.

      And, certainly, some designers are not so easy to work with or but that timely. IME a lot of issues with designers come from communication. Authors don't have a visual vocabulary. Designers don't always know how to work around that. They don't always keep authors posted on timelines. And different people have different processes. Sometimes they don't mesh well.

      But none of that includes scamming. It's hard working with other people sometimes, especially if you have something specific on mind... Or if you really don't know what your cover should look like.

      Offline Bite the Dusty

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #31 on: January 10, 2021, 04:35:56 pm »
      NikOK, please extend your pleasant vibes to every thread possible. It encourages discussion over fighting, and we need more of that, not less.




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      « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 10:49:00 pm by Becca Mills »

      Offline boxer44

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #32 on: January 10, 2021, 04:36:10 pm »
      Like any kind of art, writing, photos, with copyright.  You can buy whatever rights you want, or will pay for, or that the artist is willing to sell.  If I were to pay an artist to do any artwork for me, I'd buy all rights, or go elsewhere. 

      I'd never want my book cover in any form to appear on any other books. AND, if that book hits the charts, then the artist still has the rights for peripheral promotions - Like T-shirts, posters, mugs, etc. But that's just me, and how I feel personally about it.  Then again, I create my own covers, or my wife does (an artist as well) ... so its more a personal issue with us.

      I believe new authors - unless can you bankroll yourself - don't need extravagant covers, depending on genre. Some genre almost insist on a great piece of art, fantasy and science fiction come to mind.  But others, like most romance, need a male or female model, or both, maybe neither, and don't require the time and effort that goes into those others.  In fact, success wears a lot of hats - cover, blurb, exposure, writing style, patience, and likely a piece of luck stirred into the pot.  Any one of those missing likely effects the success of an author or an artist.

      When e-books first appeared with an apparent seventy percent profit, authors jumped right out there with a 3.99 or 4.99 book, still thinking seventy percent.  Then the business end of publishing emerged, and that seventy percent became sixty, then fifty, the forty, then thirty or less when cover art, promotion, advertising, editing, took its bite.  When an author pays a hundred bucks for a cover, that author can recover that fairly soon - or even eat it. But when it costs eight or nine hundred, that's takes a bigger wallet, and a lot more sales to even break even on the cover alone.

      Then consider freebies, ARC, and other components of a publishing business. Computer, internet, programs, and operating fees.  Now, we're really getting up there in costs, and feeling a big chunk of that seventy percent disappearing.




      Offline Bite the Dusty

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #33 on: January 10, 2021, 04:39:21 pm »
      I've seen authors time and time again get upset over the ignorance of readers. Why won't they do x, don't they understand x, etc. Doesn't it make sense that designers might get frustrated with us sometimes, especially if we're talking about things we don't fully understand as if we do. It's so easy to assume the worst when you could just ask why something is standard instead.

      I think there's some truth to the saying you get what you pay for.
      « Last Edit: January 11, 2021, 10:04:11 am by Bite the Dusty »

      Offline Sam B

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #34 on: January 10, 2021, 04:45:29 pm »
      Yeah, I've worked with six different cover designers, all professional individuals whom I would thoroughly recommend, paid between $40 and $400 for a single cover, and think every single one of them was worth the cost--especially the $400 ones.

      Not a single one of those designers has given me a PSD, nor have I asked for one, because I paid to use their art, I don't own it. Also, usage laws are pretty strict about multiple people using stock photos that have only been paid for once.

      Pay what you can afford for the best cover you can get for your book. If it's $20, that's amazing. If it's $800 and you can afford it, good for you.

      Offline NikOK

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #35 on: January 10, 2021, 05:02:16 pm »
      I've seen authors time and time again get upset over the ignorance of readers. Why won't they do x, don't they understand x, etc. Doesn't it make sense that designers might get frustrated with us sometimes, especially if we're talking about things we don't fully understand as if we do. It's so easy to assume the worst when you could just ask why something is standard instead.


      I totally agree with you here.  Doing something for your job is always a lot different than you think it would be in your head.  I'd bet that there are a ton of things cover designers do that I would never even think about.  Super point!

      Offline Usedtoposthere

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #36 on: January 10, 2021, 06:09:02 pm »
      Yeah, I've worked with six different cover designers, all professional individuals whom I would thoroughly recommend, paid between $40 and $400 for a single cover, and think every single one of them was worth the cost--especially the $400 ones.

      Not a single one of those designers has given me a PSD, nor have I asked for one, because I paid to use their art, I don't own it. Also, usage laws are pretty strict about multiple people using stock photos that have only been paid for once.

      Pay what you can afford for the best cover you can get for your book. If it's $20, that's amazing. If it's $800 and you can afford it, good for you.
      Same. And I agree completely. I sold initially based on my covers and my titles. 

      Paying a good cover designer is like paying a good repairman. Maybe the repair is easy, but did you know how to do it? My covers don't take my designer long, but she's incredibly good at hitting the tone I'm going for with that series, and locating me within the genre while still keeping me firmly on-brand.

      Your cover matters. If you have terrific design skills and are willing to invest serious time to learn how to create a knockout cover that fits in your genre--awesome. If not, pay somebody.

      And I didn't see anything wrong with Shayne's responses. Heck, I agree with him.

      Offline Doglover

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #37 on: January 10, 2021, 10:07:42 pm »
      You're speaking about your own business. A lot of professional designers WILL hand over the flattened PSD file so that you can edit the title in the future.

      If they are flattened, they are not the source files. As Shayne said, he doesn't want anyone fiddling around with the individual layers and ruining the design. That's not the same as a flattened file with just an extra layer for the text.


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      Offline abgwriter

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #38 on: January 10, 2021, 11:38:05 pm »
      I find this debate interesting because I come to it from both sides of the spectrum. Three years ago, I was a brand new author who created their own cover, and today, I am a graphic designer that works with several authors and whose prices range from $50.00 to $225.00 (yes, I'm one of the mean designers according to this thread). I'm also in the same designer group Shayne mentioned, btw, so it's not some mythical lie they are making up. And for what it's worth, none of the 100+ designers of that group would give their PSD for free (some do for a fee, including me), because of many reasons, most of which are just as Shayne mentioned. All I want to say, is that as an author, none of us would skirt when it comes to editing, type-setting or proofreading our book, because it's the things that will make our art the best it can possibly be. A cover (although it may seem different to some people), it's not different. Designers don't do what they want and just charge you for it whatever price they want. They take every suggestion from the author into account, they spend hours adding details, changing things, scouring for fonts and stock for which they pay out of pocket, just to create a single work for an author. Those stock and fonts they might never use again in another cover.
      And we've talked about designers flaking authors, but nobody's mentioned the other way around. I've had plenty of authors that have started a series with me, used my artistry and expertise to create an original design for their first book, and then take that same design that I spent hours on to a cheaper designer for them to replicate or change slightly for the rest of the books of the series. And can I complain about that? Of course not, because they have every right to do whatever works best for their budget. I'm just mentioning it so that people following this thread may get another idea of why some designers charge the way they do.
      As a brand new author, I created my own covers, and they worked for me at the time, as I am sure they could work for any new author with an eye for aesthetic and art and some skills to pull it out. God knows there are several services that can help them create something they are happy with, either free or inexpensively. But you shouldn't belittle the work designers do just to hammer that point home. Also, be careful when you recommend new authors to always go for the cheaper options. The horror stories of authors who have bought covers on sites like Fiverr for a heavily discounted price and then found out that their art is either stolen or has copyright infringement are a dime a million. New authors don't have to know about the design market. They are new authors. The ones who know the design market are designers themselves, those who have been working it for a while and are familiar with how the rules work for the publishing world. Those experienced and knowledgeable designers usually charge more than $100 for a cover, so if you paint all the designers who charge more than $100 for a cover (with paperback included, if I understood your OP) as scamming sharks out to prey on the poor, gullible new authors, you are effectively closing the door on them learning exactly what the market entails, and setting them out for failure even more.
      I agree with the OP's underlying point, that new authors shouldn't have to pay $800.00 for a cover for their first book (hell, for my first book I paid for my editing with a service trade, save up where you can!), but belittling the work of an entire area of service professionals is hardly the right way to let them know this. 
      « Last Edit: January 11, 2021, 11:33:48 am by abgwriter »
       

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      Offline Gessert Books

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #39 on: January 11, 2021, 10:25:20 am »
      Yeah, providing source files for free is not something generally done in any area of graphic design. The usual practice is optionally sell them, usually for a pretty significant amount; some may offer em up for little to nothing but this isn't really the norm on the whole. So like with the sub-$100 covers thing: it's great when you can find someone that does that, and they do exist; but folks that don't aren't being dodgy or anything.

      Offline liamashe

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #40 on: January 12, 2021, 04:32:07 pm »
      I find this debate interesting because I come to it from both sides of the spectrum. Three years ago, I was a brand new author who created their own cover, and today, I am a graphic designer that works with several authors and whose prices range from $50.00 to $225.00 (yes, I'm one of the mean designers according to this thread). . .

      Very nicely put! Full time designer and part time author here, as well, and I truly appreciated your perspective on the discussion.



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      Offline edipet

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #41 on: January 13, 2021, 01:33:54 am »
      I made it clear that they can charge whatever they wish.  As to the tinfoil nice attempt to paint a different picture.

      I read your post on the top, the long one, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said. Yes, further down there was a rebuke from someone on every statement you made. It sounded conspicuously like a designer or someone in the e-cover design business.

      There is no excuse for any designer to charge $300 per cover, much less $800. There is no reason for them to charge even above $100 - all of them use and re-use the same free stock images/covers - shutterstock, bigstock, and any other pix site. There are couple of dozen fonts that are used across the genres and that's it. You don't have to 'pirate' fonts; they're free on download - tons of them. A custom cover means nothing. Most often it is the same as the premade covers they display on their sites. Those that cost $50 - $80.

      I know a cover designer who charged $800 per cover to an indie author who is well-established and making a living from self-publishing so he could afford it; but I saw the same cover with very minor alteration on the designer's website as a premade, for $80.

      I know for a fact that epublishers - small publishers - have cover designers on retainer or contract, and pay no more than $20 per cover. I got that from a graphic artist who has worked for a small publisher for the last twenty years. And it's still $20. But he makes money because it's volume. These are all facts when it comes to ebook cover costs.

      But there is another collection of facts that ecover designers don't want to hear about - and that is that 98% of indie authors, self-publishers do NOT make more than $1500 per year from their writing. They're artists. In my opinion they occupy a higher rung than ecover designers. But indie authors can't 'demand' or set their own price for their books because they would sink in that endless sea of self-published works.

      Your advice for novice writers actually applies to all indie writers. You need not - and should not - pay more than $80 or less for an ecover. Maybe $100 if you want a print wraparound but why would you spend money on trade paperback when Amazon is the only one making money from those. Amazon and third-party re-sellers who do not pass any royalties from trade-paperbacks to you. You spend all that money on making a paperback and Amazon 'entices' third parties to come to their marketplace by letting them sell, and re-sell your books, by-passing you with royalties. Stick to e-books and ecovers.

      Shop around all the ebook cover designers and their websites. Pick those who have premades and then make a choice from those. And if you ever make it as far as being able to make a good living from your writing, then you can get fanciful and go rub shoulders with artists who try to convince you that you're getting a unique masterpiece for $800 a pop. If you can afford it, it's fun to believe you are getting a unique product. But 98% of us can't afford it. So designers should come down from their artistic cloud and shake hands with reality.


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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #42 on: January 13, 2021, 03:27:11 am »
      From my perspective, I'm not sure why i would need to spend $200+ on a book cover. That's not because I don't think it's worth it or that designers aren't worth their prices, but I tend to think it helps if you have a specific idea in mind. Genre also makes a difference. Personally, as I have images and fonts in mind, some of the hard work is already done. While I will always think quality is important, I'm sometimes perturbed by this long list of things you absolutely MUST spend hundreds on or you'll be lost in the crowd - you have to get an expensive cover, an top editor, a top proof-reader, a top formatter. For most of us, the likelihood on ever seeing a return on this is very slim no matter how slick it appears. Again, I fully respect the craft and if I was making enough on sales, I'd happily pay someone to do just about everything other write the book itself. However, while I will always speculate to accumulate to some degree, I can't justify spending the kind of money that I'll never ever see back even if I live to be as old as Yoda.

      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #43 on: January 13, 2021, 11:10:17 am »
      But there is another collection of facts that ecover designers don't want to hear about - and that is that 98% of indie authors, self-publishers do NOT make more than $1500 per year from their writing. They're artists. In my opinion they occupy a higher rung than ecover designers. But indie authors can't 'demand' or set their own price for their books because they would sink in that endless sea of self-published works.

      Do you really think pricing for designers is different? If they charge more than their peers, they price themselves out of the market. It's the same situation. Yes, one is a service and one is a product, but both are subject to the whims of capitalism.

      If a designer is reselling the custom cover they made you, then, yes, they are cheating you. But I have never seen a designer do this. They may riff off the cover and make something similar. They may even have a signature look. I can usually tell when one of my designers did someone's cover. There's just something about her design. But they don't repeat designs.

      Offline ShayneRutherford

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #44 on: January 13, 2021, 12:01:09 pm »
      I read your post on the top, the long one, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said. Yes, further down there was a rebuke from someone on every statement you made. It sounded conspicuously like a designer or someone in the e-cover design business.

      I am a cover designer. There was no 'suspiciously' about it, because I said it straight out in at least one of my posts.

      And yes, I disagreed with the OP. Because a lot of what he was saying was incorrect. If he'd stopped at saying that authors don't need to spend a lot of money on covers, I would have agreed with him. If he'd stopped at saying beginner authors shouldn't spend a lot of money on covers, I would have agreed with that, too. But then he started casting aspersions on our entire industry, and that's when I disagreed with him. Because we're not all a bunch of scammers who don't care about our authors, and I won't stay silent while someone says we are.


      There is no excuse for any designer to charge $300 per cover, much less $800. There is no reason for them to charge even above $100 -

      How about all of our time and expertise? Or the fact that we need to eat and pay our bills just like you do? If you don't want to pay for a cover, that's totally up to you. But please don't crap on our entire industry just because you don't feel the need to use it.


      all of them use and re-use the same free stock images/covers - shutterstock, bigstock, and any other pix site. There are couple of dozen fonts that are used across the genres and that's it.

      This is totally incorrect. Shutterstock and Bigstock, as well as many other sites, are not 'free'. They are 'royalty free', which means the people who use them don't have to pay royalties for using them. But the stock costs us money to license. And yes, of course we use stock. That's how a lot of us offer covers at a much lower price than $800. Because we're not doing illustrations from scratch.

      And yes, there are certain fonts that tend to show up a lot in certain genres. That's because they represent the genres so well. But most of them cost money. Some are quite expensive. To a lot of people that's a value-add, because they like the really fancy fonts. They want a really nice cover that looks like a piece of art, and they're willing to spend the money to get it.



      ... 98% of indie authors, self-publishers do NOT make more than $1500 per year from their writing.

      This is very true. Well, I'm not sure about the 98% part, but a lot of authors don't make much money from their books. A lot of authors don't even make $1500 per year. Some make less. Some make none at all. But that's got nothing to do with cover designers. That's got to do with the fact that a lot of self-publishers don't treat their writing like a business. They don't advertise. They think they can just throw their books out there and they'll float on their own. But they won't. They go super cheap on the editing, or just don't do it at all, and then wonder why they keep getting reviews that complain about the poor editing. They don't understand things like genres, or the need to have a cover (even if it does only cost $50) that makes the genre clear at thumbnail. I've seen this so many times when a client comes to me and I ask them what genre their book is and they don't know. And they think it doesn't matter, but it does, because people are far less likely to click through to read the blurb if they can't tell what kind of book it is, or if they think it's not the kind of book they're looking for. This is why an on-genre cover is so important. Because it tells a potential reader that this book is the kind of book they're looking for. So when cover designers say that a beginner author would do better with a pro cover, that's why. Because a lot of authors don't know the genre conventions, or don't understand why they're important, and so they end up with a cover that doesn't speak to that book's potential readers. And that is likely a big part of the reason that so many indies don't do very well. Because the cover is all about marketing your product, and you can't do that if you hamstring yourself with a cover that says the wrong thing.



      They're artists. In my opinion they occupy a higher rung than ecover designers. But indie authors can't 'demand' or set their own price for their books because they would sink in that endless sea of self-published works.

      I really can't begin to wrap my head around this attitude you have. You say indie authors are artists, but cover designers are not. Aren't we all creatives? Haven't we all, as creatives, heard someone say that we should give away our art because 'art should be free'? If you, as an author, would like to be able to charge what you feel your stories are worth, how can you not understand why cover designers would also want to charge what we feel our art is worth?


      So designers should come down from their artistic cloud and shake hands with reality.

      Why should we? There are plenty of authors who want professional covers and will pay professional prices to get them. Because they understand the value that we provide. Cover design is a skilled trade and what we offer is worth while. Some authors want covers that are works of art. Some just want a nice cover because they spent a lot of time on their book and they think it deserves a cover that looks nice, one they can look at with pride. Some want pro covers because they know that pro covers will help them get Bookbubs. And some want a professional cover because they know that readers will judge the book by the cover on it. They know that if the cover looks unprofessional, readers will assume that the content of the book was treated with the same lax standards, and skip on to the next book. There are plenty of authors out there who will hire us because they see our value, so why should we drop our prices to what amounts to less than minimum wage just because a few people think what we offer is worthless?
               

      Offline EleanorRigby

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #45 on: January 13, 2021, 12:19:08 pm »
      I was recently searching for stock images, just for a little inspiration. A couple of days later I was looking at one of the pre-made covers sites and saw the exact same picture I'd seen on the stock site, only it had been darkened a little and had some text pasted over the top. It was available to buy for $90 + dollars!

      Original works are indeed an art form and worth paying for but some of those pre-made ones are a massive ripoff if you ask me

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #46 on: January 13, 2021, 12:39:49 pm »
      This thread is so cringe.

      There's being smart and then there's being cheap.

      I don't know how they put up with us, honestly.

      Offline abgwriter

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #47 on: January 13, 2021, 01:13:57 pm »

      But there is another collection of facts that ecover designers don't want to hear about - and that is that 98% of indie authors, self-publishers do NOT make more than $1500 per year from their writing. They're artists. In my opinion they occupy a higher rung than ecover designers. But indie authors can't 'demand' or set their own price for their books because they would sink in that endless sea of self-published works.

      I wonder if you go to your landlord or local grocery store and tell them that, since you are an artist that makes less $1500 a year from their art, they should charge you only $50.00 for rent, or sell you food for the month for under $100 bucks. Or maybe when you are starting a hardware business, you go to the hardware store and tell them to give you the tools at a discount, because 50% of new business fail to make it to the 5 years mark. But still designers should know their place and charge less just because most authors won't make good money on their books?
      What makes authors different than any other business owner? Let's not call it art, because under that hat, we are all creatives, regardless of whether you think your art may or may not have more merit than ours (since you stated yourself that you consider author in a higher rung than designers). You are business owners, we are business owners. Just like authors would love to sell their books at $100 ea if the market allowed it, we set our prices at what we consider the market allows for our level of skill. The difference is that while the author might go on to make several times their starting price, the designer will only ever get that one time fee. And sure, writing may constitue arguably more work than designing if you look at it from a purely time-consuming standpoint, but when you pay a designer's price, you are not paying for the final cover alone. You are paying for their years of experience, their reputation in the market, and the expertise they have accumulated from working with dozens of other authors. You also pay for the security that they stand by every part of their product.
      We are providing a service, we stand by the quality of that service, and we also don't force anyone to purchase or do business with us. If you can find a reputable, skilled designer to create book covers for you at under $100.00 more power to you. But stating that all designers should "come down from their cloud" only because you don't consider their prices fair is very self-entitled.   
      « Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 01:17:53 pm by abgwriter »
       

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #48 on: January 13, 2021, 01:20:59 pm »
      I'd be curious how many 'do-overs' a designer does in order to satisfy lower cost covers vs. high cost covers.  I'm sure designers do both, I mean why turn away business if it take less time for a low cost cover if you have the time.  Plus, that's less hours - less money vs. more hours - more money. It probably evens out on the hourly revenue board anyway.

      But, I'm wondering, Do the higher end projects find more 'nit-pick' clients or generally the same in the sense of 'do it again', but 'this way' more often???

      I'd also think an e-book cover would cost less than a e-book and print. I would seem a little more complex to do artwork for both. One because you generally deal with a thumbnail and the other a wrap sheet that will be larger and even more visual if you hold it in your hand.  If you do a print cover, then the transition is fairly simple, a crop. but e-book to print cover, more time and more complex.

      Then there's the other half of the equation.  When I do my own covers, I know exactly what I want to see, and can read my own mind, and can do it in a few hours or so.  I'd expect the designer -- writer exchange of ideas may not happen that easily, and designers cannot read the minds of writers. 

      That old saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' - and I bet writers would need at least a good portion of those thousand words to describe a book concept and a cover idea to a designer, and may still not create that exact visual.  Maybe more, maybe less, in the mind's eye. 

      Offline abgwriter

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      Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
      « Reply #49 on: January 13, 2021, 01:37:16 pm »
      I'd be curious how many 'do-overs' a designer does in order to satisfy lower cost covers vs. high cost covers.  I'm sure designers do both, I mean why turn away business if it take less time for a low cost cover if you have the time.  Plus, that's less hours - less money vs. more hours - more money. It probably evens out on the hourly revenue board anyway.

      But, I'm wondering, Do the higher end projects find more 'nit-pick' clients or generally the same in the sense of 'do it again', but 'this way' more often???

      Designers in the higher-end of the spectrum like the $800 that you've been reading about, usually do offer more exclusive perks, like more revisions and sometimes even custom photography or boutique stock. But beyond that, an author who goes to a designer in the $800 mark is not really looking for higher customization (since a lot of cheaper designers offer the same customization levels), they are looking for #1, the particular level of skill or detail that designer has, and #2, the prestige. A lot of $800.00 designers have covers featured in best-selling books or books that get constatly recommended in Zon. Authors want that same look for their covers, so that readers will see their book art and be reminded of those best-seller books.

      I'd also think an e-book cover would cost less than a e-book and print. I would seem a little more complex to do artwork for both. One because you generally deal with a thumbnail and the other a wrap sheet that will be larger and even more visual if you hold it in your hand.  If you do a print cover, then the transition is fairly simple, a crop. but e-book to print cover, more time and more complex.
      E-book and print combined do usually cost a bit more, but the reason why pricing usually revolves around ebook alone, is because a lot of authors never bother with a print design. It's an add-on to a product, not the product itself. Also, although it might seem that way, making an e-book cover into a print requires a complete re-structuring of the design, since the format of both types of cover is not the same. We have to adapt the covers to the format of each different print service, and often fine-tune it several times until it fits their specs.

      Then there's the other half of the equation.  When I do my own covers, I know exactly what I want to see, and can read my own mind, and can do it in a few hours or so.  I'd expect the designer -- writer exchange of ideas may not happen that easily, and designers cannot read the minds of writers. 

      That old saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' - and I bet writers would need at least a good portion of those thousand words to describe a book concept and a cover idea to a designer, and may still not create that exact visual.  Maybe more, maybe less, in the mind's eye. 
      We go back to that $800.00 mark. The authors who go the $800.00 designers trust the designer completely to come up with something that is well-branded, genre-appropriate and will fit their initial vision. They usually don't concern themselves with the little details because the designer's PROVEN track-record puts them at ease that the final product will be great.
      And even when the author has a very hands-on approach, most designers offer free style consultations regardless of their price. And yes, sometimes an author and a designer might not be a good fit, but that's why the market needs to remain varied and free, so that either can walk away and there are still plenty of options available for all tastes.
       

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #50 on: January 13, 2021, 02:09:25 pm »
        I'd be curious how many 'do-overs' a designer does in order to satisfy lower cost covers vs. high cost covers.  I'm sure designers do both, I mean why turn away business if it take less time for a low cost cover if you have the time.  Plus, that's less hours - less money vs. more hours - more money. It probably evens out on the hourly revenue board anyway.

        But, I'm wondering, Do the higher end projects find more 'nit-pick' clients or generally the same in the sense of 'do it again', but 'this way' more often???

        I'd also think an e-book cover would cost less than a e-book and print. I would seem a little more complex to do artwork for both. One because you generally deal with a thumbnail and the other a wrap sheet that will be larger and even more visual if you hold it in your hand.  If you do a print cover, then the transition is fairly simple, a crop. but e-book to print cover, more time and more complex.

        Then there's the other half of the equation.  When I do my own covers, I know exactly what I want to see, and can read my own mind, and can do it in a few hours or so.  I'd expect the designer -- writer exchange of ideas may not happen that easily, and designers cannot read the minds of writers. 

        That old saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' - and I bet writers would need at least a good portion of those thousand words to describe a book concept and a cover idea to a designer, and may still not create that exact visual.  Maybe more, maybe less, in the mind's eye.

        When you say 'do-overs', do you mean drafts of a cover? Or do you mean rebranding a series because the first covers didn't help to sell the book?

        The funny thing is, the clients who spend more on their covers actually tend to be less picky. I assume that it's because their willingness to pay more indicates their willingness to see us as professionals who know what we're doing, and so they tend to trust us more. The pickiest clients I've ever had were the ones who came to me looking for bargains and discounts.

        Sometimes that writer/designer exchange of ideas can be tricky. I find it's gotten easier as I've gotten more experience, because I've learned the right questions to ask to get the information that I need. Also, a lot of my current clients have come to me because they've seen my work on books on the Top 100 lists in certain genres and asked the author who their cover designer is. So they came to me because they liked the look of my work specifically, and wanted something similar for a similar genre. That tends to make things a lot easier.
                 

        Offline Usedtoposthere

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #51 on: January 13, 2021, 02:47:06 pm »
        Yep to the designers who've chimed in here. You're paying for a cover artist's knowledge of genre and what will appeal to a buyer, as well as their graphics skill. That's why some designers can charge more--because their work sells books. Simple as that.

        Offline Crystal_

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #52 on: January 13, 2021, 03:59:28 pm »
        I'd be curious how many 'do-overs' a designer does in order to satisfy lower cost covers vs. high cost covers.  I'm sure designers do both, I mean why turn away business if it take less time for a low cost cover if you have the time.  Plus, that's less hours - less money vs. more hours - more money. It probably evens out on the hourly revenue board anyway.

        But, I'm wondering, Do the higher end projects find more 'nit-pick' clients or generally the same in the sense of 'do it again', but 'this way' more often???

        I have not paid $800 for any covers, but I mostly work with designers with above average prices for my genre.

        I usually go to a designer because I like their style. So I want something with their style. But I am many books into my career. I already have a visual brand and when commission new covers, I need that same but different for both the genre/niche and my brand.

        It's a tall order.

        I prefer to discuss concepts before we go into design. I don't want to describe the cover and have the designer execute the PhotoShop but I don't want to have no idea what they'll craft either.

        I like to talk branding and market, so we're on the same page before we commit to a design. I want to bring my specific knowledge of my brand and the market to the designer's broader knowledge. (Designers vary in how well they know the market and how concerned they are with the market. And in how much they want to innovate or take risks. Try to get a feel for this by looking at their portfolio or talking to them about the design).

        IME, most designers aren't big talkers. They speak in images. Authors speak in words. If we learn to bridge the gap, we'll all have perfect covers. Until then...

        Usually, if I communicate what I want, I get a mockup that is nearly finished. I might need small tweaks (for some reason, designers struggle with my author name size/placement more often than not, even when I tell them I'm religious about it), but it's usually pretty fast.

        Sometimes, later into a series, it takes more effort to make the cover work, because we've used all the easy ideas. Same but different gets harder the more same you have.

        If I'm asking for tons of changes, it's usually because the designer isn't really doing what I've asked. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's them. Maybe it's communication. In any case, the mockup doesn't meet my specs, and the changes don't address the problem. Either they fix the problem and create a new one or they make a small tweak instead of a big change.

        I find this happens more often with cheaper designers. But it also happens more often with difficult books (mix of tones, long titles, I've already done the "obvious" covers for the book, the angle for the book isn't as clear, etc.).

        Then, there are times where I hire a designer to explore concepts, because I know I don't know what I want. In that case, I expect to make a lot of changes and go through a lot of drafts, and I let the designer know.

        Rebranding a cover is a normal part of the process. Even if the original cover was great and 100% on market, it will age. Authors redo covers to keep up with trends and to bring in a different audience.

        I might switch out a really great cover because too many people have seen it. Or because I appealed to all the fans of couples and now I need to grab the fans of shirtless dudes (objects, girls, shirt wearing dudes, etc.). I may have to do this soon and I really don't want to say goodbye to the current covers. I love them! But this is a business and I have to do what makes money.

        Offline Bite the Dusty

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #53 on: January 13, 2021, 05:47:02 pm »
        I might switch out a really great cover because too many people have seen it. Or because I appealed to all the fans of couples and now I need to grab the fans of shirtless dudes (objects, girls, shirt wearing dudes, etc.). I may have to do this soon and I really don't want to say goodbye to the current covers. I love them! But this is a business and I have to do what makes money.

        Simple, logical, and yet, I don't think I would've thought to do this for these reasons.

        Offline ShayneRutherford

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #54 on: January 13, 2021, 06:11:40 pm »
        Simple, logical, and yet, I don't think I would've thought to do this for these reasons.

        It's really smart, because different visuals will appeal to different people. If you have Netflix you can see it in practice - they switch out the little poster graphics quite a bit, because they want to attract the eyes of viewers that the old version didn't get.
                 

        Offline Crystal_

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #55 on: January 13, 2021, 08:09:35 pm »
        It's really smart, because different visuals will appeal to different people. If you have Netflix you can see it in practice - they switch out the little poster graphics quite a bit, because they want to attract the eyes of viewers that the old version didn't get.

        They're very fast with it too. The second The Queen's Gambit was trending, they put the star on every relevant image.

        I wish I had Netflix data. Sigh, if only...

        One thing I recommend is not telling your current readers about the rebrand and not asking their opinions. They will generally not like changes from the cover they bought. They're emotionally attached to that cover. It's the one they loved! But if the buy the paperback, they can have it forever. If they don't, well, carpe diem next time.

        Offline Bite the Dusty

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #56 on: January 13, 2021, 08:43:51 pm »
        It's really smart, because different visuals will appeal to different people. If you have Netflix you can see it in practice - they switch out the little poster graphics quite a bit, because they want to attract the eyes of viewers that the old version didn't get.

        Totally, and it works, I just never thought about it for us.

        One thing I recommend is not telling your current readers about the rebrand and not asking their opinions. They will generally not like changes from the cover they bought. They're emotionally attached to that cover. It's the one they loved! But if the buy the paperback, they can have it forever. If they don't, well, carpe diem next time.

        I'm that person sort of. I'd never complain to an author, but I inwardly curse every time I'm at the grocery store and something has new branding and it takes forever to find it when it's right in front of me lol.

        Offline Becca Mills

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #57 on: January 13, 2021, 09:18:00 pm »
        Thanks for keeping this thread on track today, everyone. Let's keep it going. I did quite a bit of editing and deleting yesterday, removing material that did not follow the KB Way. Carry on.

        Welcome! :)
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        Offline toddhicks209

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #58 on: January 14, 2021, 01:48:29 am »
        Unless you think it's best to have a custom-made cover for your book I recommend using Pixabay where you can find many quality images to choose from for your book at no cost and with the privilege of using them for commercial purposes.

        Todd Hicks

        Offline Patty Jansen

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #59 on: January 14, 2021, 02:53:35 am »
        Unless you think it's best to have a custom-made cover for your book I recommend using Pixabay where you can find many quality images to choose from for your book at no cost and with the privilege of using them for commercial purposes.

        With the privilege of being sued for improper use of images. That site is RIFE with images that you really can't use for commercial projects, such as ebooks.

        Images with people need a model release.
        Images with famous modern buildings need permission/payment to the owner.
        I'm not even talking about images that have no business being on the site because they belong to someone else.
        Photos of artworks without permission from the artist.
        Photos with copyrighted material.
        Plain stolen images.

        Free sites like Pixabay are probably OK for photos to use on a blog or non-commercial projects. Or for textures. But only if there are no people, no modern buildings and no artworks in the picture and you can verify that the person who posted the pictures took them.

        Offline ShayneRutherford

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #60 on: January 14, 2021, 09:14:38 am »
        With the privilege of being sued for improper use of images. That site is RIFE with images that you really can't use for commercial projects, such as ebooks.

        Images with people need a model release.
        Images with famous modern buildings need permission/payment to the owner.
        I'm not even talking about images that have no business being on the site because they belong to someone else.
        Photos of artworks without permission from the artist.
        Photos with copyrighted material.
        Plain stolen images.


        Yep. All of this. I've seen quite a few Star Wars battle cruisers and Star Trek Enterprises over there. Plus a whole bunch of other stuff that was probably trademarked but I didn't recognize it.

        Proper stock sites like Shutterstock and Depositphotos don't cost that much. And they indemnify you up to a certain amount (I think it's $10k?) if a picture slips through that shouldn't have. Sites like Pixabay and Unsplash offer no indemnification at all, so if you use a pic that you shouldn't, you'll be left to cover any costs yourself.
                 

        Offline Bill Hunter

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        Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
        « Reply #61 on: January 14, 2021, 01:52:09 pm »
        I'm a new author. I plan on using inexpensive premade covers until I get more money to spend on covers. Then I will rebrand them with better covers. As far as making other advertising with the covers I see what other people do with ad before I go down that route.

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