Covers: Buy It vs. DIY

Hey again everybody!

Sorry for the lack of updates–lots going on before I get to go into my well-deserved Spring Break next week!  Assignments, trying to get enough sleep, classes… You know, the usual.  Plus, I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten much done or been terribly motivated, but I guess that happens every once in awhile. 🙂  I haven’t written anything since Valentine’s, but I have HIGH HOPES to get to at least 50k words by the time I go back to school, so I’ll let you all know how that goes.  In the mean time, you get this!

The Cover Conundrum

I love that word, don’t you?  Conundrum.  It just isn’t thrown around as much as it should be.  And okay, maybe it’s not a conundrum just yet–more of a nagging consideration.

What do I do about a cover for my book?

Everyone knows, or should know, that the cover is extremely important when it comes to books.  “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may be all well and good, but the fact is that before you ever decide to read a book, you have to pick it out–and that will happen, more likely than not, because the cover stands out.  I know that the cover is what I look at when I’m browsing in a bookstore, the library, or in the Kindle store looking for a new read.  Sometimes the book doesn’t live up to the cover, which is always disappointing, but hey–I picked it out and started reading it.

Which is half the battle, right?  If your cover looks like something you threw together in five minutes on Paint, it doesn’t matter if it’s the new Great American Novel, the chances of anyone reading it–unless you’re paying them or it’s their job–are pretty dang low.

For instance, I am far less likely to (see: never going to) read this first book, with a quite frankly creepy, terrifying, and all-around unappealing, cover, than I am to read the second, with a gorgeous and intriguing cover. (In fact, I already bought the second to read!)

(So creepy.)

On a related note, did you actually know that “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen went through several different covers before finding the one that turned it into the phenomenon it was?  It’s true!  Sure it was a great book, but it wasn’t until they found the right cover, the one that made people reach for it, that everyone finally realized it.  Just proof of how important your presentation really is.

The Point:

So!  Now that I’ve over-iterated my conundrum, let me actually talk about it–I’m not sure what to do about my own cover.  The fact is I’m a terribly poor college student with no disposable income and no job.  That will change at least a little bit when I get home in the spring, but not a whole lot.  But I want to give my book the best kind of fighting chance it should get.  So…

Do I buy a cover from an expert?  Or do I try to blunder along on my own?

I already have a mock-up idea of what I would like, and have taken some steps to making a cover of my own, with the help of a few graphics artists I know.  That’s free, with the exception of paying a small fee to the owner of the stock photos.  (Negligible.)  But none of us is a professional, and in the end I feel like it would still look like someone without formal training threw some images together and used the ‘Blur’ tool.  (Don’t judge.)

On the other hand, I could pay from $300 to $500 to someone, but get a really nice cover.  (Although it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows–apparently if you sell more than a certain number (250,000) of copies, you have to pay for the Shutterstock picture royalties ($100 per image.))

That’s a decent chunk of change for someone like me, especially since I will already have to pay to have someone format the book, but it’s FAR less than some people I know have spent on getting their own books published.  (Amounts of money the sum of which I have never laid eyes on.)


I have my eye on Awesome Book Covers by Damonza.  The sample covers section has some truly beautiful works, and there’s even pre-designed covers you can buy that are much cheaper (and include minor edits.)  While the cost makes me wince, there’s no denying that a cover can make or break you.

So what do you think?

Have you made your own cover or commissioned one?  Which would you do, if it came down to it?  Are there other cover designers out there that you like better, or are cheaper to hire?  I could use any and all advice!




9 thoughts on “Covers: Buy It vs. DIY

  1. iUniverse “made” my cover, although the concept came from a graphic designer friend of mine and, as you read me ranting about on my blog, I ended up making the silhouettes myself. So clearly I have no actual experience in cover design theory. HOWEVER, I do believe that a good cover is key to marketing success, so whatever option you go with, make sure the final product looks good!!! If you can do it yourself and produce something great, then do it!!!

    • Ha ha, yes, but whether that will happen is the question. x) Perhaps I will finish making the cover that I’m working on, wait until a bit later, and then post it and see what the general consensus is. If it’s “Eh, could be better” I’ll just buy the stupid thing. xD Because yes, SO important! And yeah, for what you paid you deserved at least a cover you didn’t have to spoon-feed and hand-hold the iUniverse people into. >_> But I digress. By the by, did you happen to see my post where I posted people look-alikes for my characters, a shit pictures I drew of them and a random trailer I made? Just wondering. xD

  2. Pingback: More Awesome Fan Art | Michelle Proulx - The Blog

  3. Hi Celeste! I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m the guy who designed the Imminent Danger wiki. I saw your newest fan art on Michelle’s blog, and I was wondering if I could include the new pictures on the wiki. The last pieces of fan art you let the website use worked out great, and these new pictures would help give the website even more life and colour! Of course you would be credited as the artist and creator of the pictures.
    And regarding your cover, I would say just go it yourself. After all, who knows your book better than you do? Besides I’ve seen your fan art, and it’s clear you’re a talented artist. You’d probably do a great job of capturing the message and theme of your book in the cover.

    • Hello again! 🙂 Of course I remember! And yes, you’re more than welcome to use the new pieces on the wiki! I thought the first one looked quite nice on there, and hope that the new ones will continue to add some variety. ^^
      And, as regards my cover, thanks for the faith! I think I will see what I can come up with myself, for a lot of different reasons. I don’t know if it will be award-winning, but it PROBABLY won’t be terrible. xD (But I guess we will see!)

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