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A closer look at book cover design IV: How much does it cost?

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When hiring a designer to craft the perfect book cover, the million-dollar question usually is: How much is it going to cost me?

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It is a reasonable question—one that does not usually get a solid answer. That is because graphic design is skill that can take anywhere from one hour to weeks or even months to complete depending on the assignment, the deadline, and most importantly, what the author and/or publisher wants. In most cases, hiring a professional to design a book cover can be costly but, it does not necessarily have to be.

Visual Design expert Anita B. Carroll of Race-point.com has over 17 years of graphic design experience. Here, she shares helpful secrets for authors and self-publishers to negotiating an affordable rate with their selected graphic artist.
The best advice I can offer someone looking to hire a designer, when on a tight budget—once you find one that has the design style you are looking for, is to send them an email and see what they can offer. Let them know your budget. Don’t be shy. You never know. For Race-point, I offer both front and back cover designs including the spine, factoring in the author’s specific online publisher provider to ensure I stay within their guidelines.

When I am in between projects where I am waiting on the author to provide their specs, I am able to afford to offer my services at a more affordable rate as long as you are willing to work with me over a longer time span.
For Race-point, my fee is individually based for each assignment, and I charge by project, not by the hour. Generally, I prefer not to advertise my fees since it really depends on the client and what their individual needs are. However, my clients have paid for design covers as low as $110 - $1,000 and up. On average, the projects I usually work on range from $200-$750.

Although, the real question ought to be: Can you afford not to hire a designer? As mentioned in Part I, when considering the long-term benefits, there is much to gain by hiring a designer.

I wrote an article for Kobo which talks about this very topic; how the cover design directly affects your book sales, titled: Let’s talk numbers—the importance of book cover design. In this article an author asked me to re-design his book cover that he had originally designed himself. Based off this project, I compare the data from his book sales before the re-design and after. The findings are quite interesting.

When designing a book cover, one should never assume that they cannot afford to hire a visual design expert. Especially when there are so many independent graphic artists who can afford to adjust their rates. The key is to find the right one who offers the design skills that you are looking for.

Anita B. Carroll is a visual design consultant and owner of Race-Point.com, supporting self-published authors and publishing houses with all their business brand identity design needs, and offers a fresh take on book cover design. Anita has over 17 years of experience within the visual design field, starting out managing creative initiatives for Fortune 500 Businesses in Silicon Valley, California. She is specialized in Heuristic Evaluation, Web User Interface Design with focus on online usability testing, a valuable skill when designing book covers for the rapidly growing digital market. Anita is also an avid reader. Discovering book cover design has provided the opportunity to combine her works in photography and graphic design skills.

To connect with Anita and see more of her work, visit her portfolio website.

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