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How to Commission a Book Cover

How to Create a Great Book Cover

– Posted in: Self Publishing

I am going to start with a bit of Philosophical Behavioural Finance.


There some basic rules around money. Now your brother’s second cousin knows a girl who went to college with the daughter of a man whose best friend – Spent nothing, planned nothing, knew nothing, yet still achieved something. For us normal beings, me in particular, these rules apply:

  • Spend a lot earn a little – This is what too many of us do. Without knowledge, we are probably unlikely to spend wisely. With wisdom, it is vaguely possible to-
  • Spend a lot earn a lot – With good strategy sound knowledge this is a possibility.
  • Spend a little earn a little – This describes me exactly. I am happy to garnish an occasional acknowledgment as an author rather than money, I don’t want to spend a heap either.

This may seem like a strange way to start a discussion on book cover design but I think it is the crux of a good decision. If you have ticked all the boxes in the previous blog, Book Cover you may just have enough knowledge to commence a successful commissioning.

I ponced about for a long time trying to decide how my ambitions, knowledge and the financial wisdom discussed above, would interact to a successful outcome. I found information like this below helpful.

Book Cover Design

Case Study 1 – Outcome of insufficient knowledge.

In my case, I sadly didn’t have any knowledge that came later. So this is what happened. I like Fiverr I have had some good outcomes from some skilled people in the past.

Pea Pod 1st design kerry



Even knowing I would be disappointed I ordered a $5 cover. The designer merely wanted an idea of what I wanted so I sent him this:




What you get for $5

This is what I got back. The only mistake I made in the process was expecting anything more than the adequate cover I received.

Back to my financial wisdom –Spend a little get a little.

So – back to square one. I spent some time spinning in circles.

Case Study 2 – Outcome of scant knowledge.

zakarianada work


I looked at The Creative Penn (link above) for assistance and many other web sites. All of the options I discovered there were too expensive… well that isn’t really true – I concluded that they offered me insufficient control for the price. Weeks wasted I returned to Fiverr and search for EXPENSIVE cover design. I found this:




I thought it was impressive so with my 10 steps fully completed (he would not proceed without it)* and an improved graphics of my own making using a book cover design template. I bought the gig.

*I don’t think he relied on it, it was an attempt to have the Author think about what he wanted.



Pea Pod 1st cover ~ Hardcover_Book_MockUpThis is what was returned:  I was not at all happy. The gig was $100Aus and I figured I’d been templated. My limited knowledge of Fiverr also caused a problem. I was waiting for an email advising completion when I logged in to complain I found the work had been completed days earlier and the Artist had been paid as I had requested no alterations.


Deciding that I needed to be more in control of the process I found a Book Cover Creative Brief by Erica Liodice – Link here.



I didn’t bother spinning in circles I gave the artist a major serve, which he returned with top spin. To cut a long story short we decided a negotiated outcome was better than playing tennis. He agreed to reopen the GIG (he was not obliged to do so) and with a little creative discourse, he offered this cover.

Those of you who have played on this website know that this cover is the one that I chose. I couldn’t have been happier.


Case Study 3 – Outcome of enough knowledge.

Having developed a sound working relationship with Zach Link Here  I would thoroughly recommend him. He didn’t understand how much he helped. He prepared covers for Kindle, Create Space, Smashwords and IngramSpark (more in another blog) without these submitting the book on these sites would have been all but impossible.

So as we had developed a great working relationship and I liked the template for Pea Pod Murder I decided to design the cover of book two Angle Murders, which a few month away from completion.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00025]Enough knowledge gave me the confidence to exploit Zach’s obvious talent. We started with;

We discussed developing a theme for the series (I have three books outlined) I suggested the continuation of the black theme.



And offered this.

We shared ideas until ultimately the finished product (Below)

Why did I have enough Knowledge to gain a painless successful outcome, these were the elements.

angel kindle_45x65 (1)


How to gain a painless outcome

  • Understand your requirements
  • Create a design brief, even if it isn’t shared with the designer it will help you cement your thoughts.
  • Understand the process and protocols of the service you are using.
  • Clarify what formats you require the cover images in Create Space and Ingram Spark will require a full cover Kindle just a front image. The format for each service is different make sure your designer understands what is required.
  • You should be in a position now where you know exactly what you want, now you can talk about design.
  • Mash up an outline that you like but don’t emasculate the designer. The Pea Pod gun was all Zach’s idea if I had demanded my concept be realized I would have missed it .
  • Have the confidence to be demanding, but back to the opening comment don’t expect to spend a little and get a lot. Don’t be afraid to buy extra services to get exactly what you want.


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