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How to Get a Custom Book Cover for $5 Using Fiverr by JP Medved

| Posted in Guest Posts, Tips and Tricks |

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I’ve got a few thousand things on the plate for February (as usual), so I was glad to accept a guest post from a fellow steampunk author for this week. J.P. Medved is going to talk to you about how he got some nice covers made very inexpensively, by using talent found on Fiverr. I’ve paid for a couple of book-promotion gigs on Fiverr (only one was even worth the $5), but I wouldn’t have thought to look for cover artists there. I can see where it would make a lot of sense for an author without much money to spend and especially for an author publishing serials or short stories that aren’t likely to earn back the cost of more expensive artwork.

Anyway, enough from me. I’ll pass you off to J.P., so he can explain how he found good designers and how the process went.

How To Get an Awesome, Custom Book Cover for $5

covers banner cropped

First off I want to thank Lindsay for hosting me here.  Her blog is one of the main resources that inspired me to get into self publishing.

For this post I wanted to walk through my strategy for getting several, high quality covers made for $5 each.  I’ve done it for all of the books I have for sale on Amazon, and I’ve gotten numerous compliments on the covers from readers and fellow authors alike.  I’ll include images throughout the post so you can judge their quality for yourself.  This method is ideal for authors putting out a high volume of shorts or novellas, who don’t have the artistic ability to design their own covers.

To get the covers I used Fiverr.

Fiverr is a website where you can hire people to do services for $5.  There’s a whole section of the website for designers offering to do eBook and print book covers.  It’s a great way to get quality-looking book covers for cheap (given that most outside designers charge $100 and up for a single custom cover).

However, there’s a lot of dross on Fiverr, and if you’re not careful you could end up paying for an amateurish-looking product, or one that doesn’t fit your book at all.  To avoid that problem I follow three careful steps.

Step 1

Browse the book cover section of Fiverr for artists and click into the job postings (‘gigs’ in Fiverr-speak) of several of them that look appealing to you.  Look at the samples of their work, and their reviews.  Ideally you want artists with at least 20 reviews, and a 4.5-5 star average, with art you like and think fits your book.

fiverr ebook page

You’ll find that most artists will include “extras” with their gigs.  Things like “provide a fully editable PSD file of your cover” for an extra $10 or “purchase a stock photo” for an extra $5 etc.  I highly recommend springing for the stock photo option where possible, since this greatly enlarges the range of professional images you can get for your cover.

Select at least three of the top designers you like (remember, you’re saving a lot of money with this option, so it pays to compare) and order their gigs.

Step 2

You’ll get automatic messages from most artists asking for what you want on the cover.  Here’s an example I got from one:

Please provide the title, subtitle (optional) and author name.

Upload your stock image here if you’re supplying one, if not please give me an idea of what you’d like on the cover. Please remember if you’re not supplying a stock image I will do my best to find a suitable free one.

If you have any examples of covers you like you’re welcome to post links!

All covers are 1000px longest side unless ordered with a gig extra.

You should send the same response to all three (or more) designers so you can really compare apples to apples when you get their work back.

Here’s an example response I sent to three different artists:

This cover is for a steampunk short story. Here’s the details and an uploaded image as a guide:

Colors I would like to be earthy/subdued (dark reds, khakis, muted browns).

Text/headings should read:

Main title: To Rescue General Gordon

Subhead: A Clockwork Imperium Short Story

Author: J.P. Medved

Style: Old timey, Victorian, steampunk

Graphics/images on the cover: Ideally an airship/zepplin with the British flag on it

Examples of covers I like: I’ve attached a picture of essentially how I’d like the cover to be laid out, with the airship image going into the top circle.

Other details: The story is about British soldiers in 1895 stealing an airship to rescue a famous General in the Sudanese desert, so anything evoking the desert, the time period, or airships works well. Also, I’d like to use this style for future stories, so an easy way to change the main background color in the PSD/AI file would be a plus.

Fiverr allows you to upload files in messages to artists, and I’ve taken advantage of that ability multiple times to showcase examples of covers I like, sample layouts, or design elements I’d like to include.

In this case, I’d found an old Canadian Pacific Railway menu from 1910 that was laid out in a fashion I though perfectly illustrated the steampunk/Victorian vibe I wanted to capture, so I uploaded that to give the artists a rough idea of design.

canadian pacific menu

With this message and direction, I got several initial options back from artists.

rescue

trgg

Again, I only paid $10 for those two covers (I did opt for the PSD file for both, which added another $10, but the covers themselves were only $5 each).

Step 3

Fiverr cover artists typically allow one free revision, and I recommend using it wisely.  Show the cover drafts to friends, family, or others you trust with an eye for design to get their feedback.  Don’t take it personally if they actually provide it and suggest changes!  Almost always they have the necessary distance to recognize issues with the designs that you, as the author whose baby the artist is bringing to life, may not.

In this case since I vastly preferred one artist over the others, so I only asked her for revisions.  Here’s the email I sent with revisions:

Love it! Wondering if you could use this airship picture instead (perhaps cropped to get rid of the buildings): http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-105576374/stock-photo-the-oil-painting-with-the-airship-flying-above-the-old-style-fantasy-buildings-my-artwork-oil-on.html

Also wondering if you could use a slightly heavier, more Victorian font, this one looks a little too pirate-like. A couple examples I like are:

http://davidadriansmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/victorian_upload.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mh4BztHUB2s/T04-r1amNBI/AAAAAAAABFQ/VfrrlcwleFY/s1600/stbkcv008.jpg

And perhaps add some color to the top title-text to make it stand out in a thumbnail (a light/gradianted red like this? http://www.colourbox.com/preview/4727539-696209-vintage-background-antique-victorian-gold-ornament-baroque-red-frame-beautiful-old-paper-card-ornate-cover-page-label-floral-luxury-ornamental-pattern-template-for-design.jpg)

Thanks!

You can see the final cover here:

rescueedits1

Advanced tips

If you know you’re doing a series with branded covers, make sure to get the PSD of the cover image, so you can manipulate the image for future covers, or pass the file on to another designer to do so if your chosen designer disappears from the site or becomes too busy.

I did this with the cover above, and have been able to use the same template to create a series of branded covers myself for cheap:

Clockwork series covers

Switch up cover designers for different genres, as often an artist good at one type of genre will be only so-so with another.  Here are some covers I got across multiple genres, almost all using different cover artists:

Other covers

Hope this was helpful; any other tips you have for getting great covers on the cheap?

~

J.P. Medved has just released the third novella in his steampunk, Clockwork Imperium series, called Airfleets Over Ostend.  The first novella in the series, and the one bearing the example cover described in this blog, To Rescue General Gordon, is now free at Amazon, so pick it up for a fun, quick read!

Sign up for his newsletter at www.JPMedved.com to learn about new steampunk stories in the works, and to get a free short story as well.

Subscribe to the blog: EMAIL | RSS.


Comments (29)

That was great. That is pretty darn good work for 5 bucks!

Thanks! It takes a little digging, but you can find some really quality stuff on Fiverr.

Hi JP,

That was great information. I just recently heard about Fiverr and was skeptical, but your tips about how to go about using it was helpful. I love your covers.

Best wishes,

Susanne

Thank you! I also was wary of the quality until I did some tests and found some really great designers there.

As a designer of many indie book covers myself, I’m mildly horrified; but glad for everyone getting better bookcovers. $5, it’s practically charity!

Haha, well, there are certainly limitations to Fiverr! Most designers work strictly with stock photos and any kind of epic, original artwork for your story is right out, but it is a great avenue for shorts and if you have an idea of what you want that’s not too complicated.

I think it sounds kind of fun, I may try it out. I’m always on the side of anything that rids the indie publishing world of the pre-created templates from createspace! Thanks for the article.

I think the popular designers on there can make some decent side money, though I imagine a lot do it for visibility and to build a portfolio. And amen to fewer pre-created cover templates!

Adore the steampunk covers. Gorgeous!

Thank you!

Hey,

I’ve had some luck with Fiverr and other outsourcing sites. If you really want quality, though, you have to pay for it.

I remember hiring 3 different people for a graphic design project, and I think each agreed to <$10 apiece. In the end, all 3 results were just kind of … meh.

I finally wound up paying a single designer significantly more than $10 for something I wound up being satisfied with.

You get what you pay for!

Thanks,
Mickie Kennedy
http://www.ereleases.com/hello.html?a=76

Mickie,

Yes, I definitely think there’s a tradeoff between time and money here. It’s cheaper, but you need to invest more time in finding and vetting the quality designers, otherwise, as I mentioned, you can end up with a lot of dross.

I was very impressed, JP, with the quality of the covers and have to say I really like them! I’ll have to consider this as an option in case I need a cover and my artist can’t deliver.

Thanks CW! Definitely a good, inexpensive background option.

I just discovered the joys of Fiverr last week. I got a great cover there for a short story. As you say, there are limitations, and I would always get a custom cover for a novel, but for a short story it’s perfect.

Wow, those are great covers you got from your Fiverr cover artist. I admit I’d never even considered using Fiverr for more than maybe a banner ad or something like that. I’ve used Fiverr for book promotion, and was aware they did covers, but you got some very nice results. Thanks for sharing your experience!

One quick question, however, given that your books are a series: do you have the fiverr artist do all the covers in the series at once? I just worry that once i have a great cover, the artist is going to drop off the face of the earth and I’ll never be able to get a second one in the series if I need it.
(I do have a couple of series and my go-to cover artist has taken “vacations” from fiverr that have given me heart attacks on more than one occasion…)

Jennifer,

I was worried that might happen too, so for anything I know will be in a series, I pay extra to get the .PSD fie from the artist as well, that way I can either manipulate it myself in photoshop, or upload it to another designer if the first one gets too busy or disappears.

I have to agree on the “mildly horrified” comment earlier. I’m not suggesting that artists are being taken advantage of, as they are choosing to provide work-for-hire there, but I would be concerned.

As an artist, we all know they deserve to be paid for their work (I mean, don’t we?). This is one of the reasons I’m really hesitant to use a service like 99designs, because only one gets paid, if at all.

I guess at least with Fiverr the artists are getting paid for their work.

Do you mind sharing the link to the specific fiverr artist you used?

Hi Dotti,

I’ll email you the name if you reach out to me via the website linked in my name!

Great post! I use a designer I found on Fiverr for my book covers, because I wanted to put out a bunch of short stories, and at $50 a pop (or more), that would have been way too expensive. He’s really great, and asks lots of good questions up front to make sure you’re going to get exactly what you want, so I’ve used him again and again. Definitely worth the money, especially if you can get the Photoshop files for series titles.

Hey Laura, mind sharing the name? I’ve been looking through designers but haven’t found one that truly stuck out yet.

Great writeup! I found Fiverr a long time ago but have not given it much thought since I’ve heard such bad things about it. However, after reading your post I have decided to give it a try. I did my own cover for a short story and it took me hours to get it just right, time I just don’t have. Cover Design is actually holding me back from publishing more.

Looking through some of the designers I honestly believe that there is some amazing talent on that website and if you build a relationship with one I bet you can find a cover designer to do all your work. Some of the more popular ones offer extras that will make your cover cost a lot more than $5, but I bet would be worth it!

I’m going to use it for a novella I’m publishing soon and then after that I want to look for a designer to create something similar to what you have for a series I’m working on that will be at least 5 books and having the ability to just color swap the cover and change an image would be great!

Thanks again!

Jeremy,

No worries, good luck, and excited to see what you get created!

Thanks so much for walking us through your experience using Fiverr.

Very few authors can lay out large amounts of cash for their first or second self-publishing efforts so having a viable way to cut costs for design will help free up funds for editing, etc.

Looking forward to trying Fiverr myself soon!

May I have a phone number to ask a few questions of one person about book cover images?

Hi, I just saw your article here. I am an artist myself and I am wondering how the copyright is regulated? You received the psd file for $10? Did you purchase the stock image used for the cover at Fiverr or the artist? Thanks!

Thank you, so much for this! Right now my book is only on Wattpad a free book site, so I’d like to keep this affordable. If the book takes off I’m seriously thinking about Kindle.

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