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What’s a realistic budget for a truly professional book cover design?

Current & Appropriate Rates

What’s a realistic budget for a truly professional book cover design?

Current & Appropriate Rates
This article is part of the Jobs Board Series, informational guides aimed at non-creatives seeking direction on how best to approach, communicate, and work with a professional book cover designer.

Blog post cover illustration by Lauren Hall

First up, read this article by Micaela Alcaino which outlines the important role that book covers play in book sales and explains why talented artists deserve to be paid for their craft. Next up, watch this video about how to be a solid client.

Now, if you’re reading this article, then you’re here for a reason. There are plenty of unfiltered design directories out there–the wild, wild, west. This is not that. This website was created with the purpose of cataloging the work of top-tier cover artists who are contributing designs to the industry at the highest levels. These people are busy and sought after. If you’re interested in hiring one of these talented folks, you should expect to pay them at a ballpark range that they’re currently receiving from other clients.

Not sure what that would be? The purpose of this article is to inform you of the current industry-standard rates so that you can figure out what you can afford and feel confident about what you’re spending.

If the numbers on the higher-end listed below are outside of your budget, no sweat. Stick to what you can afford.

But, if you are excited about the thought of working with the same designer who created your favorite Michael Lewis, Colleen Hoover, or Stephen King jacket, then you should be realistic about offering them rates worthy of their expertise and of the years they’ve spent honing their craft.

Sounds fair, right?

*All budgets are listed as ranges. Specific factors defining the scope of work will affect a designer’s final fee.

Large, Commercial, and “Big 5” Publishing Houses

$1,800 – $3,000+ USD

Medium-Sized Commercial Publishers

$1,200 – $2,000+ USD

American University Presses

$500 – $1,200+ USD

Small Presses

$500 – $1,000+ USD

Nonprofit presses and small poetry houses

$400 – $800+ USD

If you’re reading this while you’re in the middle of posting a creative brief on our Jobs Board, here’s some advice on how to enter your design budget:

  1. If you have a very specific budget to offer then stick to it. State your budget as a single number and do not offer a range.
  2. If your fee is negotiable, list the budget as a range. If a seasoned designer contacts you, settle for the higher amount. If you hire someone with less experience, you may settle for an amount within your lower range. Providing a range may attract more bids and help you arrive at a fair price that benefits both parties.

Good luck!

*This article was written with US design budgets in mind. Budgets in other countries may differ.

*This article relates to designed book covers. Jackets with custom illustrations have different budgets. More information about custom illustrated jackets is <COMING SOON>

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