Guest post by Joshua Jadon
When you write your book, you take the time to pour your heart and soul into it. You want everyone to see it and read it and love it just as much as you do. But that means putting some effort into other parts of the book as well. It’s not just about writing. It’s about editing and proofreading, selling it in the blurb and definitely about making the cover look appealing for potential readers. Having said that, there are so many cover creation options out there, many authors just don’t know what they should do. Some end up opting for something premade just because it’s easier.
Benefits of Premade
There are plenty of benefits to having a premade cover for your book. The most obvious one is price, because they’re generally made with form designs and more basic images. You’ll also save on the design process, which means having a little more money to spend on things like marketing or getting additional copies of the book printed.
Another benefit is speed. Rather than going through an extensive back-and-forth process with a designer to craft a custom design, a premade cover can be completely finished in a relatively short amount of time. Once again, the time savings can be devoted to other marketing and promotional activities.
Benefits of Custom Covers
When it comes to custom covers, the biggest benefit is that you’ll be working with a professional designer to develop a tailor-made cover that will help you stand out in the mosh pit of contenders fighting for readers’ attention. The design process will begin with the designer working to understand as much as possible about your book’s story, characters, themes, motivations and underlying messages. Some designers will take the time to actually read the entire book themselves, sketching out ideas and sharing thoughts. You’ll then be presented with initial design concepts followed by back and forth refinements between you and the designer. If the process goes as it should, you’ll end up with a beautifully designed cover that represents the essence of your book and most importantly will capture the attention of your target readers. (We cover some of the specifics in Top 5 questions to ask when designing your book cover).
Drawbacks of Premades
The drawbacks of a premade cover are basically the inverse of benefits with a custom cover. It may not represent your book quite as well, and may not have unique design flair to help it stand out in the sea of other covers. Sure the image on the front is related, but does it really fit? Is the dragon on the cover the dragon that’s on the page? Is the house really representative of the one your characters live in? It’s just not quite the same—and that means it may look okay, but it’s not really going to make you think of what your book is saying.
You also may get less attention from a generic cover because it may be a little easier to ignore. Readers are looking for something interesting and exciting that grabs their attention, and a book that might have the same cover—or at least the same images—as several others often won’t get that kind of attention. A unique style or look can influence readers’ selection process. If your cover doesn’t reflect that … well, it may not get noticed.
Drawbacks of Custom Covers
Once again, these factors will be the opposite of the benefits in the premade cover world, such as the cost difference. Getting a custom cover will likely cost significantly more because of the amount of time and energy needed to create it. You’re paying for a highly customized product as well as the value in your cover being completely exclusive in the marketplace.
Time can often be another drawback. The process of designing a high-end cover design can often take weeks or even months which can delay the publication of your book. In addition, if for some reason the initial design is completely off, it may require extra time to provide extended feedback to the cover designer.
In the end, there are benefits and drawbacks to both options that you’ll definitely want to consider. You obviously want a cover that you can be proud of and represents your book. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding which option is best for you. No one can really make the decision for you. A premade cover may work perfectly well for your book and your budget. Or perhaps you feel that a custom design will really grease the wheels for your book sales. Just make sure you’re thinking it through and doing what’s best for your book.
Joshua is a book cover designer for New York Times and internationally best-selling authors of all genres. In 2013 after attending Central Michigan University for 2 months he decided to drop out and pursue book cover design full-time. Joshua currently operates out of Grand Rapids, Michigan and loves to spend his time chipping away at the computer, traveling, writing, being with family, listening to music, and learning new things.