I’m not a fan of contracts (or anything binding, or closing doors, or other A-personality stuff). I avoid extra, non-essential work if I can help it. And since I know I will always over deliver, contracts seem like overkill to me. But of course some clients will want them, and there’s no reason not to use one if either party requests it.
So here’s a sample template you can use or alter for your needs, it’s something I’ve used in the past. Just fill in the names and details. You may need to change the terms of payment.
I’m also going to paste the whole thing below for your reference.
Important Book Cover Design Legal stuff
As a quick summary: the client pays the designer. The designer is required to buy all the images and fonts necessary and get the right legal protections. The designer provides a finished book cover, usually as a .jpg and .pdf for print. The designer is not actually allowed to sell layered files (which is like giving away the fonts and images they bought, or transferring the license, which is complicated).
Some designers may agree to share the source files, or a flattened layers version at least, if the authors will also buy the font/images. But generally, they would have something in the contract that limits use: you can’t get a .psd file and then higher a cheaper designer to continue the series for you (you can technically, but it’s an ethical mishap you should try to avoid unless in extreme circumstances); but if they designer has something in the contract and you do this anyway, you’re breaking terms.
I’m pretty open about sharing design files with clients because I don’t mind authors taking control once the initial design is finished, or for making slight updates to text later without bothering me, but it depends on the designer.
You may also not have full commercial rights – you can use the art on a book cover, but if you also print merch like posters for sale, some designers may not be OK with that unless you sorted it out before hand. Ask for what you want; state your plans, and see whether your designer is accommodating for your needs. But don’t assume they will be.
BOOK COVER DESIGN CONTRACT
This contract is between ____________ of _________________ (“Artist”) and ______________ (“Author, Client”) for the purpose of designing and creating a book cover (eBook & Print) (“Work” or “Book”). The Client and Editor may be referred to herein individually as a “Party” or collectively as the “Parties”. This contract is entered into in good faith and upon signature by the Parties indicates acceptance of this contract and the terms described herein.
The Client agrees to pay the Artist all sums due, which may vary over the original Artist estimate depending on complexity, and any other disbursements (i.e. image bank art graphics). Fifty percent (50%) will be payable upon signing this Contract, with the balance of payment due within seven (7) business days of the Author approving the final Cover design. Payment will be made via PayPal. Final Cover templates will be released to the Client after receipt of final payment.
i. Declares he has obtained all proper rights or licenses for all images used in creation of the Work.
ii. Shall transfer his copyright of the Work to the Client upon final payment receipt.
iii. Retains the right to include the Work in his online portfolio or business promotion.
iv. Acknowledges he does not own or have right or title to the Book containing the Work, nor to receive any royalties on Book(s) sold, or derivative works containing the Work.
v. Agrees to treat all information about the Book’s content as Confidential and not cause or permit such Confidential Information to be disclosed to any third party, until the book is published online by the Author.
The Artist hereby represents and warrants:
i. He is the creator of the Work.
ii. The work does not infringe any copyright, privacy rights, or legal rights of a third party.
iii. The Work does not contain any unlawful material.
In the event of any dispute, claim, question, or disagreement arising from or relating to this agreement or the breach thereof, the parties hereto shall use their best efforts to settle the dispute, claim, question, or disagreement. To this effect, the Parties shall consult and negotiate with each other in good faith and, recognizing their mutual interests, attempt to reach a just and equitable solution satisfactory to both parties. If they do not reach such solution within a period of thirty (30) days, then, upon notice by either party to the other, all disputes, claims, questions, or differences shall be finally settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with the provisions of its Commercial Arbitration Rules.
The terms of this agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws and legal jurisdiction of the State of Delaware, USA.
The Artist and Client have executed this contract on the day and year below, to be effective immediately if the dates are the same, or on the date of the later signature if the dates are not the same.
Client printed name: _____________________
Artist printed name: _____________________
The rest of this page is left blank.
Making your own book covers
More Book Cover Design Resources for Authors
If you want to try making your own book covers, or are still looking for a book designer, here are some handy resources I’ve put together that will save you time.
- Best Book Cover Software, Designers and Services
- How to Design the Best Book Cover in 8 Simple Steps
- Midjourney AI text to image book cover design art
- Custom book cover design (Creativindie)
- Book cover design templates and 3D mockups
- My favorite book cover designers
- where to find images for your cover design
- Best fonts for cover design
PS. I don’t talk about it much, but I started out as an editor, then a book cover designer. I even have a guide to book cover design you can download below, or some free templates. The first two links go over to Kindlepreneur, because his blog has excellent long-form articles. But you can *understand* why your cover matters without really being able to pull it all together yourself.
Cover Design Secrets: free guide
I’ve helped design over 1000 book covers, including hundreds of bestsellers – download my free book to learn all the insider secrets I use to sell more books. Click here to get it now. I’ll also share some of the advanced book marketing tactics I’ve used to make a full-time income with my writing.
FREE PUBLISHING CHEATSHEET
Go from zero platform to #1 bestseller in 90 days or less with my book, Guerrilla Publishing. Download now for free and get access to my new companion workbook and book launch roadmap (this is advanced stuff you won’t find anywhere else).
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.