The best book cover designers for indie authors (custom and premade covers)

The best book cover designers for indie authors (custom and premade covers)

Book cover design has changed a lot over the past few years, and I’ve seen a rise in high-quality covers for a much lower price than what was available in the past – however, some of the best designers aren’t well known, are booked out a year in advance, and only sell through Facebook (often a cover is bought minutes after posting online).

book cover designers

Since most “best cover design” example articles focus on literary fiction by traditional publishers, I wanted to show off some of my favorite covers and book designers, so you can get a sense of what you’re up against if you’re self-publishing. Most of these are fantasy or scifi covers, because those genres typically need a lot more skill to pull off successfully, and most have that hand-drawn, illustrated look that requires a Wacom tablet.

I chose designers who have been in the game long enough to develop a distinct, recognizable style; most of them charge less than $500 for custom design… if you can get on their calendar.

I also recommend joining the book cover marketplace to keep an eye out for great premades; most of these designs can tackle custom designs in any genre (including nonfiction).

Need a book cover designer now?

These designers are reliably good and have fast turnaround.

 

Clarissa Yeo

Owner of “Yocla Designs”, Clarissa excels at clean, professional design in a variety of genres. Here are some of my favorites. Update: check out the joint design team “JOY” for some epic fantasy premades.

Yocla Designs book cover design Yocla Designs book cover design

Yocla Designs book cover designYocla Designs book cover design

 

Rebecca Frank

Rebecca practically invented the now-common style you see in many dark fantasy covers; heavy glow, whipped hair, elegant decoration. 

Rebecca Frank book cover designRebecca Frank book cover design

Rebecca Frank book cover designRebecca Frank book cover design

 

Sanja’s Covers

Sanja Balan has been putting out some amazing work in 2019, both her customs and premades stand out for their color and movement.

Sanja Balan book cover designSanja Balan book cover design

Sanja Balan book cover designSanja Balan book cover design

 

Book Covers by Juan

Jay Villalobos produces consistently great work in a variety of difficult genres, with a heavy illustrated look and great colors.

Book cover by Jay VillalobosBook cover by Jay Villalobos

Book cover by Jay VillalobosBook cover by Jay Villalobos

 

Ryse’s Cult

Jennifer Munswami experiments with some very unusual cover design, but her designs are very powerful and stand out if you’re looking for something a little different.

Jennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover designJennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover design

Jennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover design Jennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover design

Jennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover design Jennifer Munswami Ryse's Cult book cover design

 

Mirella Santana

Mirella does a lot of Portuguese language books and her work has a dreamy, illustrated look to it. I actually use some of Mirella’s artwork on my fiction site.

Mirella Santana book cover design Mirella Santana book cover design Mirella Santana book cover design Mirella Santana book cover design Mirella Santana book cover design Mirella Santana book cover design

 

Moor Book Design

A relative newcomer, but I’ve been impressed by their clean, professional designs. One to watch for sure.

Moor Book DesignMoor Book Design

Moor Book DesignMoor Book Design

 

Amalia Chitulescu

Amalia’s work stands out for looking like (breathtaking) custom art and illustration, ideal for YA and MG fiction.

Amalia Chitulescu book cover designAmalia Chitulescu book cover design

Amalia Chitulescu book cover designAmalia Chitulescu book cover design

 

Seventh Star

When you want one of those “symbolic” covers, similar to what’s in vogue with trad publishers, Stefanie Saw is the best.

Seventh Star book cover design Stefanie Saw Seventh Star book cover design

 Seventh Star book cover design Stefanie Saw Seventh Star book cover design Stefanie Saw

 

Llilijana Fantasy Designs

Truly beautiful work with that subtle warm glow and heavy dark contrast that makes you feel like you’re interrupting a suspenseful conversation.

Llilijana Fantasy book cover designLlilijana Fantasy book cover design

Llilijana Fantasy book cover designLlilijana Fantasy book cover design

 

BookFly Designs

Consistently high quality and innovative designs – it’s difficult to know the genre rules so well that you can get away with not following them and still produce brilliant work. Clean, simple typography with well chosen fonts and creative layouts.

BookFly Cover Designs BookFly Cover Designs

BookFly Cover Designs BookFly Cover Designs

 

J Caleb Design

Sweeping, epic scenes that belong in a movie. Definitely a designer that’s having fun with his work.

J Caleb Design book coversJ Caleb Design book covers

J Caleb Design book coversJ Caleb Design book covers

 

Covers by Definition

Danielle Fine’s covers have an emotional resonance that’s hard to put into words.

dCovers by Definition Danielle Fine Covers by Definition Danielle Fine

Covers by Definition Danielle FineCovers by Definition Danielle Fine

 

Covers by Christian

Moody and colorful art, especially suited to epic fantasy and post-apocalyptic.

Covers by Christian book design Covers by Christian book design

Covers by Christian book design Covers by Christian book design

 

Carol Marques Cover Designs

Carol’s covers have a rough energy to them and bright, eye-catching colors.

Carol Marques Cover Designs Carol Marques Cover Designs

Carol Marques Cover Designs   Carol Marques Cover Designs

 

Orina Kafe

Orina is a Greek photomanipulator & freelance digital artist with really strong illustration skills who’s been making beautiful covers for many bestselling authors.

Orina Kafe cover designs Orina Kafe cover designs

 

Orina Kafe cover designsOrina Kafe cover designs

 

BZN Studio Designs

Arel B Grant often makes trilogy sets with a heavy textured style.

BZN Studio book cover DesignsBZN Studio book cover Designs

BZN Studio book cover Designs

BZN Studio book cover Designs

 

Molly Phipps

Molly also does formatting and her typography is always excellent.

Molly Phipps book cover design Molly Phipps book cover design

Molly Phipps book cover design Molly Phipps book cover design

Molly Phipps book cover design Molly Phipps book cover design

 

Sylvia Frost

Sylvia’s design and typography at The Book Brander is top-notch – perfect for manchest/romance covers (historical and contemporary) but also for breathtaking fantasy.

Sylvia Frost book cover design Sylvia Frost book cover design

Sylvia Frost book cover design Sylvia Frost book cover design

 

Mariah Sinclair

Although Mariah can handle a variety of styles, I love her cozy mystery covers – if you’re looking for that cute and fun, cartoon-styled cover she has a ton of great options.

Mariah Sinclair book cover design Mariah Sinclair book cover design

Mariah Sinclair book cover design Mariah Sinclair book cover design

 

Andreea Elena Vraciu

Andreea Elena Vraciu book cover designAndreea Elena Vraciu book cover design
 
 
Andreea Elena Vraciu book cover design Andreea Elena Vraciu book cover design
 
 
Andreea Elena Vraciu book cover design Andreea Elena Vraciu book cover design

 

MIBL Art

This design agency has a team of talented designers and illustrators, so if you’re looking for that illustrated look or a scene or character-heavy cover they’re a safe bet.

MIBL Art book cover design MIBL Art book cover design

 

MIBL Art book cover design MIBL Art book cover design

 

MIBL Art book cover design MIBL Art book cover design

 

Miguel Montejano

At Valued Creations designs, Miguel is making some clean, simple, beautiful covers I seriously envy.

Miguel Montejano book cover design Miguel Montejano book cover design

Miguel Montejano book cover design Miguel Montejano book cover design

KD Richie

K.D. Ritchie of Story Wrappers has a deeply emotive style with fantastic detail work that really stands out. Not the cheapest at $1000 right now, but totally worth it for this level of quality.

KD Richie book cover illustration

KD Richie book cover illustration

 

Red Leaf Book Design

Wilette Cruz has been making some stunning premade covers that always draw my eye; especially for the “trad-pub” look or YA covers.
 
Red Leaf Book Design Red Leaf Book Design
 
 
Red Leaf Book DesignRed Leaf Book Design
 
 

Methyss’ Coven

Ruxie Tudorica makes heavily illustrated covers with a dreamy, glowing look – perfect for MG (middle grade) and fantasy. www.methyss-art.com
 
Ruxie Tudorica book cover design Ruxie Tudorica book cover design
 
 
Ruxie Tudorica book cover design
Ruxie Tudorica book cover design
 
 

*** I didn’t specifically look for other genres, like contemporary, thriller, historical romance, cozy mystery, etc… but I will add those soon.***

Who didn’t make the list? I removed a bunch of links I’d added years ago – I was appalled at some of the choices I’d been recommending, compared to these newer artists. I’m a stickler for clean typography (no bevel or heavy dropshadow) though it’s fine when it’s done well.

I looked for people who had at least 4 covers I loved and without a portfolio that looked like they were just copying other people (which is fine, for practice and getting started). It takes years to become good enough at design to take more creative risks. I keep my eye out for talented book designers so I’ll keep this list updated.

Also, I’ve picked designers who I think are massively undervalued – most of these charge less than $500 for custom design work, and provide art that previously would have cost several thousand (which is why a lot of them are chronically overworked and booked out…)

From personal experience, I know that while making a premade cover can be fun and easy, designing a custom for an author is often frustrating and difficult.

Ps. I decided not to use links for now, because things on the internet change and I’d have to go through and clean or remove them later – Google them or search on Facebook to join their private groups.

I hope the curated examples above will inspire you. Leave a comment below and let me know which cover is your favorite! For more cover design inspiration, I also keep a Pinterest Board of amazing book cover design examples.

 

How much does book cover design cost?

Custom book cover design that’s actually good enough to sell books, is usually in the $350 ~$650 range, which may or may not include the paperback cover. Interior formatting is a separate service that some cover designers offer.

However you can find a great premade for less, in the $150~$350 range. Premade covers allow designers to just make something great, without trying to match the author’s demands (and authors don’t usually know what needs to be on the cover to sell books, so be careful about making a designer create your exact vision. If you’re getting pushback, it’s possible they understand the marketing and genre design tropes better).

The only less expensive option, is doing it yourself – I have some DIY templates that are useful for that, where I teach you where to sort the best fonts and artwork, and you can use my tools to put it together. But your cover is super important. You probably spent a long time working on your book, and you’re probably prepared to spend more time and money marketing it. The cover will make the biggest difference out of everything you try, so get it right. It needs to communicate your genre, not your story.

 

Your book cover matters! Get the best.

Some of the designers listed here will probably be pushing up their prices soon, expect to pay $300~$600 for quality book cover design and closer to $1000 for complete fantasy art with heavy digital overpainting and detail work.

You can find budget deals, especially for simple covers. But keep in mind, a good book cover is 95% of your marketing effort and expense. Don’t go cheap on a cover so you can spend more on book marketing or promotion.

On the other hand: it’s entirely possible to overpay for a cover that is well-designed, but doesn’t sell books. Before you invest or hire a designer, make sure you learn the basics so you know what to ask, who to hire and what kind of cover your book actually needs (don’t just hire a designer to make “your vision” – your inexperience can be costly).

After designing books for over a decade, I put together a short guide that will help you get the cover your book deserves.

Check it out: (Cover Design Secrets That Sell)

 

AI art for book cover design

I started talking about Midjourney AI art for book cover design last year, but it’s already gotten very good, very fast. A lot of artists and designers are freaking out, for good reason. But for authors, it means you can get a $1000+ high quality concept art illustration for nearly free. The hard part is adding text, but I have some premade design templates down below and a cover maker tool that should make it easier.

book cover designer AI art

There are some legal (and arguably moral) considerations, but it’s already becoming fairly common – soon AI art will be a normal feature in most design tools, or you can buy AI art directly from stock photo sites, who are building their own tools. It takes a lot of prompting to get right; I spend dozens of hours on a concept and then another dozen hours in photoshop putting it together. But very soon, you’ll be able to get 1-click art that’s more competitive and beautiful than what most designers could make, especially at the lower-end prices.


DIY book cover templates & premades

For about 9 years I’ve been working on an online book cover creator tool so you can DIY your own covers more easily. I finally got the latest version working, so I’m in the process of building new templates and tutorials for every genre. It’ll be a slow process, but if you want to learn more about book cover design, I have a ton of resources for you. It’s possible, but it’s a risk. However, with new AI art generators and my templates, it’s possible to DIY a very cheap cover that’s as good as something very expensive… but only if you know what you’re doing.

If you want to try designing your own book cover, I have some tools, tutorials and resources at www.diybookcovers.com

book cover design 3D mockup maker

 

1 Comment

  • Juan Padrón Posted

    Ohh i would love to be featured here… check my site http://www.juanjpadron.com i dont know if i have the enough quality to be here

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