Book Cover Art & Design: How Much?
During the holiday period (when hopefully things will be a bit more quiet) I’m going to redesign my book cover design section to make it more informative and marketable. I’m also going to raise my prices for book cover work, and that causes a bit of a quandary. As much as I someday want to work for a large publisher for some proper money, I very much like working for self-published authors and smaller boutique publishers. I very much believe in supporting independent, self-published authors and don’t want to price myself out of that section of the business.
However, I also have to think of what I do as a business as well and eventually start making some money at this, or I should just go back to web design and development. For the past two years I’ve made less (much less) than the UK tax threshold for paying income tax. Not having to do a self-assessment tax return is nice, but not making any money at it at all is not. Oh, I’ve had the work – weeks when I don’t work on Saturday and Sunday are rare, and on one particularly stressful day I worked until 10:00pm and got up at 5:00am the next morning to start work again. As much as I love it, the work needs to start paying for itself.
My current prices are $120* per cover, plus the cost of all stock used. I’ve been throwing in POD cover templates for nothing, mainly because most people don’t tell me that they need them until the cover art is finished, so I’ve been saying “What the hell” and just doing them. What I’m thinking about is raising the cost of a cover to somewhere in the $150 range, with an extra charge for doing a print cover version. (If I’ve worked with you a lot, and we have an existing relationship, prices will probably stay the same as a “friends and family” rate.)
*Because I’m based in the UK and work with people all over, but mainly authors from the States, I set prices in USD. This makes things easier but I lose a lot of money on the currency conversion.
If you are a self-published author searching for a book cover artist, how would that range fit with your budget? I very much want to continue doing this type of work, and I feel that there is a definite price limit that most new authors can pay. Realistically, though, you do get what you pay for…there is a massive amount of really crappy cover art out there and I’d like to think that mine is professional, enhancing sales and helping to encourage readers to take a chance on a new author. I care very much about the work that I do – I just need to make a bit more money at it.
So, thoughts? What would you expect to pay for a cover? How expensive is too expensive?
It was this post by the very talented Lindsay Buroker, “How Much Does Self-Publishing a Book Cost?” that got me thinking about this. I’ve known for a while that I need to raise prices, but was unsure about where to set rates and when I saw this today it got me thinking. So I thought I’d throw it out there and ask. :)