3 Reasons To Hire A Designer Instead of Buying a Premade Cover

As writers and readers we judge books by their covers and as a self-publisher choosing the right covers to represent your books is a major step towards getting sales and building your brand. This blog is going to provide you with 3 reasons why as a self-published author you should hire a designer instead of using a premade cover to represent your works.

07042015_scarlettrugers_thesacrifice_7001. Your cover will be about YOUR story

It’s the job of the designer to visually interpret your book. Designers at the very least will want details about the story including a synopsis, settings, main character descriptions and themes. Here at Scarlett Rugers we are unique in taking this process one step further and will read your manuscript so that we can gain an even clearer insight into your books style. Hiring a cover designer will ensure that your cover will be specifically accurate to your story and that it is presented in the best possible way.

Pre-made covers lack personal insight. They are often a generic representation of the style that is trending in that genre. In fact the chances of you finding a cover that says visually what you need it to is very slim. You will end up settling for a cover that may, almost, be right for your story but will most likely leave it wanting.

After working on a manuscript for years to have it reach perfection you have a book that is uniquely you, hiring a designer will ensure your cover reflects that in a way that a pre-made never will.

2. Your unique brand as a self-published author

The-Great-GatsbyThink about all the really great classic covers out there like “The Great Gatsby” and more recently “Twilight.” These covers are instantly recognizable because they are distinctive, memorable and are a visual brand for that author. Influential design work will assist in building an iconic style for your future books, like Josh Kirby’s amazing illustrated covers that established Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Working with a designer will always guarantee that your cover will stand out amongst its peers and build up an identifiable brand for your publications.

One of the major problems with pre-made covers is that they lack that certain something extra that will individualize your book or establish you as a professional author. The majority of them are made by stock images with typography applied to them. This can have a flattering effect, but the image used on that cover will also have been used on three other covers as well. They use the general mass market styles as a guide, selecting the most commonly occurring elements. Unfortunately your book will end up getting lost in the sea of similar covers and won’t define your brand in the future.

carpe-jugulum3. You get one-on-one advice through the project

Designers work closely with authors, consulting and advising them every step of the way. They will make sure that you end up with a cover that that blends your wishes with a professional, market standard design. Many pre-made covers are not made by qualified designers, and you don’t get much flexibility in what you can and can’t change. You only have to look at the quality between a professionally designed cover and a premade one to see the difference. You don’t have a say on what goes on it aside from your name and the title. That’s an important point you must remember, whatever cover you choose will be what is associated with your name. A badly designed cover could send the message to your audience that the writing is of the same quality and rob you of potential sales. I know there are exceptions and that some pre-made cover designers will alter elements on their cover to more suit your needs for a fee, but if you are willing to pay more money you are better off hiring a real designer to get what you want.

A book cover designer’s mission is to create works of art that sell. They won’t just copy what is already out there but will use their strong knowledge of the industry and through extensive discussions with you will design something one of a kind to establish you as a brand. Premade covers, while appealing as a cheaper option, may end up causing your work to be unnoticed and limit your sales. As publishers you need to think and invest like a business. You need to ask yourself what is going to be the best representation of you as a professional writer and publisher because it will be what your audience will immediately associate with you.

What are your thoughts on Premade covers? What kind of experiences have you had with designers or the premade option?

My top 10 favourite book covers

I want to share with you my top 10 favourite book covers. This list always changes but there are a few which have remained on there for a long time.

No deep explanation.

Just simply look, and stare, at their grace and beauty.

Imagine how they would feel between your palms, how they would smell, their weight. Feel the grain of the paper, the gloss of the gold foil. Be in this moment with the beauty of books.

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George Orwell’s 42 different covers for 1984


As a self-published author changing your book cover for your ebook or paperaback can be daunting. You don’t have anyone to really compare yourself against; how often have the best sellers changed their covers?

If the cover works and the book sells, why change it?

There are a lot of different reasons, but today to help put your questioning mind at ease I want to share with you the many different book covers for George Orwell’s 1984. A classic, a trend setting piece of literature, ground breaking in its prophecy.

While you browse the book covers I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you guess when the book cover was published?
  • What part of the design tells you it’s from a particular era?
  • What parts of the design are trends, which are now considered unfashionable?

  • What does each book cover say about the book? Does it convey the message of what the book is about?
  • Is there anything on the cover which shows what the book is actually about? I.e.: Is there a literal image of what’s going on inside the book, on the outside, or is it more symbolic?
  • How do you think the book would sell with each different cover, in today’s publishing industry?
  • Can you find the one that was designed after the film release?
  • Can you find the one that was designed by Shephard Fairey, the designer who did the Obama Hope poster?
  • If these covers were shared in the self-publishing industry, what sort of feedback do you think other authors would share? “Is the title big enough for the thumbnail?” “Does it speak of it’s genre?” “Does it say enough about the book? Is it too different?”
  • What is your favourite cover, and why?


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penguin-1984

This last book cover version is my favourite. It is a multi-layered concept designed by David Pearson, and this is what he says:

The new cover design is part of Penguin’s ‘Great Orwell’ series, a re-release of five of Orwell’s greatest works. Pearson and his team designed all five covers for the ‘Great Orwell’ editions, and although Pearson refers toNineteen Eighty-Four as the ‘risk taker of the series,’ each of the re-booted cover designs stands out as fresh and thought-provoking. When PSFK asked Pearson about the bold choice for Nineteen Eighty-Four, he told us his inspiration was ‘born out of altering/erasing the identity of the book,’ adding, ‘using classic Penguin livery – which everyone knows and understands – allowed for this sort of fun and games — I would argue that the idea wouldn’t work otherwise.’

This is why this book cover is my favourite, not just in this series but is in my top 5 across the board of book cover design:

  1. The concept: Penguin produces books that are considered classics, educational, and famous. THIS book in particular forces the reader to challenge their thinking, and the thinking of society around them. Pearson has used our real life experience with Penguin to transcend us into the book.
  2. By picking up the book to find out more we are going against group think and Big Brother.
  3. It is immediately eye catching and stands out amongst its competition.
  4. It is bold and intriguing
  5. It tells us what the book is about in simplest terms.

Even the most famous books go through major redesigns, from limited editions to scrappy high school paperbacks, from western culture design to European and Asian influences.

So when you think about if you should go for another redesign, ask yourself the same questions you asked when looking at the Orwell covers. Can you guess when the cover is published? Does it use trend style design, or is it timeless? Is it symbolic or literal, and what is more appropriate for your story?

 What are your thoughts on multiple cover design for a book? Should there be a limit, or different designs for different countries?