Today, N.R. Wick talks about using pre-made cover art for your book covers. It's something I never even knew was an option, so I found it really useful. For the rest of the series, look below. And if you're a reader or author interested in giving your two cents on cover design, shoot me an email!
Using Pre-made Cover Art
One of my favorite parts of self publishing, besides having control of my own career, is preparing the cover for each book. Depending on my needs, I have different approaches and use a combination of creating my own covers, working with artists, and buying premade cover art. No matter which route I choose, it's still a tremendous amount of fun. Covers are usually the first thing a reader sees, and when I'm deciding on a book to buy, they are the first things I notice. I've even bought books solely because their covers were so awesome.
Right now, though, I'm obsessed with premade covers. I'm a premade cover hoarder. Seriously, there needs to be a PCHA (Premade Cover Hoarders Anonymous) because I know I'm not alone in this. Not only are there hundreds upon hundreds of premade covers to choose from, it's a simple and fast way to have the perfect cover for your book. There are up sides and down sides to using a premade cover, but for the right project, a premade cover can do wonders! I dare you to browse BookKoOp and not walk away needing the PCHA.
The great thing about premades is that they are quick and easy because they are pretty much finished. Usually, the only things that need to be changed are the title and the author name. This means that the artist can have the finished cover to you in 1-3 days after you have purchased it. Some will even make minor alterations, but be sure to check with your artist first.
Even though the ease of purchasing a premade cover can be great for the busy writer, it's always best to use the same safe practices that are used when hiring an artist to create a custom cover. Always work out delivery time before you purchase the cover, and don't forget to ask about rights to the artwork (who owns them, no royalty, what is the preferred method of credit given, etc.). Make sure you feel comfortable with the payment method. For example, I won't work with artists who don't use paypal.
Don't be alarmed if you are asked to pay up front. Generally, I have a rule where I will not pay full price up front for cover art. I'll agree to half up front and half on delivery, or all before the final draft is sent to me. That is my personal philosophy, but may not work for everyone. However, this won't work for premade covers, generally, because that is not an option and premades are so much cheaper. If you are worried about trustworthiness, ask other writers who have worked with the desired artist. Another benefit to using a premade cover is the price. Writers on a strict budget may have a lot more luck with a premade cover rather than a custom or self-made one. Not only will they have the professional look and brand of a skilled cover artist, but they will also have a great price point. Many artists have premades for as little as $20, though I have seen (and purchased) some as high as $150. It really depends on the skill level and price point of the artist.
By now you might be thinking, "What's the downside?" Really, there is very little to complain about if you use these premade covers well. One problem that can occur, though, is incompatibility with print. Most premades are high enough resolution for iPads, and some even for print, but using them may be problematic when trying to fit a rigid edge into a wrap around book cover for print. Hard line edges can be bad for print. There is also an additional cost to have someone turn your premade digital cover into a wrap around print ready version. My rule of thumb to avoid this is that I only use premade book covers for short stories and novellas, in other words, projects that will only be available in the digital format.
Overall, premade covers are an amazing resource, not only for publishing but for inspiration. I suggest checking out the mass amounts of cover artists who have added premade covers to their websites. You may just find the perfect cover for your next book!
Here are some recommendations for artists that I have worked with, who also have premade covers in their galleries.
about the author
N.R. Wick writes fiction for young adults and children. She loves everything magical, fantastical, and supernatural, especially if it's dark. N.R. Wick has a Bachelor of Arts in Pictorial Arts from San Jose State University, where she studied Illustration and Digital Media, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She currently teaches college level writing and lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two cats.