Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 5: Decorating

Laying Bricks(1)

I want to be clear that this series does not intend to explain how to become a best seller, how to market and promote like a pro and all of that. I named this series Laying Bricks to demonstrate the importance of laying a proper foundation for producing a book. However, we are officially passed the ground work and are now ready to decorate a little bit.

I don’t have to tell you how important book cover design is. In fact, many of your favorite author blogs have already said as much a gazillion times. For this reason, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this topic. Hopefully, what I can provide instead is something a bit different than what you’ve already been told. Hopefully, we can spend this precious time of yours talking about something a bit more unique.

When it comes to Book Cover Design you have 3 choices. You can purchase a high priced professional book cover, purchase an affordable pre-made, or have someone you know who specializes in graphic design to do it for you.

Paying More

My first experience with paying more than I’d like to on a Book Cover design happened when I was tired of my books looking bootleg and I invested in 99 Designs, an online graphic design contest marketplace. The program sells all kinds of designs from Book Covers to Logos. The process is set up like a contest where you pay a certain amount of money to have more than one graphic designer to compete to design your perfect cover. As the days go by and the designers are working and submitting cover designs as if your their personal client, you’re reviewing and eliminating designs at various stages. Each designer is working to edit the cover to your liking at each step and you are eliminating them as you go on. I really enjoyed the process and it was a fun experience that I wouldn’t mind doing again.

What I loved about the experience was having talented graphic designers to work on my book covers. The reason I highlight this aspect is because when someone who is not a professional designer chooses a design for a book (let’s say an Independent Publisher / Self-Publisher designing their own book but is not a designer) they won’t necessarily have the same eye for those little things that can make a big difference in the design like a professional will have. We may not be familiar with elements, background, proper typography and all of that. I mention this because this can be one huge benefit to paying a little money for the right cover (That and y’all know how serious I am about investing in your business. Don’t always look for everything to be free or low cost and then expect the same quality).

However, 99 Designs was also too expensive.


The reality is that I’m broke. Many of these super professional covers, the ones that we’d all like to have are very expensive, priced anywhere from $300-$700 dollars’ minimum. Surely, I don’t have the kind of money to purchase a book cover at the same price I did for the 99 Designs (which I only made back by hosting a live event and selling paperback copies). This is where creativity comes in and with creativity comes pre-mades.

The benefit of having a pre-made Book Cover design is numerous. To start, you can purchase a cover for as low as $45 or even lower if you go through such places as Fiverr (which I wouldn’t really recommend getting anything too cheap, just saying).

Pre-mades are professionally designed Book Covers pre-designed by, for the most part, professional designers. They can be edited to fit the authors needs and some even give you options for changing colors and fonts to fit the style of your book.

I do have a concern about pre-made covers though that I cannot leave without warning you about. I have not yet heard anyone speak about this and while I’d highly recommend pre-mades (I use them myself), be sure you are on the lookout for covers that are a little too similar.

What am I talking about? Well, all pre-made book covers will have a disclaimer that sounds something like this:

“Once a cover is sold it is never sold again!”

Technically, this is true. Once you purchase a pre-made it cannot be sold again. The designer will remove it from their site and that design will be marked as sold. There is a loophole in this, though. That loophole is this: As long as the design is not exactly the same, the designer can sell a cover that is quite similar in taste. As long as there is something slightly different, the cover can be sold as a separate cover. It could even be as minimum as the font or maybe the person is standing on the chair instead of sitting in the chair.

This doesn’t always mean the similar cover is available I must add. Sometimes the designer will add the finished cover to the portfolio so we can see how the final version looks. However, there are many websites that are literally offering a similar cover for sale as the one that was sold with only minor changes. Just an adjustment here and there and it is literally the same cover.

If you purchase a pre-made, be sure it’s a truly unique one that is not like any of the others on that designers’ website. Check the bottom text of those that are similar and make sure it is only similar because the designer is showcasing the look of the final version.

When ordering premades try and look for exclusive premades or ask the designer if they make them. An exclusive premade is a pre-designed cover designed using photos from photographers who will only sell the photo used in the premade once. Otherwise the premade is pre-designed using photos from stock photos or from photographers who will sell the used photo in the premade again to other clients and covers. Although the premade cover is only sold once, the stock photo can be used again and again in other slightly different covers.

Either way, just find something that is unique.

An additional concern with pre-made covers is that rarely will you find pre-mades with anyone of a diverse nature. Rarely do I see pre-made book covers with Asians on them, Chinese, Blacks, Latinos, or Hispanics. For this reason, I often have to look into a custom made design or get a bit creative on my own if my cover will feature an African American person on the cover. (If you know of  designers who specialize in diverse covers, let me know!)

A Friend Who Designs

I’d just say here to make sure that this friend actually knows what they’re doing. Not all book cover designs (including pre-mades) have that professional look. Book Cover designers are everywhere now and graphic designer or no graphic designer some of these covers look like something you can just do yourself (free does not always mean quality).

Below are some pre-made book cover places to check out for those of you who are looking for covers. Many of them are really professional looking and the prices are reasonable:

The Book Cover Designer

The Cover Collection

Go On Write < Go On Write is currently running a sale on covers

Self-Pub Book Covers

Paper and Sage

The Book Cover Machine

EBOOK Indie Covers

Remember, it’s not just about a cute design. Be sure that this design is also a visual representation of your book.


Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first four episodes of laying bricks? Check them out below:

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks

(About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

(About the Revision)

Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting The Excess

(About Editing)

Laying Bricks Ep 4

(About Advanced Reviews, Pre-Launch)

Hot PBS Self-Publishing Topics to Date:


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

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I write Black Historical Fiction, and Soulful Poetry for the freedom of all people. Visit me on the web at

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