Should I Buy a Custom or a Pre-Made Cover?

Designers often offer two types of covers. Custom made covers are designed from scratch based on an author’s story and his preferences. Pre-made covers are created by a designer independently without collaborating with an author. The only custom element with this type of cover is usually the change of the title and the author name.

In this post, I’m going to explain the advantages of both types of covers. My intention isn’t to push you to one or the other, but rather to help you decide which cover is more suitable for you based on your situation.

The Benefits of a Pre-Made Cover

Pre-made covers are great if you’re on a budget. Don’t get me wrong–if you’ve got a $100 to spend on your cover, you will be able to find designers who are willing to make a custom cover for that price. But unless you’re incredibly lucky, you probably won’t get a high-quality design at that price point. That’s because the designer simply won’t be spending that many hours working on your project–and that will be reflected in the final result.

If you’ve got a $100 to spend, my advice is always to go with a pre-made cover from a higher end designer. Look around at top designers and see what they’re offering in their pre-made selection. Often you can find a cover there that looks amazing and is very affordable.

The argument against pre-mades is that the cover is not going to represent your book perfectly. But as I mentioned in my previous post (you can read that here), that might not be that important. A good book cover doesn’t need to have all the details and elements from the story. A good book cover should create curiosity in a potential reader’s mind, and it should make him want to buy the book to find out more.

Another reason to choose a pre-made cover is if you’re unsure of what you want. If you’re not able to formulate the idea for your cover in your head, go to look at the pre-made covers offered by your favorite designers. See if you can find something that would interest you, and you might even come across a cover design that is just perfect for your book.

Another great use for pre-made covers is testing. You might have noticed that big authors are often changing their covers. They might replace one beautiful design with something equally beautiful but completely (or even just slightly) different. Pre-made covers are a great way to make that possible. If you want to change the style of your cover but can’t afford another custom design, you can get multiple pre-made covers for much less money. You can then test them on Amazon or another publishing service to see which cover performs best in terms of sales.

Finally, I’d like to mention another benefit of pre-made covers, and that is inspiration. I know of several authors who have written a book based on seeing a pre-made cover and thinking “I have to write a book that goes with this cover”. It doesn’t always have to be that you are looking for a cover for your book – it can be vice versa.

The Benefits of a Custom Cover

Let’s move on to the benefits of custom covers. These covers are usually more expensive than pre-made covers, but if you have the money to spend, it’s probably the path you want to go down.

The main advantage of this type of cover is in its name–“custom”. A good cover designer is able to work with your story and your ideas and turn them into a design that looks great, fits in the right genre and represents your book perfectly.

The second advantage is that you often get multiple concepts to compare from the designer. That gives you a great starting base to decide what elements you do or don’t like and how you’d like your final cover to look. After that, there are usually a number of revision rounds in which the cover designer and the author work together and look for the perfect solution. These changes and iterations are what makes the biggest difference between a pre-made and a custom cover. At this stage, you might decide that you want to choose your own font, make your author name bigger, replace some of the images or make the woman look the other way and so on. None of this is possible with a pre-made cover.

Another important thing to mention here is that when working on a custom design, you’re building a relationship with your cover designer. If you’re happy with his work, it’s often much easier to put together a new cover design for your next book. He’ll already understand your preferences and the design style you like, and he’ll be able to use this knowledge on the next project. That will make the whole process faster, and it might save you a lot of time.

Finally, there is something that crosses both the pre-made and custom made covers, and that’s when you have a book series. If you find a pre-made cover series that you like, that’s fantastic. You’ll get all covers designed in the same style, and you’ll know that they will work well when displayed next to each other. However, if you find only one pre-made cover which you know is great for your first book, but the designer didn’t make a pre-made series based on this cover, it can get very expensive (The following books would need custom covers.). If you plan to write a series of books, but can’t find a good set of pre-made series covers, it’s usually best to talk to the designer first about a custom design and in most cases, he’ll be willing to negotiate about the final price for all covers.

I’d like to wrap up this article by saying that the purpose here has not been to highlight one type of cover design over the other. It always depends on your current situation, on what you’re looking for and your current budget. Each type of cover design has its benefits, and they can have a different value to different authors.

Should I Buy a Custom or a Pre-Made Cover?