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Three Types of Book Cover Design – Part 2


Illustrated cover designs offer artists the opportunity to bring their own distinct style and that can be anywhere from very simple right up to the most intricate.

There are certain genres where readers expect to see an illustrated cover. The science fiction and fantasy genres are two of those genres where complex and elaborate illustrations are expected. In literary fiction, just recently simple illustrations, often abstract, have come to be expected from readers.

What you need to understand at this stage is that not every cover designer is an illustrator and that not all illustrators are able to design covers. Often, designers commission illustrators to do some work on a design and that means it is their job to make sure the cover design fits with the title. It’s not a lot of good if the design is too intricate and fussy and adding a title and author name will just make it look bad.

There is an obvious downside – illustrated covers take time and cost money. Even using a designer skilled in illustrations will still take time compared to using and manipulating stock images. You really have to consider, taking the type of book into account, what kind of cover you want and whether the extra cost is worth it.

Expect to pay a daily rate of $200 to $350 and if you want complicated illustrations rather than stock images, double your cover design budget.

Original Photography

Book cover designs that use original photography are not common and this is down, once again, to time and money. If you thought using an illustrator was expensive, using original photography is very expensive and very time-consuming.

Publishers tend to go down this route only when they cannot capture what they need using stock images or illustrations and the two main genres that use this are romantic fiction and celebrity memoirs. These days, though, the stock libraries are full of images of female and male figures that can easily be used on romance novels but some of you will still remember the old days of the Mills and Boons romance, with their airbrushed photos. This can still be seen on some covers but smaller production budgets tend to make them rare.

If you are not famous but you are still producing a memoir, avoid a photoshoot. Readers are not likely to recognize you and using your own photo won't enhance your book. In terms of cost, adding in studio space, hair, makeup and so on, you can expect to pay well over $1000 a time.

In the most basic terms, these three cover design types are the main ones that both authors and publishers can make use of.  If you have a say in what the design is, you are likely to want a cover that really fits with your book but you also have to remember that choosing a cover is a business decision. The design has to offer the most amount of impact for the cost of it and, in almost all cases, that will mean going down the most cost-effective road.



Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds