Back in June I discussed finding a pre-made cover. The hope was to upgrade from the Fiverr, Deposit Photo, GIMP solution that I’ve used in the past. The truth of this past cover is that I am really paying fiver for topography. I am asking what style/color of text works best for an image. That’s not a bad value, because it really is valuable. Each Deposit Photo would cost me about $5 and then there would be identifying text fonts from similar books. I would then need to boil down the top three colors of a cover and use a color wheel to find the right text color. I would then need to combine it all. At very least, that would take me about 30 min to 45 min. I pay $7 to save that time ($12-$5).
The only problem with this value is that I can’t expect them to do much work for that $7. The truth of it is I would expect them to have it boiled down to a 10 minute procedure; with a bunch of up sells that are the real money makers. So I am looking towards the next step up. I also looked at the step above that. The next step up is to take some of that image stock and have a designer custom build new images from it, then complete the needed topography. I am currently paying about $150 for each cover. That will include the extra bells and whistles (print cover, 3D mock up, audio book) that would normally cost me at the cheap place around $40 for each cover. So, for that $110 extra I hope to get a couple hours worth of work on each cover; mostly to make modest changes.
The next level up is even more costly, though there might be ways to dilute the costs a bit. The next level up is to have two artists instead of just one. With this level, you have someone draw characters and backgrounds. You then have a cover designer take these images and build them into a workable book image. I’ve spent a bit of time on this and I think you can get a dirt cheap hand drawn image at $100, but the truth is really $260 to get a good image. Plus, add in the $40 to convert that image into a book image, and you get nearly $300. That’s a very bottom cost per cover. So the cheapest level is $12 per cover, my middle range is $150, and my top end is $300 for the cover. Right now, I am not sure I have the platform to go all the way to the top, but I am hoping that I can afford the middle range. My shorter stories will probably stay around the bottom tier. In the future, I may go with more top end tiers, but that will be after I have a bigger established audience. Ultimately, that’s how you decide which cover and cost to go with. My own personal yardstick is earning out the production costs within two years. My stories stories and novels, with everything (eBooks / audio files / print books), cost $270 per 10k written. If I remove the ghost writer, it would be $140 per 10k written. In the end, my hope is to mix novels and short stories. I would like to write the short stories and plot out the larger novels. The goal is that everything is touched/directed by me, but I make progress even if I have a bad day. In order to make that happen I hope to align more marketing mechanisms. I’ll then work on the other side of all of this (the research) and combine all of this into a bit more of a regular system.