Cost of a Designer

This is a transparency post. I’ll post pretty book covers a bit later. I’ve got a few to show off. It has been a whirlwind of graphics last few months. I very suddenly had a wait list, practically over night. Then it doubled. Covers are a fickle thing…they come in waves. So who knows in a few months I may be twiddling my thumbs. It is a learning experience for me.

Not long ago I was considering my pricing. I do lots of research on what is standard graphics pricing in the self publish industry. Covers cost anywhere between $25 to $2,500. A writer has lots of options to fit their chosen business model, but I want to address why a “designer” charges what s/he does by showing my thought process.

Every designer has over head costs.
I subscribe to Adobe $139.00 per year I believe it is.
Background and element stock subscription and purchases and fonts so far this year it is at $200
Website and domain $30
Memberships to writer organizations – None yet but I am considering it for connections and validation
Promotion opportunities such as conventions – currently I’m at $1,000
Promotional materials to help with branding and gaining exposure – currently at $200 but that could and probably will increase
Reinvestment in my business and skills with classes – currently at 0 but I will be taking classes later.

I’ve already invested in most of the other software and hardware that I use. It was purchased last year and is paid for already from last year’s projects.
So at this moment my over head costs are around $1,570. For this year alone. Certainly, a designer can get away with less. I was prepared with investing in my side business up front with the hope of breaking even with the first three years as I build my client base.

That is over head, now let’s look at the cost of the process.

About 2 hours chatting with writers about their story and cover. For some writers I’ve also helped with marketing and other publishing aspects which increases the time, but this is my choice I do to help support my writers.
2 hours of stock hunting which can and has gotten as high as 4 hours.
6 to 8 hours making the actual cover. Yes, it really does take that long. I’ve timed myself and the majority of my covers take 8 hours at the PC. My style doesn’t lend itself to isolate cut and paste. I paint and over paint which takes time.
Making alterations after feedback from client 2 hours per round of changes. At this moment I don’t limit the number of changes.
Resizing the cover for print wrap 1 hour

That is roughly 15 hours per cover. Now, absolutely some covers take less time. A good solid number is 10. I’m confident my custom covers take about 10 hours each easy.

I charge $125 per cover at this time. I’m building my portfolio and continuing to learn new techniques. Taking only the time spent on covers into consideration at best I make $12.50 per hour for each cover. There are people who work fast food wanting $15 per hour. I know cashiers who make $13 per hour.

So, to break even this year I have to make at least 15 custom covers. Then I start making $12 per hour or less.

This model isn’t maintainable over a long period of time. A cover is not ever green. It is a one time sale. At the end of this year I’ll re-evaluate everything again and more than likely increase my price slightly. If everything goes well, I’ll have a good client base and more exposure. I’ll have to see then.

This should give you an idea of how a designer may price their services. I have set a standard where I should make $10 per hour right now.

I am so thankful that right now I don’t have time to clean my house or cook proper meals or put away clean laundry. I am that busy. I have a wait list. I also have a super understanding and supportive man in my life. I love doing this.

My advice was if a writer finds a quality designer who charges $150 or less per print wrap that s/he should hold on to the designer and love them.

I’ll cover what to look for in a quality cover later.







2 thoughts on “Cost of a Designer

    1. It is. There is a nice balance between what is trendy and sells with what a writer wants in a cover. Also writers should never think they are stuck with a cover for life. It is an investment, but it shouldn’t be dirt cheap (unless you’re lucky) and it shouldn’t break the bank. In the near future I’ll be doing a how to spot a quality cover designer and will be making recommendations. If there is anything else I can share let me know. I want to help writers find a designer they will be happy with at the end of the day.

      Liked by 3 people

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