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.






Futuristic Romance Cover

Odessa Black is starting 2017 off with lots of books. Her next up for release is Object of My Protection. It’s a futuristic, dystopia, SF, romance.

Odessa is wrapping up revisions and will be sending out ARCs to serious reader reviewers soon. If you’re interested in being on her ARC team send her a message.



Model stock provided by Period Images


Heavenly Creatures

I was given the opportunity to do two different angel PNR covers back to back. The first was Odessa Black’s Black Soul. Odessa and I chatted a bit about her story. She wanted vines wrapped around the man on her cover but other than that, she left it up to me.

Vikkas Bhardwaj ( did a custom photo shoot for her and I went to work on her cover.

I knew her characters didn’t have wings, but I wanted to convey the genre at least a little. Her half angels travel around by sort of melting into the earth, hence the vines.

I wanted to also go against the knee jerk reaction of making the cover black with the title of Black Souls. I wanted the opposite. I wanted subtle wings and golden heavenly light.


The result was my favorite cover to date. Readers commented that the cover model was perfect for the main character. His pose is spot on for the tone of the story.

This cover was so attention grabbing that the writer had over 40 review requests in two hours of posting on her own timeline. Voice actors contacted her to do auditions. It was a bit overwhelming for her, but in a really good way.


People have been leaving great reviews and are eager for her next book in the series. Well, I’m sorry to tell you, there is a tiny bit of wait. However, she has another series out already called The Cursed Series. There are several books there to keep you occupied and a new one will be releasing in March.

In February, she has a stand alone futuristic novel, Object of My Protection. The cover reveal is happening on the 30th in her newsletter. This is also one of my best covers. It was such a treat to make. A definite labor of love. I’m very proud for it to be on her story.

Tortured Soul is the next book in the Forbidden Series. I’ve already designed the cover for it and I love it. Tortured Soul is scheduled for release in April.

You can sign up for Odessa’s newsletter to stay up to date with her new releases and sales coming up soon. And of course Black Soul is now available in digital and print.

Object of My Protection Cover Reveal


About the same time, Jessie Wrights, contacted me about a premade which was already taken. So, we worked out a custom cover for her. Jessie had a good idea of exactly what she wanted and I am delighted to have been able to live up to her expectations.

She did not want the heavenly angel look, she wanted fire and darkness. Well, she had me at fire. Again we browse Vikkas Bhardwaj’s stock images and find one she liked. It came together beautifully.


Can’t wait for this paper back to be on my shelf.


I can’t thank Vikkas enough for the most perfect stock for these covers.



Newest Cover Reveal

Odessa Gillespie Black-Best Selling Author


Cover courtesy of Winter Bayne. Model: Vikkas Bhardwaj.

Excerpt from Black Soul Book One of The Forbidden Series

I had forgotten how alarming my abilities might be to a human. I was here then there. In front of her.

Her jaw dropped and her knees gave as I leaned in to catch her. She would find my breath hot and strangely sweet as it tickled her face. I couldn’t stop the effect.

Her pupils narrowed, but she didn’t flinch.

With a curled forefinger, I lifted her chin. “Don’t fear me.”

“Noah?” She whispered incredulously. Her aura alternated between purple and orange, back to purple, then red, then back to purple. Love, fear, love, anger, and ended up on the one I hoped for. Purple:Love.

Caroline reached out. Her fingers grazed the dark, cool skin on my chest. The sensation was as flame to ice. She stroked the muscles that hadn’t…

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Back from the Abyss

Crystin Goodwin

Well, friends, National Novel Writing Month is drawing to a close …

How did I do?

Not so great. In fact, I almost considered giving up halfway through. But a wonderful friend told me, “Only losers give up, and you are not a loser.” So with her encouragement, I adjusted my goal to simply write every day and build a good habit to carry into next month and the next and so on. And that, I’m glad to say, I managed to successfully accomplish.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve come out of social media hibernation.

After showering you all with several teasing hints, today – finally – marks the release of my holiday short story collection! Behold, I give you …


Isn’t it glorious? Here’s what it’s about:

Ever wondered how your favorite fantasy characters celebrate the holidays?

In this special two-story collection, you’ll journey to Myrillia to…

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Sarah Hegger




I am most fortunate to be doing some promotional materials for Sarah Hegger, author of the Sir Arthur Legacy, a medieval romance. She is published through Lyrical Press and you can see her Amazon page here.

She is about to introduce her fifth book in the legacy, so now is a good time to get into the series.





There are more promotional materials in the works, but these are my recent projects.



Behind a Historical Fiction Cover

Joshua Robertson’s historical fiction The Prince’s Parish


This isn’t my usual cover which was rather exciting for me. I basically had this to go on for the cover:

Title: The Prince’s Parish
Genre: Historical Fiction
Concept: An old, rickety table with a old clay cup and spilled dice. Like 800 – 1200 feel. The backdrop should look like a cellar, or just a gradient color that meshes with the table well.

I went on to learn that the story deals with murder at the church. I personally didn’t feel like the cover concept as it was would really communicate the genre and tone. So we bounced around some ideas and I found a bloody hand holding a cross…everything clicked for me. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. I knew I wanted a lot of browns and golds to give it a vintage look.



I dig it.

You can dig it too on Amazon for .99!

Edgar left his grandfather’s sheep farm to become a curate at Arterbury Castle. He had expected a disciplined life with rigorous studies, but instead his spirit is tested by his sinful peers. When death knocks at the church door, Edgar must decide whether or not he has what it takes to survive.

The last two covers have been a wonderful break from Robertson’s usual cover requests. His next story which he is currently editing takes place in the Thrice Nine Legends Saga and I can sum up the cover request as….

A red headed six fingered Giant who lives underground fights a three headed snow dragon and a large polar bear…

*blink* yeah, when is Lilian Oake’s next story coming out? I want that cover…

Come back to see what the hell we come up with for his next story…I’m interested to know myself.