Graphic Design on a Shoestring Budget


One option you always have is to use one of the print-on-demand or self-publishing services you plan on publishing through. A couple examples are CreateSpace and Lulu, both of which offer professional cover design services. My biggest problem with graphic design services offered by big sites like these is the huge difference in price.

If you would rather not spend the time searching for a freelance artist and money is not an issue, this may be worth considering. Just be prepared to spend significantly more than most freelancers will charge to end up with a decent cover design package from a site like these. Pay close attention to how many revisions are included in the pricing package you are interested in.

For example, Lulu offers three different pricing packages for professional cover design services. The first is their “Basic” design service, which in my opinion is far too basic to be worth paying for. The other two are the only ones likely to be of a high enough quality that I could recommend paying for.

However, I’m reluctant to suggest their “Premium” or “Custom” design packages to anyone, unless money is not at all a concern and your budget is generous, to say the least. Premium covers from Lulu run at $450 a pop, while a truly customized design is priced at just under $1,000. Sheesh.

Similarly, CreateSpace offers book cover design services that start at just $99 and run as high as Lulu’s Custom package, though they have several more pricing options between the two extremes. If I had to guess, that translates to varying degrees of mediocrity rather than a wider variety of high-quality options worth your money. I could be wrong though. That’s just the way it looks, as I’m checking each one out right now.

Okay, I saved this option for now since it is both last and certainly least. In monetary terms, at least. For authors or aspiring writers who just don’t have lumps of cash to throw around like some others may, there are a couple of rather cheap and creative ideas to explore that can actually leave you with some acceptable or even impressive results.

Yep, it’s true. You can cut some corners here, if you’re willing. The nice thing about trying these cheaper and alternative methods is that the investment is small enough that it’s well worth the risk you take.

That means if you don’t like what you get, it won’t mean spending hundreds of dollars on your second attempt at the right cover design for your book. That sounds very good to me, which is one of the reasons I went this route.

The other reason was that I had a budget of about, oh, nothing. At least to start. Once I got my first months payments from my Amazon Kindle sales, I was able to invest some of that money in promoting my eBook and upgrading some of my book’s other elements also.

I had tons of fun with that, so you definitely can to. I am hoping that this will help you do just that — have a lot of fun doing something new that you haven’t tried before and even finding out you can be successful and make some extra monthly income in the process. Can’t beat that.

All right, so if you need some graphic design on the super cheap…there are two main things you can consider or give a try.

The first is to see what kind of quality you are able to find on a site like Fiverr. In case you’re not familiar with Fiverr, it’s a neat site where people can post the things they are willing to do in exchange for a flat rate of $5.

You may be thinking, who gets a professional eBook cover design for only $5? That’s impossible! Well, that may be half way true. But it might not be. I’ll let you decide on your own, based on the experience I had using the site.

So I did a quick search for eBook cover design and saved a good handful of “gigs” that looked appealing or possibly worth looking into further. After I had a good sampling, I contacted a couple of the sellers and we started chatting back and forth about my book cover and the type of design I was envisioning.

Here is a priceless tip for using Fiverr. If you want to get better work than what $5 will buy, simply offer to order their gig multiple times. So, when I had chosen an artist that I was ready to buy from I offered to order the gig three times if I was really happy with the design, but committed to a minimum of twice to ensure that she would be paid $10, rather than only $5. Not a huge difference, but I was playing around and wanted to see how it would turn out.

After coming to an agreement and explaining in as much detail as I could how I wanted the cover to look, she went to work. She got back to me when she was done, which was very fast. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Ordered the third time to show my appreciation and offer it as a tip for her help.

It was far from what $400 will get you, but it looked good enough that I felt it was acceptable to use as my initial Kindle eBook cover design.


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