Why Hiring a Book Cover Designer on One of Those Cheap Freelance Sites Can Be VERY Expensive!

Why Hiring a Book Cover Designer on One of Those Cheap Freelance Sites Can Be VERY Expensive!


I hope you can help me!

My publisher charges $700 to design a professional cover. That’s in addition to the $1500 they charged to publish my book. I wanted to avoid that expense to I found a cover designer on that cheap website, (name removed). The designer did a fantastic job. It looks GREAT! I uploaded it to my publisher and they rejected it for several reasons I don’t understand. I don’t know what RGB and CMYK are. They said my cover was designed in MSWord (what’s wrong with that?). They said something about bleed and the front and back covers being different sizes. They said there must be a spine. Why can’t they add that for free? All of the hard work is finished already.

I’m very frustrated! I wanted my book finished by Christmas but now it seems like I’m right back and step one. Worse, my designer has disappeared. She stopped responding to my emails after telling me the job was “finished.” She charged me $150.

I’m attaching the covers she designed here. Is my publisher just trying to rip me off by forcing me to buy their design services?


A –

You are one of many authors who have been sucked into the “cheap” freelance cover design industry. Anybody with a computer can start a virtual business, and pretend they know what they’re doing.

I looked at your files and your publisher is right. They can’t be used. What your designer did was a complete waste of time on her part, and a complete waste of money on your end. Everything your publisher said about the covers is correct.

RGB and CMYK are color modes used in graphic design. RGB looks better on a computer screen but CMYK is used for print. When you convert an RGB file to CMYK, the colors will change. Sometimes they’re barely noticeable while, at other times, they are glaringly apparent. For example, a rich blue cover on your computer screen might print in purple. Print covers must be designed in CMYK from the get-go so the author knows that what they’re seeing is how the cover will print.

MSWord is a horrible program to use for cover design. The files you sent to me are only 72 dpi. Files must be 300 dpi for printing. A professional graphics program is needed to create book covers for print publication. A hallmark sign that a cover has been designed in a word processing program is there is usually white space surrounding the actual cover (it’s on a “page” in the word processing program).

Bleed is also required. That’s the extra space around a file that allows the colors to extend past the trim lines. The printer will then cut off the extra at the trim-lines. Your files don’t have that.

Yes, your back and front covers are different sizes, which is bizarre. Also, there is no spine. When authors don’t buy cover design from their publishers, the cover must be submitted as one file only – back, spine, and front all together as one file, ready to print.

Sadly, there are also typos and missing spaces between words in your back cover description.


Almost every print on demand publisher takes all rights to covers they design for their authors. (BookLocker does NOT take rights from authors under any circumstances.) Do NOT get stuck in this type of “forced marriage” with your publisher. To avoid this, find a real cover designer who has been vetted, and who knows the specs for the largest print on demand printer, which virtually all of these firms use. You can find that person RIGHT HERE. And, YOU will own ALL RIGHTS to the cover design YOU paid for.

Incidentally, you paid $1500 to your publisher + $150 to your cover designer. BookLocker would have only charged you $975 for the same job, and it would have included original cover design. And, of course, you would own all rights to your cover and interior print-ready files.

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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