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covers, fonts and costs

Writing a book? Awesome! Plan to sell the book? Even better!

Becoming an author sounds straight forward in my head: write, sell, get rich and famous, sell your book to a major movie producer and roll around in the royalties as big-name stars turn your story into art. Easy, right? Hmm … perhaps not.

As it happens, I don’t want to be famous or rich, but I’d like to make some hobby money, or even a living, out of writing novels. I’m setting my sights low enough to avoid disappointment, but high enough to motivate myself. My first book is nearly finished and ready to let loose on the world, but before it goes online, I need to wrap it in something pretty … a book cover.

Which leads me to my rough guide on how to get poor(er) before you even start selling your book.

  1. Open your wallet and watch the moths fly out.
  2. Find your over-used credit card.
  3. Buy a cover design / stock photography (alternatively, skip this and do it yourself or find a willing friend to do it for you)

Because I’m a poor writer and have an over-inflated sense of talent in graphic design, I went with the do-it-yourself plan, and it was only through luck that I found the cover images I wanted free of charge. (I suspect this may be a one-off anomaly.) This was all thanks to a generous and talented photography friend and an equally kind Romanian photographer named Catalin.

Had they not been so forthcoming with their talent, I was prepared to buy the rights to whatever images I needed. After that, I planned to cross my fingers that ‘d sell enough books to cover the expense and then have enough money left over to buy a block of chocolate. (Yes, I’m chocolate-obsessed and am considering therapy to address it … maybe.)

Before getting the images I’m using, I discovered there’s plenty of free-to-use stock images out there, but was limited by choice and was unable to get that exact image I had in my head onto my cover.

Because we all need professional-looking covers to help sell our ebook product, self-publishers can often decide to hire someone to do it for them. I recommend doing so if graphic design isn’t your forte. If you’re talented enough, you can avoid the cost of hiring someone to design a cover, but you still may have to buy stock photography. It’s a cruel, cruel, expensive world.

Which brings me to my next point: typography. You need one to match in with your cover images and story and general all-round image. I like the aesthetic-factor too. If it looks good, I’m happy.

So what happens if you find the perfect font? Well, you need to make sure you can use it commercially. Some font authors require some sort of payment or acknowledgement or a mixture of the two. There’s a whole world of free to use fonts out there, but not all can be freely used commercially. I sourced my fonts from and while one had an open license to use it on my cover, another was an uncertainty so I sought permission and got it with surprising speed. My advice, if in doubt, contact the designer and make sure you’re allowed to use the font to embed on ebook covers.

withoutwarningDRAFTA shout out to exljbris the designer of my main font FONTIN for their assistance.

I’ve been mucking about with my cover design for a few months now, and I think I finally hit on a winner. Here’s a sneak peak at the draft cover of my upcoming book. What do you think?


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