How to Get a Cheap Cover – Part II

(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to.  At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series (because it’s a long, long post!)

Yesterday I discussed thigns that might help you get an idea of what you want your cover to look like. So, you’ve now got a general idea in mind. This is where we start branching off into the many, many possibilities. Does your amazing cover idea need photographs or artwork?  Does it need custom work? For instance do you want your main characters splashed across the cover looking exactly as you describe them, or do you just want any old silhouette of a girl? Depending on your answer you have some options.
Custom Artwork:

Where, oh where can you get custom drawn/painted artwork cheap? The first thing you want to do is hit up friends, family and even friends of friends. Assuming none of them are professional artists and at least one has some talent, there’s a chance you can get them to make your cover art for cheap, or maybe even free.

But what if you truly don’t know anyone? Well, you can try going to and browsing through people’s galleries to find someone with a style you like. Some people commission rules/prices listed on the profile page for all to see, others you might need to message.

To message someone on deviantart you will need to make an account. You can always delete it later, or leave it for posterity. You may get lucky and find that the artist has a website or contact info listed on their profile, but otherwise you’ll need to leave a comments or send them a note. Before you do that, though, you might check the date on their last upload. Was it three years ago? Chances are they’ve abandoned the account. You could google search them if it’s really worth it to you, but I’d recommend to just keep looking. also has art on it, and you can use the same method. Again, you need an account to contact the artist, but Flickr is owned through yahoo, so if you have a yahoo ID you’re in business.

Of course, you do run certain risks by just “cold calling” someone, so to speak. You have no idea if they’ll actually finish it, or if the work will be up to the quality you expect.

Another option is to contact the guy who runs He keeps a list of cover artists who will do covers starting at $30. And before you ask, yes, I’m on that list. A Custom artwork cover, complete with my doing the lettering and everything will run you 55$ unless it’s pretty simple – like mine – then it’s about $40. I am also willing to “trade” if you’re broke. Those are just my prices though, and I can’t guarantee what someone else’s will be. But, whereas smashwords doesn’t guarantee the artists either, they are on the list because they’ve done other covers on smashwords and people were happy with their results.

Your last option is, of course, to do it yourself. You might be surprised what you can do – even in a program like Paintbrush! (For step by step instructions on “How to Draw with No Money and No talent” you can check out the blog series I did here:

If Paintbrush is a little too simple for you, there’s always GIMP – a pretty powerful, but free, art program. I’ve actually used it before and got some good results.  And of course, if you really know what you’re doing you’re probably already using your favorite art program. Either way, play around in the program of your choice. Remember: Even if you think you “can’t do it” you might be surprised!

Of note: If you’re planning to use that method to make a book cover I suggest contacting the owner of the photograph first and getting their permission, just to be safe. it never hurts to ask!


Deviant Art:
Sci-fi and fantasy art:
Flickr –

Get GIMP – a free but powerful program!
41 amazing photoshop tutorials: (if you have another program and understand it these can be used to give you the general idea)

Smashwords artist list: mc AT smashwords DOT com (change the @ and the dot) – tell him you want a book cover and he’ll hook you up.

You can also message me at

Does anyone else know any other places/artists that do cheap or free covers?


  1. Wow! I checked out the six part series on drawing with no money or talent. You might want to compile all of your information into a book at some point. You are a gold mind of information. I’m so glad you’re posting! Is it okay if I link your posts up to my writing, publishing, and book promotion blog? I think this is information all self-published authors should at least be aware of.

    Now to to this post…

    I am not above bribing…I mean, asking…someone to help me with a cover. 🙂 Your prices sound very reasonable. I’m currently thinking of republishing my fantasy series but I want my kid’s bus driver to read the four books first to let me know if they’re worth it because she’s nice enough to be honest. If she says they are, then I’ll need cover art. I think those covers would be best if they were customized instead of the standard pictures I usually buy. So if she says my books are decent enough to show the public, I’ll be contacting you.

    1. Sure! Link away! 😀 Those things take forever to do, so the more people who get something from them, the better the time was used.

      hee-hee! Bribing is always good 😉 Oh! a fantasy series! (super geek here!) Excellent! Well good luck and I’ll be waiting to hear what she says.

  2. I just remembered I never answered your last question about where to find cheap covers.

    I think going to a place like,,, and are some reasonable places to find pictures for a book cover. I have a subscription for the year at, but I also use those pictures for my video trailers and sometimes for my website to make it more attractive. Anyway, one picture can range anywhere from $5 to $50 depending on the size and subscription package you get.

    1. Thanks! these are some good links! I will have to snag them for the photo blog 🙂

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