If you’re a self-published author, you’re probably already familiar with how hard it is to produce a book.
Traditionally published authors get free edits, cover designs, formatting, and printing, but self-published authors have to manage production by themselves. This isn’t as bad as it sounds—being able to do everything on your own means you get a lot more creative control over your final product than you might if you published traditionally. But it does mean you have to take every aspect of your book’s production into account.
And one of the most important aspects of your book’s production is the cover. Today, we’re going to talk about what premade book covers are, some pros and cons of using a premade cover, and where you can go to find your own.
Since people routinely judge books by their covers, especially in the age of online shopping—books not only need to pop out on the shelves, but they need to pop out as thumbnails, too.
Thankfully, there’s a relatively easy way to go about picking out a book cover for your next publication. You can use a premade one!
Let’s get started…
What are premade book covers?
Premade book covers are just what they sound like—they’re covers that are already completely ready to go. You’ll put your own title and author name on there, but other than that, they’re already done. You don’t need to go through the process of customizing your cover with an artist—it’s more like picking a book cover off the shelf at a store.
This sounds like a dream come true, right? A complete book cover without any of the hassle—sign me up!
Well, let’s evaluate. Because while premade book covers can absolutely be a great tool for self-published authors, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Before you jump right into buying a premade book cover, you should know about some of the difficulties you might face.
Since a book cover is often the most important piece of marketing you have, it's important to consider these factors.
Pros and cons of using premade book covers
Here are a list of pros and cons for using premade book covers. If you’re not sure whether this is the right avenue for you to try, this should help you out!
Pros of using premade book covers
Premade book covers might sound like a dream come true because, in a lot of ways, they can be! Here are a few ways that premade book covers might help you out, especially if you’re a brand new indie author.
- It’s extremely easy—they’re already finished
It might sound obvious, but the biggest perk is that the book cover is already finished. Working with a cover artist on a cover can take a ton of time.
But wait, you may be thinking. I could just make my own.
If you’ve got experience in graphic design, specifically in book design, sure! Go for it! But the average self-published author doesn’t have a lot of experience in graphic design, and creating a book cover that’s contemporary, unique, professional, and useful as a thumbnail is way harder than it sounds. You can take classes on places like Skillshare or use Canva templates, but the gap in quality will be noticeable.
Premade book covers take the work out of it. When you buy them, they’re already done, and this means you don’t have to learn how to make a cover or try to find someone to make one for you. Easy peasy.
- They’re (usually) cheaper than custom book covers
Most self-published authors go the route of finding a cover artist to design a custom cover for them. This is a fantastic idea if you’ve got the resources and time to do it—custom covers can be a game changer for your book.
But not everyone can afford a good cover artist. And some writers turn out books so quickly that hiring a cover artist for every single title might get needlessly expensive and time-consuming. If you’re the sort of writer who cranks out an ebook every other month, your cover is still important, but it might not be as important as someone who publishes one novel every few years or so.
Premade covers are, on average, cheaper than custom book covers. And you don’t necessarily have to compromise on quality—plenty of premade book covers look just as professional and modern as the ones you might hire an artist to make custom for your book.
If you’re an indie author on a budget, this is great news! You get a cover with almost no hassle, and you get it at a fraction of the price you might otherwise pay.
- You have lots of options
There are approximately a zillion premade book covers out there for a wide variety of genres. While you won’t be able to customize it, you can definitely search for one that works for your book, and you’ll be able to pick from plenty of options. This diversity allows you to find the best possible fit for your book.
- You don’t need to have your book finished to buy one
One underrated perk of premade covers is that you don’t have to have your book finished before you buy one.
When you get a cover custom made, you often have to have the word count and page count prepared. This is so that the artist is able to take the spine and size of the book into account. Again, if you’re getting a custom cover, that’s great! But we don’t have the time and money for that.
And thankfully, premade covers can be bought anytime. You don’t have to even write a book to have one—you could pick one out and use it as inspiration for your next novel, if that strikes your fancy.
Not only does this take a little pressure off, but it gives you flexibility when it comes to your publication schedule. You won’t be waiting for cover designs to come in if you’re already got the cover secured in advance. With a premade cover, you can schedule your book launch with a little less wiggle room with regard to the cover.
Cons of using premade book covers
Premade book covers are a fantastic resource, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Let’s talk about some of the drawbacks to using premade book covers.
- They’re not super series-friendly
Premade book covers are often intended for a single book, and this means they’re not super convenient for making a series.
When you create a series, you generally want your books to look similar—they should look like they’re part of a series. Premade covers don’t allow for a ton of customization, which means you kind of have to do your best to find covers that look similar. This can be difficult, although not impossible.
Having covers that don’t match might make it harder for readers to understand that these books are meant to be part of a series. If they look different, readers will assume they’re different, even if you’ve indicated in the title that they’re part of a series. For more info on setting up box sets, check out this article.
- You’ll have to hunt for quality covers
You can find premade covers that are professional and high-quality, but I won’t lie to you—you will need to dig to get to them. There are a ton of not-so-great options out there.
Some of this is just getting what you pay for—if you only pay a few bucks for a book cover, you’re probably not going to get the best one out there. And you may be able to find a decent cover artist who can create a custom cover for your book cheaper than an expensive, high-quality premade cover.
As I said, it’ll be a lot of digging through rougher options to find something that works for you. This can take a while, which can be a drawback if you’re pursuing this option in the name of saving some time.
- They’re not custom to your book
Another obvious drawback—these covers aren’t custom. They can be good, and they can even match up with other contemporary releases, but they aren’t custom to your novel and your story.
What does this mean? Basically, you run the risk of having a generic cover. It might look polished, but it might not look particularly unique or stand-out. And you want your cover to stand out (in a good way).
As I said, your cover is your biggest asset when it comes to marketing. It should convey the themes, tone, and general vibe of your story. Looking at the book should give a reader an immediate feel for target audience, genre, and maybe even subject matter. YA fantasy books don’t look very much like adult crime novels, for example.
A premade cover might get the genre and target demographic across, but it’ll be hard to find one that conveys your book’s subject matter, since it wasn’t made with your book in mind.
- You have to ensure rights to the cover
Finally, when you get a premade book cover, you have to make sure you’ve got the rights to that cover before you publish it.
Ideally, when you buy the book, you’ve already got rights to the image. This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, you buy a cover that the artist didn’t have the rights to use, and now you also don’t have the rights to use it. You may need to pay a fee to use that image—it depends on the specifics.
The best way to avoid this issue is to make sure that the site from which you’re buying your cover says, in writing, that the cover you’re getting will be yours and yours alone. This means you won't have to deal with licensing headaches if you ever sell your rights later. This also means that you won’t find someone else with the same book cover. It’s also important to do an image search for your book cover and see if it’s already appeared somewhere else.
Where to get premade book covers
Now that we’ve covered how premade book covers work, where you can get them, and listed some pros and cons, you may be wondering where you can start digging for your own. Luckily for you, I have a list of premade book cover sites here!
Again, make sure to do your own research when it comes to premade book covers. Consider your budget, evaluate whether you have exclusive rights to the image when you purchase it, and take your time picking out a cover that works for you!