Should I Invest in a Cover Designer, or Just Buy Photoshop?



My dear author friends, I know that some of you are thinking this. You look at the cost of a cover designer and wince. And it’s not just a one time cost, oh no, you have to pay for every book you put out in your career. I mean, Photoshop is an investment, no question, but how many book covers would you need to create on your own to cover the cost? It starts to seem a little bit more reasonable. Maybe you have a friend who says “I decided to just spend the money and buy Photoshop myself, I spent some time learning to use the program and now I can make my own covers!”


Well, stop it. Your friend (who I’m sure is lovely in every other way) is wrong, and doing their career no favours. Do you know why?

Photoshop is not magic. It does not design book covers. It’s just a tool. A powerful tool, no doubt. But power does not equal skill.

Imagine if I told you “I’ve decided to be an author, so I bought Scrivener. I spent a week watching tutorials on how to use it and now I can write a best selling novel!”

“But wait!” you’d say, “Scrivener is a very cool program, but you still don’t know anything about writing! What about grammar, punctuation, dialogue, plotting, pacing, character arcs…”

Are you starting to see? Good cover design takes far more than a program. It takes hours and months and years of practice. It takes a passion and an eye for strong design. It takes a knowledge of colour, composition, typography, and in my case, illustration.

You’ve spent thousands of hours honing your writing skills. Entrust your cover to someone who has spent that kind of time on their design skills.

One more thing.

You might be thinking “But I’m not like those other authors, I have a good eye for design. And I like to create book covers, it’s a fun break from writing!”

I have two answers to that. First, and I hate to tell you this, but you are probably wrong. I don’t know you personally (and if I did, I’d probably be too polite to be this blunt to your face) but your covers are not as good as you think they are. I only know a handful of authors, maybe 10% of all of those who try to do their own covers, who manage to create passably professional looking book covers.

And the remaining 90% all think that they can. So think on that before you decide to do your own cover.

Secondly, those 10%? The ones who are doing a fairly proficient job? They are still only making passable covers. And if you think that passable is a win, please take a minute to read my post “How Much Does Book Cover Quality Really Matter?”

You should only be making your own book covers if you are a professional designer and have a style that suits the tone of your books.

And if you are a professional designer? You already have Photoshop.


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