If you’ve been an indie or hybrid book publisher for any length of time, you’ve likely heard the phrase premade book covers floating around—and you know what the term means.
This post is more for publishing newbies, but there may be some helpful nuggets for the rest of you too.
So, for the newbies.
What are premade book covers? They’re covers made in advance—with placeholders for title and author—instead of custom created for your story. They’re genre specific, so they’ll do what a book cover is meant to do—market your book. Writing a romance? Look for premade book covers for romance.
Are Premade Book Covers Worth it?
Maybe. Or maybe you’re just throwing away your money.
Premade book covers are worth it if your designer understands the publishing industry. Your book cover is part of your packaging; if it doesn’t properly advertise your genre, it’s not worth it. Make sure your designer is aware of genre expectations and trends—and effectively advertises your story.
What do I mean when I say your book cover is part of your packaging? Or that it’s an advertising tool? I mean that your cover has a job, and that job is to help sell your book.
Many creatives—read authors in this case—aren’t marketers. They don’t think like marketers. For that matter, most readers aren’t marketers either, but they’re unconsciously influenced by what marketers want them to do. And in the world of publishing, marketers and authors want readers to first notice and then buy the book.
Now, more than ever, authors need to start thinking like marketers.
Some estimates say there are between 1,500 and 2,000 books uploaded to Amazon every single day. By the time you hit that publish button and set your book free to the world, you should have your marketer hat on. In fact, for your book to be successful, you need to start marketing well in advance of your release date.
What is the Purpose of Your Book Cover—or Your Cover Design?
The single most important purpose of your book cover design is that it promotes your book. Most importantly, it promotes your genre. If you write clean & wholesome romance and have a couple in a heated clinch on the cover, you’re going to drive readers away, not lure them in.
If you write horror and have a clown on the cover—okay, unless you’re Stephen King. But you get the idea, right?
So at whatever stage of your writing process you start thinking about your cover, you need to think first about the genre. The cover image should convey a message about what your book is about—generally speaking.
There’s an interesting thing about the words genre and generally. And because I’m an author and my first love is words and a designer second, we’re going to veer off a bit here and talk about the word genre.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says this about the word genre:
“particular style of art,” a French word in English (nativized from c. 1840), from French genre “kind, sort, style”
So, leaving proper English behind for a bit, your cover only needs to kinda, sorta, be in the style of what you’re writing. Your cover does not need to exactly replicate a scene from your book.
Let’s repeat that for emphasis. Your premade book cover does not need to exactly replicate a scene from your book. The only way you’re going to get a cover that exactly depicts a scene is to get a custom cover done—and that will typically cost you hundreds of dollars. What you do want is for your premade book cover to depict important elements of your book.
What do I mean by that?
Important Elements of Premade Book Covers
Here are several examples of what you want on your premade book cover—depending on your genre. But keep something in mind. Trends change. For the past several years, man chest (that’s what we insiders call these covers) has dominated romance book covers, but as I write this in the last quarter of 2022, there’s a new trend developing.
Here’s an example of the trend line. Over the last few years to now, October 2022.
But this next image is where romance book covers are heading—the use of graphic art.
However, there’s no need to panic just yet. If you take a look at the Top 100 Best Sellers in Contemporary Romance as of this writing, there’s still plenty of man chest. But do you see what’s happening?
Source: Amazon Romance Best Sellers
There aren’t that many man chests in Contemporary Romance anymore. But—and this is a pretty big but—depending on what sub-genre of contemporary romance you write, man chest may still be the thing.
And if it is, this is where the elements of a premade cover come in. At least as far as your imagery goes.
Using the covers above as examples, you should be able to tell what sub-genre of romance those covers are suitable for. Additional elements give you the clue. The hockey rink in SL01685 conveys Sports Romance. The wolf in SL01051 clearly says Paranormal Romance.
So in this case, the man chest indicates your book is some sort of romance—or erotica, for that matter. Additional elements can provide clues to sub-genres.
Once you understand the purpose of your premade book cover, and the elements necessary—at least as far as images go, I’ll cover typography in another post—you’ll be able to decide for yourself if a specific premade book cover is worth it.
There are hundreds of websites with book covers for sale, and some of them are cheap. But basing a decision on the cost alone is not in your best interests. If you can find cheap or inexpensive premade book covers that also do what your cover is supposed to, well, that’s a different story.
The premade book covers here at CoveredPages.com are inexpensive. More importantly, they’re created by someone who’s been in the publishing game since 2006. My covers are a different creative outlet, and a nice side hustle when I need a break from writing.