Tried and Tested: Can you make money creating book covers?

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” Will Rogers

Mr Fire and I are sort of obsessed right now about bringing in extra money! A new game we play leads very nicely into my tried and tested series strangely. Mr Fire often trawls the internet whilst bored being busy at work so he usually comes across a fair few ideas that people on the blogosphere are claiming have helped them either reach FIRE faster or is the equivalent of a lottery win (ahem…)

Our game is he finds them and I test them out. One he came across a good few months ago was creating book cover art work. I like to think i’m relatively creating once I get going and I have a weird love of PowerPoint so thought it would be fun to try.

Image result for stack of books

Designing book covers appealed to me as it meant its fairly passive once you’ve designed the cover and put it on the website.

What is it?

Quite simply you design a few book covers using your own images (copyright and all that!), register with a book cover website and upload it. You can use images from various free sites but its tricky as you will need a commercial licence in order to do so and if you want to get a credit put in their book that its your cover when its really from a free images site…..


Good design skills
Ideally be skilled in photography software IE Photoshop and InDesign (I am NOT)
Helps to be familiar with some of the free book cover desgin sites such as Canva, Postermywall ect…

Qualifications – these aren’t compulsory but every little helps
Some form of designing and/or computer qualification.
If your just doing this as a side hustle then there really is no need to go nuts but if your thinking of becoming a graphic design artist then you need to know your stuff and be qualified in it!

The legalities

If your using your own images then this isn’t really an issue as long as your aware that your giving your images away as soon as the sale comes through.

If your creating your book cover using a service like Canva, then it get a bit trickier. Just because you have created the book cover doesn’t mean you own the image and that copyright is still owned by the site (in this case Canva) and the the license is owned by the creator of the image. Many of the sites you can gather free images from have limitations around the licensing agreement that goes with the image. These can range from being a one time use limit or can be used as a promotional item as long as it isn’t to be sold, so giving it away is fine just don’t ask for anything in return!

Whilst you can buy difference licencing around it there are still limitations such as their images not being permitted to be used on adult content books.

The thing to remember with this is you can not transfer what you do not own. – Words to live by unless your happy getting 6 months to 10 years in a UK prison or an unlimited fine for copyright infringement.


Start Up Costs 

This can actually be nothing if you already own a camera (or you know a smartphone…..) Photoshop or something similar and sign up to use a site such as Canva to bring it all together. I’d like to point out I’m not getting anything for mentioning Canva so much! Its just what I used.

Running/ongoing costs
Again this is possibly zero as well! Yep I’ve found a side hustle thatis free to start and free to run! I’m sure some people can argue time is money (opportunity cost and all) but I’m happy to go with zero since I have no idea what everyone would be doing with their time.

Work out how much you will charge
I’ve tested this one out as the site I signed up with was The Book Cover Designer. Its free to have a seller account and the books on their range from $15 (just under £12) up to $600! (just over £460) The site actually take a whopping 30% commission for selling/marketing your book cover though so include that in the price!

How to promote
You don’t! of course you can if you wish but if your paying a 30% commission I’d let the site do it for me! If you’d like to promote yourself then you could start with a blog that way if your successful at selling your book covers you can move them off the website and sell them yourself from your own website avoiding the commission (but picking up web hosting and domain name fees which are MUCH less!)

Case Study
As soon as I came off the phone with Mr Fire a few months back when he told me this idea I launched into action. I (barely) learned Photoshop, signed up for Canva and went out taking pictures. It took me a good few hours to set everything up (new email, book shop name ect…) but after two days of checking and nit picking I submitted my covers in eagerly awaiting to see them listed on the site!

The Math:

Here are the start up and annual running costs:

Item Cost Recurring Total Cost per year
Photoshop Licence £7.78 Y £93.36
Canva or book making website £0.00 N
Phone you already own £0.00 N
Total start up cost £7.78
Annual Running cost £7.78

Here’s the income:

Items Sale Price  Commission Fee Profit
1 book cover £23.34 £7.00 £16.34
2 book covers £46.68 £14.00 £32.68
3 book covers £93.36 £28.00 £65.36
4 book covers £186.72 £56.00 £130.72
Income per month £245.10 Minus running costs £237.32

I’m estimating selling at $30 and assuming I’d sell four book covers a month and aiming to put twenty up a month so after a few months I wont put any input into the book covers unless my stock get low.

My Experience

As I said I’ve tried this. It didn’t take a huge amount of time book still took quite a bit of work on my part (designing, photography, Photoshop free trial sign up…) I was quite proud of my work (it wasn’t amazing to say the least but wasn’t similar to a school child’s drawing!) I submitted my designs and waited the 48 hours the site said to took to approve. I heard nothing back from them and my designs still hadn’t been uploaded. A week later still nothing. I couldn’t even log into my account at this point as it said my account was blocked following too many log in attempts (maybe I was checking it too often) I emailed them and waited another week. Finally I got a response

 it hasn’t been approved as it falls under the category of stock photos with minor alterations, which against the vendor terms

Should I have been happy as my photo was so good it looked like a stock image? I was actually really disappointed. I would have loved to have given it a proper go to see if it did make money as in theory its really easy!

I’ve been trying to get into my account (STILL 4 months later!) So I could show you the cover if anyone is interested let me know!

Is it worth it?
I’m still fairly keen to give it a go even though my first experiencing wasn’t great I did enjoy designing the book covers, imaging what the title could be.

I don’t know of any other book cover design websites to sell on that would be the first thing to work on.

Image result for stack of books

I’m keen to keep the series going so please let me know if you have any income ideas that sound too good to be true!

5 thoughts on “Tried and Tested: Can you make money creating book covers?

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