Successful Book Covers

What’s the number one mistake you see authors make with their book covers?

So this is a really smart question to ask, and I wish more authors thought to ask it. The answer is so important I wrote an entire article about it. It’s short and concise because we’re all busy. But you can read the answer here.

What do you think are the three most important ways to guarantee a successful book cover?

That’s a great question. I wrote a whole article on what successful sci-fi and fantasy book covers need. Check it out. 😉

How do I know if a specific premade book cover is right for my book?

A lot of authors buy a beautiful book cover for their story only to find out that it would only be great for a different book. Read up on how to avoid the ‘beautiful but wrong for you’ trap.

How important are book cover thumbnails?

Overwhelmingly important. Read more about what book thumbnails are and how to tell the difference between a good and a bad thumbnail.

What are the most common book cover pitfalls you see as a designer?

It’s a big market and there are a lot of things I see authors unknowingly do that hurt their chances of success. Whether you ultimately choose to DIY your cover, hire another designer, or hire me, sign up to my email list long enough to read this resource and save yourself from sabotaging your book.

Premade Covers

How do I purchase a premade cover from the shop?

You can purchase covers from the J. L. Wilson Designs Shop the same way most standard online purchasing is done. Simply add your selection to your cart, click ‘Proceed to Checkout’ to fill in your billing information, and click the checkbox indicating that you have read and will abide by the terms under which all J. L. Wilson Designs work is sold. This website uses Stripe and Paypal to securely process payments, so once you’ve entered your information and agreed to the terms, click ‘Place Order’. And that’s it. You’ve purchased your cover!

You can download the premade cover in its current form as soon as your payment has been processed. A lot of authors like to use this as inspiration until the final version is complete. Once you’re ready to send me the information I need to customized the text, just select a date on my calendar for me to update your premade and fill out the premade form here.

Why are some premade covers cheaper/more expensive?

I price my premades based on the quality of my current skill level, the time it takes to create them, the complexity of the cover, and the expense of the assets used in the cover. What this often means is that covers that involve more elements (especially those with more than one character) tend to be a bit more expensive to account for the additional time, skill, and effort needed to incorporate these additional elements. Every now and then though, a simpler cover will simply take me more time to create or a more complex cover will simply come together quickly. In those cases, the pricing will reflect that.

What if I want to purchase a premade cover, but don’t know the title/pen name/tagline yet?

Not a problem. Just add the premade to your cart and check out as normal. Once that’s done, the cover is yours. I’m happy to hold purchased premades indefinitely until you’re ready for them. Many authors grab premades that fit their story long before it’s ready for publication and others purchase premades that inspire them to write a story. I know good stories can take time, so rest easy knowing that your cover will be ready whenever you are. Until then, all covers are automatically backed up to two different secure cloud backup systems. When you’re ready to provide me with the information I need to customize your text, select a date on my calendar and submit the form here so I can update your cover for you.

How soon can I get a premade?

Premades are available for immediate purchase from the J. L. Wilson Designs Shop and can be downloaded in their current form after payment is processed. Once you submit your author name, title, and other necessary information after purchase, I will update and send the new version to you.

Custom Covers

What if I need a custom cover?

Not a problem. I offer a few types of custom covers. You can read up on the options here.

Can I commission art that’s not for a cover?

Yes, of course! The process is very similar to the custom cover process where you’ll fill in a questionnaire and schedule a slot on my custom order calendar. If you’re interested in purchasing one (or just have any questions about it), just let me know here and I’ll provide the information you need to purchase and schedule a calendar slot.


What if I need a print or audiobook cover?

Simple. Just purchase an additional character add-on for each extra character you want to include.

Can I get a textless image of a cover?

Sure. You can purchase a textless image add-on here in the J. L. Wilson Designs Shop at any time. Textless images can be used for promotional purposes.

What other types of add-ons are available?

If you’re looking for something besides a print/audiobook cover or character art, you can find most of the other available add-ons from here. If you don’t see what you’re looking though, don’t hesitate to message me here. I have a few other less frequently requested services I also offer.

After Purchasing

What can I do with the covers I purchase from J. L. Wilson Designs?

This depends on the licenses you purchase. By default, any J. L. Wilson Designs e-book cover can be used in its final version to sell an unlimited number of e-books and to promote the book. However, you’re not permitted to modify the cover or use the cover on other commercial merchandise besides the e-book unless additional licenses are purchased.

For example, if you purchase a print cover add-on, I’ll create a print cover for you so you can sell paperback books. If you purchase a merchandise license add-on, I’ll grant you a license to use the cover art on non-book merchandise (e.g. books, mugs, notebooks).

Can I sell commercial merchandise with your art?

If you’re interested in using my art on commercial merchandise beyond books (i.e. items like T-shirts, mugs, notebooks that you sell), this isn’t available as part of the default license, but you can purchase an additional license from me to permit this from here. This is the only fee you have to pay to sell commercial merchandise for many of my covers and art pieces since I often don’t use stock images that require purchasing an extended license to sell commercial merchandise.

For those times where I do use certain types of stock images, you will need to purchase extended licenses from the stock photo distributor in addition to my merchandise license to sell merchandise. Premade covers which use these types of stock photos will have a note on their product page, so you’ll know before purchasing if any stock photos like these were used in a cover.

For custom book covers, I assume that stock photos are fine to use unless the author indicates otherwise before I begin work..

IMPORTANT: All art is good for quality printing up to 9 inches in height at 300dpi (standard printing quality for a book cover). If you wish to print at a larger size, advanced warning is necessary before I begin work.

What are your policies for refunding, reselling, or cancelling?

All premade purchases are non-refundable and cannot be resold without advanced written permission from me. I rarely permit covers to be resold, but if there is someone who really wants to purchase it, then I will sometimes consider it.

For custom work, you are free to terminate the project at any time if you’re not pleased with how the project is going. I don’t offer refunds for previous payments (this is to compensate me for the work I have done up to that point), but you will not be required to make any further payments on the project and I will happily suggest other designers who might be a better fit. Note: Custom projects that are cancelled may be repurposed (with some details altered) to create other covers.

Do I have to give you credit on the copyright page?

I’m afraid so. Any book that uses a cover I designed has to provide designer credit to me on the copyright page. This is how many authors discover my work, which allows me to stay in business to serve you.

To give me credit for the design, just include the following on the copyright page in the front of your book:

Cover Design © J. L. Wilson Designs |

Should I submit a 1000-NEC or a 1099-MISC since I bought cover/art from you?

Short answer: No. Don’t submit a 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC. 🙂

More detailed answer with IRS links and exact verbiage explaining why you don’t submit a 1099-NEC or a 1099-MISC.

What do I need to know about the new KDP template generator?

KDP recently updated their print cover template generator, and after seeing some of the problems authors have had with it, I wrote an article to help you avoid those issues. You can read it here.

Turnaround Time

How long does it take you to complete [insert service]?

This depends on which service you’re ordering. As a general rule, I start all custom projects at the beginning of the month and send final files at the end of the month. Premade updates, print or audiobook cover extensions, and other add-ons like blank artwork, typography treatments take much less time.

If you’re under deadline and uncertain if I can complete your project in time, feel free to contact me here.

I do my best to stay punctual and meet deadlines, but if delays occur on your end (e.g. you’re unable to provide feedback for revision rounds promptly, there is missing information in your submitted form, invoices aren’t paid promptly), this obviously may delay the project. Similarly, circumstances may sometimes arise beyond my control (e.g. illness, an unusually high volume of orders). If unexpected delays crop up on my end, I will notify you by e-mail, so you’ll always know where we’re at in the process and when you might expect your files.

What if I need something faster than the default turnaround time?

Just send me a message here. If there’s room in my schedule, you can get a service completed faster for an additional fee.

Copyright, Contracts, and Words of Caution

Do I have to agree to the terms and conditions/sign a contract to purchase from J. L. Wilson Designs?

Yes. 🙂

I know terms and conditions/contracts can cause a lot of anxiety, but I spent a lot of time trying to create a contract that is clear, transparent, and easy to understand. It ensures that you know in advance exactly which rights you have if you purchase a cover from me and what will be expected of us both during the process.

It also protects me from clients operating in bad faith and lets you relax knowing that I’ll be held to a certain caliber of professionalism as well. You can read the default contract I work under on the Terms and Conditions page of the website here. These are the terms you will be agreeing to when you purchase anything from the J. L. Wilson Designs Shop or request any work from me. I want to be as transparent as I can be about what working with me entails, so that you can decide in advance whether I’m the right person for you.

Can I change anything about the contract/terms and conditions?

I’m afraid not. I have a standard contract I work under to protect you and me, and this contract can’t be changed. Please do contact me here if you have any questions about it though. The contract is designed to make the process a positive one for us both. I always want you to feel comfortable that you understand what you’re signing.

What does it mean when people say I’m licensing art? Don’t I own it once I pay?

This is a common misconception. A lot of authors who are new to purchasing book covers think they’re purchasing the copyright for the art itself and that they can then do whatever they want to do with the cover. That’s rarely ever the case in the cover art world.

I wrote a short article to answer the question in more detail here. 🙂

Where do you license the stock photos you use in your covers?

I use 3d models as the base for my covers. I do this in part to make it easier/less expensive for authors to use the artwork to sell their own merchandise if so desired, but also because I prefer the flexibility of 3d models. They’re far more customizable in terms of clothing, skin color, hair color/style, posing, and lighting than stock photos.

When I do use stock photos though, they usually come from DepositPhotos or NeoStock.

How can I tell if a cover I want uses copyrighted work illegally?

That’s a really good question, and one that a lot of authors don’t yet know to ask. I wrote a short article to better answer the question here.

What about places like Fiverr?

I’m actually in the process of writing up an article on this exact topic. While you can find legitimate artists on Fiverr, it’s just not a safe place to purchase a book cover from. It’s a well-known fact in the book cover designer community that at any given time you can find stolen book covers from dozens of reputable book cover artists listed on Fiverr as either being for sale by or as being created by a random Fiverr seller.

What’s worse, it is notoriously difficult to get a stolen cover taken down from the site. I’ve literally spent days at a time trying to get them to remove a cover I created from someone’s profile on there. Even with “A J. L. Wilson Designs Premade” written on the front of the cover and with me sending screenshots of the inside of the PSD file along with links to my official website from my official email (all with the domain name jlwilsondesigns), I’ve been unsuccessful.

Do authors sometimes get nice covers very cheaply from there? Sure. But I know a lot of authors who’ve had to pay for entirely new covers out of pocket because they then discovered that the cover was stolen. Or that the designer didn’t legally purchase the right to use some of the images in the cover. Or that the designer took the money and then delivered a much lower quality cover than the covers that were displayed on his profile (probably because that designer never actually created those covers).

Honestly, regardless of whether you treat your writing as a business or just for fun, it’s not worth the risk. Purchase your book cover from a reputable designer. They come in a wide range of prices that can fit any budget. Save yourself the regret and frustration of the designer disappearing before your second cover (these designers frequently disappear or just start new profiles when their original profile is removed for copyright theft) or not getting the quality cover you’d hoped for. Stick with someone authors you know recommend or someone who is well-known in the book cover designer community, such as those found here.


Do you have any discounts?

Yes! Current discounts are listed at the bottom of the page.

These discounts change every so often and are applied automatically in the shop, with the exception of discounts distributed through the J. L. Wilson Designs e-mail list. Those are only available to people who join my e-mail list.

How are book covers created?

If you’re new to purchasing covers, you may not realize just how many different ways there are to make a book cover, and what the methods used can mean for what you can do with the cover afterwards. I go into the most common methods used to create fantasy and science fiction book covers over here.

How do you make your book covers?

While every book cover is different, each starts with careful market research into the subgenre the cover is targeting. After brainstorming design concepts and choosing one, I create a 3d character render to serve as the base for the art, customized to fit my idea (for a premade) or the author’s book (for a custom).

I then bring the character into Photoshop where I use a mixture of renders, photos, and digital painting to create the look I want. Finally, I carefully select a genre-appropriate font and apply a professional title treatment to match the subgenre of the readers who’d be most interested in the story. If you look at the J. L. Wilson Designs Shop, you can see examples of my work.

What genres of book covers do you do?

I specialize in fantasy and some subgenres of sci-fi.