Book cover complete: My experience with crowdSPRING

Now that I have money to pay for a designer to craft a quality book cover (thanks to Kickstarter – see this post for detail), I was ready to get an artist.

Artists are expensive.

This is not a complaint – people should get paid what they’re worth. I just mean that book cover design is a specialty profession requiring not only artistic ability, but specialized technical skill in publishing and layout design, which means it costs money.

When I first started down the route to have someone else create my book cover, here are some standard prices (all are accurate, though I’ve kept the names private because I don’t know if the artists I approached want this information made public):

Artist 1: Will produce a very realistic, excellent quality, custom painting for the book cover of consisting of just about anything I want. He is the cover artist for a fairly popular children’s book series. Price: $2500.

Artist 2: An artist who is completely self-employed with their artistic skillset, and they do a lot of custom graphic design, specializing in book covers. This artist does a lot of design work for self-published authors, and the results are the kind of work you see when you walk into a book store. Price: $1500.

Artist 3: The art wasn’t this person’s day job, but the artwork was excellent. They had done a several book covers. Price: $1000.

…and I should mention that of all these artists, they had long lead times (meaning it might take weeks or months to finish) and that the quoted prices were their average, but each one could go up by another $500 to $1000, depending on the project.

All of the above is why I signed up for crowdSPRING.

What is crowdSPRING?

crowdSPRING is a collection of “creatives” – designers and artists and people who are all way better at creating book covers than me.

crowdSPRING provides the talent network, financial transactions, and the logistic and legal project management structure from start to finish. I (as the buyer) provide the project and the payment.

It’s a competition – I post a project, state what I’m willing to pay for that project, give details on what I want, then I watch the results roll in from any interested “creatives”. In my case, my project was about average for the amount of people participating: 17 artists submitted book cover concepts, and there were 65 total covers submitted (some were slightly changed versions of earlier submissions). Here is a thumbnail view of some of what I received. Click to enlarge slightly:

What does crowdSPRING cost?

It’s a bit of a sliding scale, depending on how much you’re willing to award for your project. In my case, here’s what it cost me:

Project award: $500
crowdSPRING fee: $75
Listing fee (non-refundable): $39
Advanced promotion: $99

In order to give out a $500 award, I had to pay a total of $713. In exchange, crowdSPRING gives me access to their network of creatives, the freelance artists and designers who compete to create what I want.

Was crowdSPRING worth it?

Yes, yes, very much yes. I love the service. However, I love crowdSPRING because of the creative talent it’s pulled together. Will that same level of talent be there tomorrow, or a year from now? Or when you start your own project? I certainly can’t guarantee that. However, crowdSPRING does have methods of tracking and rating various creatives, as well as providing portfolios of their past projects – ones in which they’ve won and didn’t win. You can browse this information free of charge, and I’d recommend doing so to make sure your expectations are met before you commit money.

With the above said, crowdSPRING also provides a money-back guarantee: If you’re not happy with the results, you can cancel the project, and lose nothing apart from the listing fee. So a failed project (for whatever reason) doesn’t mean you wasted a lot of project funds.

The short story: I used crowdSPRING to get a book cover designed by a great artist (many thanks to Darko Tomic!) and I’m very happy with the result.


Stay tuned for the final step in the publication process. In about a month, I’ll have a book!


  1. Scott Bockheim says:

    Nice cover! Can wait to read the book. 


  2. Monica says:

    crowdSPRING definitely seems to be an excellent resource for artists and artist-seekers alike!  Pass the word and thanks to Andy for finding them!

  3. Traditionally, design studios limit the number of revisions they perform so they can finish your project and take on another.

  4. This sounds great! Thanks for letting us know about this service. Nice cover, too.