Five years ago, I had a job interview at a small but spunky web startup called Fiverr. The discussion went really well until she asked me a simple but tough question:
“Are you willing to work startup hours?”
With a couple of small kids at home, I had to respond: “Not really.” (If you want to know what they meant by ‘startup hours,’ you can see for yourself my novel Ms. Communications, which is set in a startup.)
I was disappointed not to get that job because I fell in love with Fiverr and I had a feeling they were going to be huge. And five years on, they are the world-wide marketplace where services are outsourced in tiny bites for chump change.
Even though I wasn’t willing to give them a pound of my flesh, I am still one of Fiverr’s biggest fans and have used their services over and again.
Of course, some of the “gigs” on Fiverr are dodgy. Like the offers to sell you thousands of Facebook fans and backlinks. Just. Say. No. (Can you tell I’m speaking from experience?) But many others are incredibly useful.
For example, there are hundreds of gigs offering book cover design. I’ve used this many times, for myself and for clients.
This is the first cover I made with them – close to four years ago.
(I took that book off Amazon when it got out of date. I only sold about 33 copies – probably because I priced it a $8.99!)
I got lots of good feedback on that cover and other covers I’ve made on Fiverr, but plenty of people have told me that they were disappointed with poor quality services. So I’d like to save you some heartache by sharing with you exactly how I work with this platform to create good book covers:
Step 1: Decide what you want.
Don’t be like the guys in this comic.
If you go into Fiverr with no clue what you want your cover to look like, I guarantee you will receive utter garbage in exchange for your five bucks. These hard-working designers don’t have time to get creative, so don’t expect them to come up with great ideas for you all by themselves. That’s your job. Go over to Amazon and find three book covers that you absolutely love and you want something similar for yourself. Share these with your designer.
Step 2: Choose your own stock photography
If you want an image on your cover, you should pick it yourself and get it to your Fiverr designer. Don’t leave it to them to pick the graphics, unless you want an image that makes no sense whatsoever for your book. I bought the cartoon image for my latest cover on Shutterstock for $10. You can get even cheaper images on Creative Market or Pond5. Some Fiverr designers have subscriptions to stock photo sites and will let you pick an image through them.
Step 3: Pick a designer who has good covers in their portfolio
If you see something there you like, you can ask for something similar. This is a great way to ensure a good result. Resist the temptation to upgrade your gig and buy the extras, like the 3d version and the psd source files. It’s better to buy these at the end, after you’re satisfied with the final result.
Step 4: Give specific Instructions in simple English
Your designer will quite likely be single mother working out of a mud hut in Bangladesh, so have mercy on her and make her job as easy as possible. Tell it to them like they’re five years old. Specify what colors, font sizes, image placement you want. Even better, make an amateur mockup of what you want or explain it in a screencast. I even picked my own chick lit palette on colorlovers and sent it to them. Put everything in point form so they don’t miss anything. Leave nothing to the imagination. Just tell them what you want, for cryin’ out loud.
Step 5: Expect Ugliness
The first version you get is unlikely to be the book cover of your dreams. Carefully explain to them the changes you need. Most sellers are amazing about doing revisions. They really want their five smackers already and they don’t get it until you approve their work.
Step 6: Throw Garbage in the Garbage
If you find that your Fiverr designer is doing a lousy job and you absolutely hate the cover, just approve their work and start again with another designer. You can ask for a refund and you will probably get it, but I’m sure a soft-hearted person like you would never dream of doing that. As long as they “tried,” your designer deserves their five bananas. For my novel, I actually hired two designers right off the bat and gave them identical instructions. Then I paid off the one , and kept going with the one whose work I preferred. This saved time.
To see the gig I eventually used, click here.
In general, it’s good not to have high expectations. The amazing thing about Fiverr is how often you’re pleasantly surprised by the quality and service.
This is the cover for my book that I finally settled on with my Fiverr designer:
I don’t actually think my cover is so amazing but it’s good enough. I come from an entrepreneurial mindset and I take it for granted that no one gets anything right the first time around. Therefore, I aim to fail as fast and as cheap as possible.
For my first cover, I am very happy with “good enough.” I will hire a pro designer for hundreds of dollars to redo it once I have learned this business better and I know exactly what I need to do to improve.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, write them in the comments below.
Myra Kendrix is a veteran marketer and web entrepreneur who recently published her chick-lit debut, Ms. Communications, an outside-the-box, romantic novel set in a startup in Sydney, Australia