Do Book Cover Artists Get Royalties?

There are so many outlets you can sell your art for an income. One way you can make money as an artist is by becoming a book cover artist. But does this income come at a flat fee, or do you get royalties?

Most of the time, book cover artists get a flat fee for their work. This industry is competitive, and many authors don’t make enough from their novels to allow royalties.

Now there are ways to get royalties for your book covers, but most of the time, there is just a flat fee for the work. Here is everything you need to know.

Do Book Cover Artists Get Royalties?

You can earn a decent work income by selling book covers to authors and publishers. If you are just entering this industry, you will receive a flat fee for any project. Don’t worry. You get to set the price.

Most cover artists charge several hundred dollars for their covers and any fees for alterations the author requests. You can even premake your book covers and sell them on websites where authors go to find something for their books. They may request some changes but usually nothing drastic.

Once an author purchases your book cover, you won’t see any other income because it is a flat fee. That author now owns that work, and you have no rights over it.

Why Is It a Flat Fee?

You may be wondering why book covers are a flat fee and not something based on how much work goes into the creation of the book cover.

The reason book covers are a flat fee is due to how competitive the book industry is. There is no promise of success, so often, an author may not sell enough to earn an income that would give royalties.

This doesn’t mean you can’t earn royalties, but books often may not sell or just not have the revenue to offer this as an income. Usually, you sign a contract rendering your work as theirs now for one lump sum. This also protects you if the book does not do well.

How Can I Earn Royalties?

You can earn royalties from your work. You don’t have to settle for selling the book cover and never getting anything from it ever again. You can draw up a contract that gives you a certain percentage of the sales.

Each client will be different. Some clients will not be able to give royalties and will want to be charged one payment. But if you are working with a well-known author or publisher, it may be better to ask for royalties.

How to Ask for Royalties

It can be nerve-racking to bring up royalties rather than a one-time payment, but open communication is key. Your clients will not know what you want unless you tell them exactly what it is.

Create a base contract that you both can go over. Some authors may want to go the royalty route. Having a base contract drawn up can only help you move the process along, and you can edit it after discussing it with your client.

What Should I Ask For?

Determining what you should charge can be intimidating. You don’t want to ask for too much, but you don’t want to ask for too little.

Here are some general ideas of what to charge for when you are making a contract for royalties:

  • Ask for 10% or more on ebooks because there are no printing costs.
  • You can request an advance or deposit for the project (this can be for reassurance just in case the sales aren’t good).
  • Hardcover books should be the least in percentage due to printing costs.
  • A contract can cover the entire series of a book or just the first book in a series.
  • Ensure the contract covers the book’s entire printing run with your cover.

Advancement within the contract can help you begin the project and will cover you if the book does flop. Sometimes this happens even with large publishers and books with prospects. These are great, especially when it is a new and upcoming author.

If you are working with a bigger publisher or well-known author, you can ask for more royalties, but it doesn’t always mean they will stay with you. But don’t be afraid to ask for what you believe you deserve.


Being a book cover artist is not easy. You have to have the courage to ask for what you want, whether you want that flat fee or royalties from book sales. You may not always get what you want, but you will never know until you ask.