I have great admiration for many book designers out there. Who doesn’t appreciate high-quality design, right? Unfortunately, there’s also a growing number of designers whose work I don’t appreciate. I call them the “fake book cover designers.” I have given them this title because they’re like fake purses or watches: they look like the real thing but they lack the most important part—quality. They’re often shallow and want to get away with less work for more money. Sometimes, they’re even dishonest about their design capabilities and experience.

So how do you spot a fake book cover designer? I have been noticing more and more authors getting scammed by these fake designers. To help avoid being tricked, I’ve created the following list. I hope it helps you easily spot a fake book cover designer before it’s too late. Here goes my list, in no particular order.

A fake book cover designer…

  • is extremely and incredibly low-priced. It takes time to design an original book cover from scratch. If you find a designer who offers book covers for $5, be very cautious, they’re probably using random, poorly designed templates.
  • doesn’t ask questions—and if they do, they aren’t the right ones.
  • may not speak English well enough to express her thoughts clearly or understand yours.
  • is not modest.
  • is not patient.
  • uses design terminology that sounds like nonsense to non-designers. By contrast, a true designer takes the time and makes the effort to explain the technical details of a design project.
  • becomes confrontational in situations that could be settled amicably.
  • is slow to respond or
  • talks a lot about money and fees.
  • might use pirated graphic design software.
  • is not forthcoming about the graphic resources she uses.
  • uses design styles that are inconsistent or unnecessary or fonts that are generic or otherwise “boring”.
  • uses images from Google, screen wallpapers, copyrighted photos, or random images snatched from blogs or other online articles.
  • uses fonts that are not licensed for commercial use and hides that information.
  • doesn’t provide you with a copy of the original artwork.

Final Thoughts

These fake book cover designers make the entire graphic design community look bad. They also bring trouble to you, the client. I’ve had many authors ask me to fix amateur book covers they’ve purchased from these so-called fake designers. Sadly, they had to pay twice just to fix a dreadful design in order to get what they wanted in the first place. So make sure you spot the fake book cover designers and weed them out before investing your valuable time and money.

How about you? Have you had an experience with a “fake book cover designer”? If so, did you end up using a professional designer to fix the cover? Do you have any additional cues to help spot a fake designer? Would love your input!