best-book-cover-designers-alexander-von-ness-AWell, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. I spent some necessary time doing writing-related things that have simply consumed my every waking moment, it seems. I was able to release a book, convert two books, Blood Land and Money Land, to audiobook format with a tremendously talented producer, retool an entire series of covers, and (most crucially) make it through the holiday season and winter months without jumping off a tall building.

I figured it was time to get back to blogging, as I’ve missed it (and perhaps a few of you out there have missed me—if not, that’s okay; I forgive you). So what better way to start off Rob on Writing 2015 than to tell all you Indie authors about a gem of a discovery I made a few months back, when I really needed to!

The-Hidden-AMy Denver Detective Bobby Mac Thriller series has long been in need of cover retooling. I made the three covers myself and, while I don’t think they were terrible, they really needed that professional look to them (I think most of you know exactly what I mean when I say “professional”—as if the book could be sitting there right next to any NYT Bestseller book and fit right in).

Problem is, I am still independent, paying for everything myself, living off sales and returning everything else back into the marketing, promotion, etc. of all my books. So I can’t afford to spend four figures on a cover. I do have a cover designer I use, that I know many writer friends use, and I have always been more than happy with his work. I just happen to be a believer in changing things up every once in a while.

ebook-cover-designer-alexander-von-ness-LGaWell, while I was working on my third James Pruett Mystery, Honor Land, I was doing my “social media cleanup”, accepting some connections on LinkedIn. One of the professionals with whom I connected sent me a “thank you” response and simply offered me his creed for what?

Designing book covers “on STEROIDS.”

Ahem. Well, I’m not the type to follow every link I’m sent—in fact, I’ll admit it: I am anti-soliciting, for the most part. It’s not unlike those friends we all have that send every—single—joke, via email or Facebook or Twitter. Everything.

Beyond-Abuse-AI am the kind of consumer (of books covers as well as humor) who is particular about where I visit, what jokes I share (I am that guy, as many of you know, who—if you get a joke from me—you check it out. Why? Because I send/post them rarely). Also, when was the last time I promoted anyone or anything to you, dear reader? Rarely, if ever.

That said, I sensed something about this professional cover designer. Call it a gut feeling. Cops don’t have a stranglehold on the gut; writers have gut feelings, too! And I believe things happen for a reason. So I went to his webpage.

Hello, Alexander von Ness and Nessgraphica!

Holy cannoli. Wow. The quality I saw there had me both elated and totally disconcerted. I almost closed the browser window. I immediately thought—no, knew—“Not a chance I am going to be able to afford this guy.”

But I stayed. And how happy am I that I did?

Full cover price (Front, Back, Spine)?


Digital (front only)?


Did I mention how good the covers were? Oh, right, I have been including them throughout this post. That’s right—if you hadn’t already figured it, all the covers I put on here are covers designed by von Ness.

Alien-ALook, I am a loyal guy. Almost to a fault. But as I mentioned before, I do believe in changing things up every few cycles. Otherwise, we can get stale. Our products can become tired and fade into the background. Here’s a message from Nessgraphica’s site:

Let me design your BOOK COVER. Let me design your SUCCESS. I am putting your book cover on STEROIDS and pushing you above your competitors!

It was that last part that got to me. It described the look of his covers (and matched exactly the definition I had previously held for “professional”-looking book covers).

They DO leap above the competition’s covers.

So why would I share? Because when I started out on this journey, a lot of Indie writers who were already “in the game” helped me. I learned that “writers helping writers” should be the Indie Golden Rule. I have also come to understand that there are enough readers for us all, even within the same narrowed-down genre. Books are not like cars, or washers & dryers, or houses. People don’t purchase them every five to ten years.

They read a book every few days—some, a book a day!

The monster must constantly be fed! Therein lies the beauty of it all. Still, marketing is a tricky, sticky business. Only those who take the time to make their product jump off the shelf will be consumed. That’s always been the rule. We all wish readers wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s ALL they do at first. If a cover looks plain, uninteresting, or even “okay”, it’s probably not going to be purchased. There are too many choices out there. Yes, our product is fairly disposable, but in this new age, readers have become very choosy. Even at just a few bucks—less than their morning Starbucks latte.

A book needs to scream out “READ ME!” It needs to yank the reader’s gaze off the other books on the page.

I honestly believe that is what Alexander von Ness ( gives every single cover he creates. Here is more of his attitude toward partnering with the writer and helping him or her have great success:

Book Covers on Steroids
UNLIMITED changes + No stock image fees
You ONLY pay for the work when you are 100% HAPPY!

I have been working with Alexander for several months now. Below is a comparison of my three covers before and after. But that’s not the best thing. Well, it is, but there is something else: Alexander is the nicest professional I’ve met in the industry so far! What he said above? Unlimited changes, only paying when YOU are 100% happy with every detail? It’s true. Sometimes I think he cares more about my covers than I DO! And that’s what I want in a professional (especially one with undisputed talent).


Check out his page. Surf around; look at his portfolio, books he’s recently done, and covers currently under design. And if you decide you want to have him do a cover (or more), respond to the blog here and I will add your email address to a list of writer friends to whom I am mailing a special code later today to save $100 off a full cover and $50 off a front-only.

That’s $395 for a full and only $295 for a front-only!

If not, no worries. I get it. I’m loyal, and I don’t particularly care for change. I hate it when someone moves my cheese. But the point of my blog is to talk about writing-related topics, and more importantly it is to share things I find that I believe in my heart can help you as a writer.

INKvNEWx500_w_shadingI’m also going to do my part to help Alexander, because that’s how paying things forward works: we help those who are really talented become noticed, and they help us right back. In that spirit, I am going to give away a free copy of my book on writing, INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book. It’s a chiseled-down version of what I believe to be the eight most important things I’ve talked about on this blog when it comes to tightening up your manuscript and making it sing. If you use the deal to get a cover from Alexander, I will also send you the book. (BTW, no, Alexander didn’t make that cover; I did (and a collective WHEW is heard in the rafters).

So again, if you’re interested, comment here (I’m the only one who can see your email) and tell me if you want the comment live or not. I will make sure you’re added to the “deal” email and if you’re too late for that (because I am sending that later today), I’ll send it to you individually!

And if you don’t take advantage, I still wish each of you tremendous success. Because we can all have it.

And because I believe in you as writers.


The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.



6 Responses to Can An Indie Afford A Truly Professional Cover?

  1. I would like the savings code, but I already have that Ink book so don’t send me that. I guess I haven’t been paying attention. I just realized this Rob was that guy on twitter.

  2. S.J. Francis says:

    Great points made here! Thanks so much for sharing! Cheers! S.J. Francis.

  3. L. Moon says:

    Covers really are important and they are also affordable. You’ve found a great designer glad you are happy with him.
    I am one of the people who missed your posts 🙂

    • rsguthrie says:

      Thanks, Leslie. I feel like Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting when Will says “I read your book.” The doc replies “So you’re the one.” 🙂

  4. Danielle van der Wiel says:

    Good afternoon,

    I have been researching Alexander von Ness and appreciated your remarks. It may already be too late, but if possible I would like a copy of yr Ink book and a ‘savings code’, in case I move forward with him. No problem, if this is not possible. Thanks again for your input. Best regards. Danielle

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