How do you feel about expensive cover art?

I’m an Episode writer and reader who has been around since the days of Campus Crush and Real Hollywood. Not to sound too old but back in my day cough I swear I’m too young to say that cough most cover art was hand made or didn’t require much editing. Now I see commissions for beautiful work, but I don’t know how I feel about paying $100+ for a cover for a story I’ll never make money off of, or if the story has CC the character won’t even look like the art. Despite this, 99% of the trending stories have some sort of digital art and I can’t help but think maybe I should get commissioned art as well.

Readers: Would you read a story that had bad editing/cover art? Is that a deal-breaker?

Writers: Do you buy expensive cover art in hopes you’ll get more reads? Does it work?

General: Do you think a story can trend without detailed cover art?

I’m curious to hear other opinions!


My story ‘Foul Play’ has always had covers that I edited, up until November [just gone]… and those edited covers didn’t hurt my story one bit! The story still managed to gain 300K reads without a digital art cover.
I do have an art cover for it now, though. But that art has only been up for 6 months and although the reads have now increased beyond 400K, the rate that the reads have gone up is around the same rate as it was 6 months ago when my edited covers were still in place.
[Maybe there’s been a slight increase, in comparison to before… but since the horror genre isn’t a popular one, honestly the cover makes no difference.]

So… as long as your cover edits are good, I doubt an edit would put readers off. :blush:

For me: a good summary along with a great first Episode, is way more important than whether a story has an art scene cover, or not.


Im keeping this short and simple

A good cover is more likely to catch my attention, meaning there is a better chance I will read it. If there were two stories and story A had a better cover than story B, I would click on story A first. Although the summary is also important too.

I paid a total of 70 bucks for two covers and they’re beautiful! A nicely drawn cover might make you gain more reads, just because it’s the first thing you see. Although, you should never judge a book by its cover.

There’s a lot of stories that are trending that have edited/not the best art (or at least not as eye-catching)

There’s a lot of artists who make quality art that’s cheaper than 100. I felt hesitant about spending so much on my covers, especially since it’s my first story. I dont regret it one bit though. :sweat_smile:


I don’t think it’s a “deal breaker” but to me if someone is willing to get a nice cover (and I am including good free edited covers in this blanket statement too) it also probably means they’re willing to put in more effort for the story.

I think the most I’ve spent on a cover has been around $100 but I wouldn’t say it helps or doesn’t help. My first contest winning story had a cover I edited in canva (I think it was canva :eyes:) and that story while it does have a professionally drawn cover now had mostly covers I edited until then and it’s still my best performing story.

Now, I think it’s important to talk about the community here for a second. This was in early 2020. The competition due to gems wasn’t really a thing so now, yes, I’d say get professional art done because you’re going to want to put yourself as far up the ladder as you can.

I kind of answered this with the last question, but now?? I don’t know. Two years ago I would have told you absolutely you can, but now I do think having good art can give you a bit of a boost.


Congrats on 400k+ reads, that’s amazing! And yeah, that’s definitely interesting to note because it’s in the horror genre. I definitely agree with your last points!

That’s a great point that nice cover usually means a well-thought out story. I think a cover, along with a good chapter summary, and spot/zoom/overlay directing can really turn a good story into a great one.

And yes for sure, gems have definitely changed the game! I’m on Episode on and off and I was so confused when I found out about them lol. Regardless, I do think commissioned art is gorgeous and love seeing how much Episode has changed over the years. Thanks for your input!

  1. As a reader, no it does not affect me whether the story uses an edited cover or a digital art produced by digital artist. The latter definitely makes the story appealing, but I don’t judge a book by its cover (literally) and as beautiful as the assets may be, if the story is getting nowhere it usually gets kicked off my library.

  2. As a writer (a low budget writer), I edit my own stuff. Every art asset I have, including the cover is sort of edited by me, with various royalty free assets out there added to it.
    I can tell you that digital art covers are receiving way more popularity (totally not saying that it’s overrated lol), but for good causes because it’s simply more appealing from face value.

  3. Yes, it definitely can. In fact, it should. Stories are defined by its content not their cover. Even if you spend 100$ for an art cover, the assets within the story is the same as other 0$ budget author’s. It’s up to the content of the story to live up to the cover’s expectations.
    But if you want your story to be more popular off the bat, digital art can give you the boost you need. It’s down to your budget, which for a broke author like me (TT) I could only afford to make it myself via gimp.


bad, yeah wouldn’t read, edited, no its fine.

No, but I am an artist.

lets be fair, even with an amazing cover its dang hard to trend. but yeah it can. if the author put in the work.

books covers are expensive, The most common range on published books seems to be $250-500
and that is for book covers there look something like this

if you dont wanna pay for cover dont buy one, after all that seem to be most authors’ here’s opinion, like legit almost every day someone ask for a free cover on the story they spend two minutes on. because they cant afford it.

you can find cheap affordable artist. many commission art is 25 dollars. there is cheaper, and there is more expensive.

It’s going to sound weird but I get turned away from a story when it has really fancy art. Seeing edited covers gives it a more down to earth appeal which makes me want to click on it.


100% disagree, some people cannot afford to buy art covers… and others don’t have the greatest editing skills. But that doesn’t make their stories any better or worse than those with a beautiful art scene cover… and it certainly doesn’t mean that they “put in less, effort”, than those who do have art covers. I’m sorry… I just cannot wrap my head around what you said there, I mean… what kind of false statement is that?!

On plenty of occasions I’ve noticed stories with stunning art scene covers… but the “effort” [writing and directing wise] that you claim will be there, isn’t. And vice versa!
Whether the effort is there and whether the story is good is solely dependent on the author themselves… not what their cover looks like!


Exactly this… :clap:t3: This is so brilliantly explained.

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I don’t think you need amazing editing skills. I was mostly talking about stories that either don’t have a cover period or ones that were very clearly thrown together haphazardly. Also, skill levels are different for everyone so I wouldn’t compare the editing skills of someone editing for 1 week to someone doing so for 2 years. It’s a constant learning process.

I mostly based my statements around what I’ve personally noticed by doing R4Rs and G4Gs. Just because my experience on this app and in this community is different from yours doesn’t really mean anything.

Did I say this was the case 100% of the time? :eyes:

Also, there are literally people who do edits and will edit covers for people.

As a writer, each of my episode stories (released and currently unreleased) have drawn art covers, but I will say that you absolutely do not need to spend $100 + for a cover. Depending on the style you like, Instagram is flooded with amazingly talented artists who don’t charge lots for their work. (if you decide to go this route and would like a list of the artists that I’ve had the pleasure to commission, then just ask and I’ll be happy to link you their Instagrams, along with any other art accounts I could recommend for you.)
The reason that I wanted to go down the art-cover route is just that it’s my preference. I saw lots of pretty artwork on the app and wanted my story to have an artsy cover. It was as simple as that lol. I think the main reason that most of the trending stories have digital art covers (I’m not certain as I rarely search through the trending section for stories to read on the app) is because they are usually written by the more well-known authors who have large followings and tend to pay for commissioned covers.

From a reading perspective, if I see four stories next to one another, and one is a digital art cover, my eye will usually be drawn to that more, but it’s still the description that needs to hook me. If the description doesn’t stand out or have anything to entice me to read it, I don’t start it.

However, same scenario, out of the four, if they were all edits of different capabilities, I would always be drawn to a well-edited cover from among them, I mean clean and tidy lines, a nice font, a good colour scheme… In general, something which captures the vibe of the story, giving you a hint of what it’s about before you click on the description.

The types of covers which make me more likely to avoid the story are ones that are screenshots taken from the previewer, which still have the boxes along the side… ones which have been cropped untidily, still having the white outline around the characters, or aren’t clear/badly pixelated or over-zoomed so the character’s features aren’t clear… or covers where the characters take up a tiny space in comparison to the background. These covers just lack the element to draw attention, and whilst I know many people don’t know how to edit themselves, or cannot afford to buy art from someone, the untidy edits aren’t very eye capturing and have the potential to leave an audience member wondering if similar unpolished things would carry over to the story, and on an app which is very visual, that’s less appealing.

There are lots of people on the forums who will make edited covers, and they are free. I did see one a while back (can’t remember the creator, but I think it was on a contest thread where I saw it) but they’d done a fantastic job, and the cover really captured the genre and had me wanting to read the story when it came out.

I think that the most important thing to remember is that you just need to do what feels right for you. Whether that’s buying art, or getting someone to edit you something, then browse for the right person for the job. Don’t just settle on whoever happens to be free and end up with something that you’re not happy with. There are hundreds/thousands of stories on the app and standing out from the crowd is a big perk, but to do that doesn’t need to cost anything if you get a good editor and have a damn good description.


I know this won’t be the case for everyone, but don’t forget that some people may be too shy or have social anxiety. Those people wouldn’t dare to approach another person to ask for a cover edit… even if the editors make the offer openly. And therefore they can only rely on themselves to do their covers.

I personally struggle with social anxiety and anxiety in general… so I know a little too well just how awkward and daunting it feels to ask anything of anyone, especially strangers. :woman_shrugging:t3:

You’re preaching to the choir here. :sweat_smile: I personally hate asking for “help” which is part of the reason why most of my covers I’ve used have been edited by myself. My skill levels for editing have improved over the years, but I’d still prefer a drawn cover over an edited one. It’s something I’ve just had to try and get used to as an author here.

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I prefer drawn covers [for my own stories] too, but I’m too much of perfectionist to accept just any kind of art. So it takes me a while to find artists that I like and can trust to perfect my characters right down to the last fingernail. [Yeah, I’m actually that fussy! :rofl: :joy: ]

As for the anxiety thing, that’s the main reason why I don’t even dare to ask review groups to review my stories… nor ask my followers to promote my stories for shelves or anything like that! It just doesn’t feel right doing so.
I can edit and do manipulation art edits for my covers, so I’ve no reason to ask anyone for edits. But I’d prefer a drawn one, every time.

I have a really great small cover (that’s the one they see on the shelves before they click on it, right???) edit that I got for free, and my story is (somehow) trending in sci-fi because of how Episode’s trending works. You don’t need to spend money to get wonderful edits!

that would actually be against the rules to take money for an episode edited art

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Oh yeah, that makes sense. Me is dum.

The point I was trying to make is that you can still get cool stuff on the forums for free!


I think that a well made edited cover will attract people to your story. I don’t think it’s a ‘rule’ that you have to have an expensive art cover or people won’t read it.
In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t read a story because the cover isn’t a hand-drawn masterpiece are the same people who leave fanmail saying “omg U sHoUlD aDd Cc EvEn iF cUlTuRe pLaYs a RoLe In Ur sToRy”. :roll_eyes:

That said, it also annoys me to see people asking for really detailed and beautiful art for free like they really don’t get how long it takes to do. If you can’t pay, that’s fine. Request on one of the dozens of “Free Art Shops” and be happy with what you get OR do it yourself.

My cover is hand drawn art but it’s because I won a giveaway-- If I hadn’t, no I wouldn’t have paid anyone and mine would have been an edit. I think the quality of a story matters far more than whether the cover is expensive or self-made edits.

I’ve seen several stories with edited covers make it to the trending section and there are several featured stories on shelves with edited covers as well. Write a good, well thought out story with interesting and multifaceted characters and promote like hell everywhere and people will read your story.