Something fun arrived in the mail the other day: a package from Spencer Hill Press containing a paperback I designed the cover for! I hadn’t expected to receive a copy so it was a fun surprise and gave me a chance to show the kiddies what I do at the computer “making pictures” all day.
Here’s me—or rather, my hand—holding Angela Townsend’s Amarok. Congrats to Angela on the release of her new novel!
I’ve decided to write a real post tonight, rather than just putting up one of my usual cover reveals, because there’s something I want to address. Several of my online friends have been having trouble lately with their cover artists. In some cases the artists they’ve hired have taken their money and failed to produce the product or haven’t produced it in a timely manner. Their artists have gone incommunicado, failing to respond to emails, failing to deliver refunds, or generally behaving in a dishonest or unprofessional (read: flakey) manner. I don’t personally know the artists involved and am happy to say the artists and authors I’ve worked with have been, almost without exception, very honest and easy to deal with.
But I do want to share some brief tips and warnings here for authors considering engaging an unfamiliar cover artist. There are no “rules” on the subject but these are things I’ve personally found helpful to ensure a smooth and pleasant experience for everyone.
1 . Never pay an artist the entire fee up front. Most professional cover artists are accustomed to a half-in-advance, half-on-completion split and very few request the full payment before any work has been done. If an artist does ask for the full payment before getting started, let them know that isn’t an acceptable arrangement for you. This isn’t being rude, it’s good business sense when purchasing something from a stranger online, and the artist will understand that.
2 . I recommend using PayPal, not Western Union or a similar service for transferring funds. PayPal offers 45 day purchase protection in some circumstances, meaning in the event of a dispute with your artist, you stand a better chance of getting your money reimbursed.
3 . If your artist doesn’t respond to an email from you, follow up repeatedly. Don’t wait weeks or months before attempting to contact them again, as this runs out the above mentioned protection and decreases your likelihood of getting a refund if one is needed.
4 . Communicate. If the mock-ups your artist is sending you aren’t remotely what you requested, let them know this (in a polite way) and discuss alternatives. Don’t be unreasonable in your expectations but do expect the artist to be flexible and willing to work to come up with something that better fits your vision. Good artists understand covers are intensely important to authors, not least because they can impact the sales of a book.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Good night all and be careful out there. I promise to post about a more cheerful subject next time. ;)