Posted by: ~ Me ~ | October 14, 2012

Dealing With Cover Artists

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. 😉



  1. Wow! I shocked that people can be so unethical in their work practices. 😦

    • I think unfortunately people get in over their heads sometimes and don’t realize how much work the design business can be. Then life intervenes, they have personal or family problems, and rather than informing clients they need to take a hiatus after finishing all pending orders or refunding payments made, they simply vanish, taking the money with them. This is why it’s important to have a plan in place and a family member prepared to step in and handle client notifications/refunds in the event of an emergency.

      Of course, there are also people who intentionally set out to run a scam and I can’t even guess what goes on in their heads.

      • Communication is big. If they can’t communicate with clients then they shouldn’t be in the business. It’s sad that people scam others that way, 😦

  2. Unfortunately, PayPal only enforces refunds for items not received that are tangible. Services such as a cover / graphic design would never be refunded by PayPal. Let’s just say I had to learn that the hard way. 😦

    “13.3 Ineligible Items. PayPal Purchase Protection only applies to PayPal payments for certain tangible, physical goods. Payments for the following are not eligible for reimbursement under PayPal Purchase Protection: Intangible items, including Digital Goods, Services…” Protection for Buyers.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that, Jas. I’ve heard of people getting refunds for this but it does look like PayPal has changed their policy. That’s unfortunate, since people get cheated by providers of digital goods and services the same as with material items. 😦

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