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View Full Version : Self-Publishers - Step Two - Design Your Cover



dgaughran
04-21-2011, 12:08 PM
Hi all,

This is all part of a project to make this Self-Publishing forum a more useful place. We need lots of new threads on every aspect of this game. You can see a partial list on this thread: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/....php?p=6060403

Please feel free to add your thoughts below below.

Dave

STEP 2: DESIGN YOUR COVER

Let’s face it, everyone judges a book by its cover, so if you have a bad one, people may never read your story.

There are certain conventions in book design. Play with these at your peril. A reader selecting a title with a cartoon blonde in stilettos, overburdened with shopping bags, is not expecting free-form poetry.

If you set false expectations, your sales will suffer. George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series "A Song of Fire and Ice" nearly never got out of the blocks. For the first book of the series, "A Game of Thrones", the designer opted for something a little different (http://www.georgerrmartin.com/gallery/) (it's that awful silver one in the centre), and sales were muted.

His UK & Australian publishers went for a more traditional fantasy cover (http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/FrameBase?content=/en/imagegallery/imagegallery.shtml?images=http://pictures.abebooks.com/THOTH/1253436317.jpg), and the international success of the series convinced the publisher to stick with it. It has since sold 7 million copies worldwide. Design matters.

Every genre has their conventions, whether its science fiction (http://www.coroflot.com/ddoyle/Portfolio1/3), fantasy (http://www.dragonmount.com/forums/uploads/c74cf13310adc2ef8eb2be8800f9525d.jpg), detective novels (http://www.classiccrimefiction.com/chandlerart.htm), or romance (http://covers.unclewaltersrants.com/) (sorry romance writers/readers - suggest a better link if you have one). With literary fiction there is a bit more latitude, and here really anything goes, as long as it doesn’t look too much like a ‘genre’ book. Make sure you know what is standard for yours.

There is still a stigma attached to self-publishing because a lot of the stuff coming out is poor quality, and looks unprofessional. Many people are cautious about buying self-published books and you don't want to put them off before they get a chance to read your writing.

And don’t forget, your self-published work won’t just be up against other self-published work. You will have all of these guys (http://bookcoverarchive.com/) to compete with too.

If you are a graphic designer, great, otherwise hire one, preferably one with experience of book cover design. This is one of the few areas where you really should spend money (along with editing). It's worth it; a bad cover will sink your book.

Most writers know this deep down, which is why many publishing contracts include a clause stating that the author has final approval over the cover. Unfortunately, the practice is somewhat different.

More often than not, the author is left out of the loop until the final possible moment, and there is a lot of pressure to approve whatever they come up with, that reworking it will cause all sorts of knock-on delays in the publisher’s schedule and nix planned promotional efforts.

Designers simply don’t have time to read every book, often only getting a blurb or synopsis to work from. While they always try to do their best, they have to get approval on everything from marketing and editing, and this can often result in something that the writer is unhappy with (and can do little about).

When you are self-publishing, you have none of these concerns. You can do whatever you like. Nice, isn’t it?

To make sure you end up with something that you are happy with (and don’t have to go back to your designer with endless revisions that will cost you money, and them to hate you), it’s important to give your designer as much information as possible.

Give them a copy of your book (they may only flick through it so give them a blurb too). Tell them what you are looking for (and don’t say something “fresh”). Show them copies of covers you like, and those you don’t like. The more information you can give, the better chance there is the designer will come up with something you like.

You will find great tips on designing your own cover here (http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/06/top-8-cover-design-tips-for-self-publishers/), and here (http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/the-dos-and-donts-of-cover-design-publishing-lesson-1/), but there are three important elements specific to e-book cover design that I should underline.

First, your cover must look good as a thumbnail. Most people will only see your cover on listings such as this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/157028011/ref=zg_bs_nav). Those images are pretty small, maybe one inch by half-an-inch on my screen (and others may have smaller screens), so keep those images clear, the fonts big, and the titles short.

The second thing you need to know is that it must look good as a greyscale image, as many readers will be browsing for books on their Kindles. So, in short, keep it simple.

Keep those dreams of a radical or ornate design for a print version. We’re talking about e-books, people, they’re not going to be on anyone’s coffee table.

Now, seeing as I am trying to keep costs down as much as possible, I had my sister, a book cover designer for a UK publisher, do a little moonlighting for me.

That might seem like cheating, but you must try and use whatever advantage you have to do this as cheaply as possible. The less you spend, the less you have to sell to cover your costs.

Then everything after that is profit. Forever. And you want to get to that point as quickly as you can.

In the future, if you are making money, you can pay professional rates for whichever designer you choose, but like any business starting off, and you must think of this as a business, you should aim to keep costs as low as you can.

If you don't know a cheap way of doing this yourself, Smashwords provide a list of people who will do the cover for you, at reasonable rates. Always make sure to see samples of their work before you agree anything.

And if you are really on a budget, you can always try sticking a post up at your local art college. A student designer, keen to build their portfolio, may do the work for free, or at a reduced price, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Whatever you decide, make sure to stick to simple rules above. The future of your book depends on it.

FocusOnEnergy
04-21-2011, 01:43 PM
Great advice. My favorite part thus far has been cover design.

One of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books includes a forward where she talks about bad cover art. Her Renunciate (aka Free Amazon) characters are very modestly dressed women who don't seek to attract men with their dress, and a book was published with I think a Frank Frazetta cover (or in his style) and the Renunciate on it was wearing a chain mail bikini. In her genre, that was the convention for cover design, but it caused some bad blood between MZB and her publisher, according to the story.

One advantage of self-publishing is that you either hire the artist or do the art yourself so you can work with them to make sure that the characters look like they are described and that the modest woman isn't wearing a chain-mail bikini.

Another way of getting a cover is crowdsourcing. CrowdSpring is an online service where you can post a project and multiple designers will create concepts for you to choose from. You only have to pay the person who you ultimately award the project to.

If you are doing a series, there should be consistent thematic aspects to the cover design that indicate the books belong together. Mercedes Lackey's covers for her books on Valdemar appear to have all been designed by the same person, because there are consistent design themes for all of them, yet the individual series are differentiated enough from one another that I can tell which ones are which on the book case.

This is key because although you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you do want your readers to be able to see and reach for (click on) your new book in a series by recognizing the design and knowing that it's yours and which series it belongs to.

Spend some time going through your own library looking for examples of this, and then go to a bookstore. Look at how books in your genre are designed.

What's interesting to see is how the conventions change. Back when I was in high school, I started reading historical romance (aka bodice rippers). You could tell how sexy they were by the covers-the more the bodice was ripped and the more passionate the embrace, the hotter the content.

Then, they changed the covers so that they often had jewelry and castles on them.

Some of the more recent books I have in the genre (from the late 90's) are just fancy text.

With non-fiction, it's a bit trickier, because then you often get into issues with photographs used for cover art as well as in your content. Photographs are also used for fiction covers. Research copyright law first. Make sure that any photo used for your book is legal to use, or you might find yourself dealing with an angry photographer or their estate.

Take that from someone who recently saw a calendar that used one of my better photos of a local musician, but it was heavily pixelated because it had been taken off facebook where I'd posted it.

Ditto with any art piece. In order to use it for a book, it must be either created for you as a "work for hire" or you have to license the copyright of it, if it is still under copyright (they expire). Just make sure that the reproduction of it is also legal to use. You have to get permission from the artist of a copyrighted work to photograph or otherwise reproduce it. The Mona Lisa is no longer under copyright, but photographs of it are.

Focus

dgaughran
04-21-2011, 02:02 PM
Oh yes, I have heard good things about CrowdSpring - nice one.

Link added: http://www.crowdspring.com/

Old Hack
04-21-2011, 06:17 PM
I'm moving this to Self Pub / POD covers, where it belongs. Hang onto your hats.

Sargentodiaz
04-21-2011, 08:27 PM
Thanks for starting this thread.

I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care.
Dave Barry (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/davebarry130934.html)

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dave_barry_2.html#ixzz1KAxQnk5N

shadowwalker
04-21-2011, 08:52 PM
Just tossing this out here but what about 'recruiting' art students at nearby colleges? One could design a 'contest', with the prize being their cover/name on the book, or something along those lines. Could restrict it to seniors or graduate students, and it might depend on how strong the college's art program is. Another possibility, anyway. ??

jnfr
04-21-2011, 08:57 PM
I hope no one minds the plug, but at my blog site I've put together a page of resources (http://www.clarybooks.com/?page_id=24) for self-publishers that includes a list of stock photo, font, and art sites. I update it whenever I see a good new source (and just added CrowdSpring, thanks for that link).

dgaughran
04-22-2011, 06:06 PM
Good idea shadowwalker

And thanks for that link jnfr - very useful

Alessandra Kelley
04-24-2011, 07:33 AM
Just tossing this out here but what about 'recruiting' art students at nearby colleges? One could design a 'contest', with the prize being their cover/name on the book, or something along those lines. Could restrict it to seniors or graduate students, and it might depend on how strong the college's art program is. Another possibility, anyway. ??

Not a good idea, shadowwalker.

I am an artist, and I'm afraid that approach is not going to make you any friends among artists. Every aspiring illustrator of any talent has been approached by people who request to use their art without pay, almost always with the implicit assumption that the artist should be grateful for the exposure. Letting someone else use your art for free is not much of a 'prize'.

Consider how you would feel as a writer if someone who needed a writing job done 'recruited' writing students at nearby colleges for a 'contest', with the prize being they got to do the writing job and got public acknowledgment that they wrote it. But no pay.

If you cannot afford to pay for a cover, there are ways to make one. But this idea smacks of exploitation. Please treat artists with the same respect you hope to receive as writers.

shadowwalker
04-24-2011, 06:31 PM
But this idea smacks of exploitation. Please treat artists with the same respect you hope to receive as writers.

There are many contests out there for writers where the only prize is publication, no money. I don't see it as exploitation at all. A contest is voluntary. The artist/writer knows what the prize is (their art/story and name given exposure), and decides, freely, whether or not to 'enter'.

Alessandra Kelley
04-25-2011, 12:29 AM
There are many contests out there for writers where the only prize is publication, no money. I don't see it as exploitation at all. A contest is voluntary. The artist/writer knows what the prize is (their art/story and name given exposure), and decides, freely, whether or not to 'enter'.

The comparison here is not to story publication, which at least is focused on one's own art, but more properly to advertising. It's one thing to enter a contest where the prize is some sort of showcasing, such as a solo art exhibit or having your story published (although I'm not convinced that such a contest without any pay is worth a writer's time). It's another thing entirely when the result is providing free advertising for somebody else's work.

Believe it or not, having your artwork on the cover of a book is not the equivalent of having your story published.

Let me put it this way. What's the last book you read?

Who wrote it?

Who made the cover art?

Most people can answer the first question with the title. Many can answer the second with the author (On a writers' forum like this one I should think most people could). The author is the most important person to know, because the book is his or her work. Very few people outside of the graphic design field know, care about, or remember who did the cover artwork for any book in particular, even if the artist gets credit somewhere. I'm not saying that it's right that this be so, simply that it is so.

Seriously, how many cover artists can you name, compared to how many authors?

Book cover art is ideally made in a sort of symbiotic partnership with the author, but it is of necessity subservient to the book itself. It is the book which is the important thing. Cover artists understand and accept this as part of the tradeoff in selling their work.

It is unkind to invite somebody to make something for which they will be little noted nor long remembered for no payment.

I reiterate, if you don't have a budget for a cover, work with what you've got. Please don't try to convince some poor artist that it's in his or her interest to provide you with free advertising.

shadowwalker
04-25-2011, 01:16 AM
It is unkind to invite somebody to make something for which they will be little noted nor long remembered for no payment.

I reiterate, if you don't have a budget for a cover, work with what you've got. Please don't try to convince some poor artist that it's in his or her interest to provide you with free advertising.

'Invite' means the artist is free to choose. I did not say "try to convince". And I'm assuming that artists who are seniors in college or in graduate school have enough maturity and brains to make their own decisions.

Just as with self-publishing itself, people have to think about it and decide for themselves what's the best route to take.

James D. Macdonald
04-25-2011, 02:21 AM
A self-publisher is a publisher, and if the publisher can't afford to pay for the cover art, the publisher doesn't get cover art. Same as if they can't afford to pay for copy editing, or proofreading, or typesetting.

Yes, artists should be paid. To ask them to donate their work for the glory of it is like those markets that want writers to donate their works so that the publisher can sell their magazine for a profit. It's lots easier to make a profit if you don't pay for your raw materials.

A cover is a point-of-sale advertisement. You'd no more expect to get it for free than you'd expect a newspaper to run your ad for free, for the pure glory of having your ad on their pages. You can't take glory to the store and come back with a gallon of milk.

Others would be more qualified than I to talk about how commercial publishers pay commercial cover-artists. But self-publishers should deal with artists in the same way that the pros do. (IIRC, it's a flat fee for use of the art in a single project, with credit, as a package with the book's title etc. on it; the artist retains all other rights, including exhibition, resale, reproduction, and derivative works.)

shadowwalker
04-25-2011, 03:30 AM
A self-publisher is a publisher, and if the publisher can't afford to pay for the cover art, the publisher doesn't get cover art. Same as if they can't afford to pay for copy editing, or proofreading, or typesetting.

I respectfully disagree. A start-up business needs to use its available funds as wisely as possible, and be as innovative as possible. If they make an offer to an artist, without dishonesty, via contest or any other means, and the artist agrees to it, I see absolutely nothing wrong with doing so. We're not talking about schoolchildren, after all.

James D. Macdonald
04-25-2011, 03:56 AM
A start-up business needs to use its available funds as wisely as possible, and be as innovative as possible.

If a start-up business doesn't have the funds to do business, they aren't ready to start up.

shadowwalker
04-25-2011, 04:50 AM
If a start-up business doesn't have the funds to do business, they aren't ready to start up.

I didn't say they didn't have funds. I said they need to use those start-up funds wisely and innovatively.

FocusOnEnergy
04-25-2011, 08:20 AM
A cover is a point-of-sale advertisement. You'd no more expect to get it for free than you'd expect a newspaper to run your ad for free, for the pure glory of having your ad on their pages.

A lot of people do expect newspapers to run their ads for free. Everyone expects them to run press releases for free, and those are advertising, too.

I think the difference is that shadowwalker is talking about art students, not professionals. I'm involved in a number of non-profits around this area, and most of us utilize students when we need design work (posters, logos, etc.) which is a win/win. Non-profits get the work done for no charge, and the students get class credit and something in their portfolio.

Professionals deserve to be paid, because they can be counted on to produce professional results consistently. With students it is often a crap shoot. But, free beats paying for something.

Focus

Alessandra Kelley
04-25-2011, 07:35 PM
A lot of people do expect newspapers to run their ads for free. Everyone expects them to run press releases for free, and those are advertising, too.

Newspapers do not run ads for free, regardless of what people expect. They charge for every single line, for every square centimeter of advertising space. They have no obligation whatsoever to print press releases. Newspapers are deluged with press releases, almost none of which ever see the light of day.


I think the difference is that shadowwalker is talking about art students, not professionals. I'm involved in a number of non-profits around this area, and most of us utilize students when we need design work (posters, logos, etc.) which is a win/win. Non-profits get the work done for no charge, and the students get class credit and something in their portfolio.

The students would have to produce work for their classes and portfolios anyway. They gain no extra benefit from providing their work to you. All of the benefit is on your side. If they provide you with free art, they are doing you a favor. You are not doing them a favor.


Professionals deserve to be paid, because they can be counted on to produce professional results consistently. With students it is often a crap shoot. But, free beats paying for something.

Perhaps student work would be less of a crap shoot if you paid them fairly for their work.

FocusOnEnergy
04-25-2011, 07:58 PM
Newspapers do not run ads for free, regardless of what people expect. They charge for every single line, for every square centimeter of advertising space. They have no obligation whatsoever to print press releases. Newspapers are deluged with press releases, almost none of which ever see the light of day.

I know, I work for a newspaper. And I listen to my editor complaining about the above on a regular basis.



The students would have to produce work for their classes and portfolios anyway. They gain no extra benefit from providing their work to you. All of the benefit is on your side. If they provide you with free art, they are doing you a favor. You are not doing them a favor.

All I'm saying is that this is something that is commonly done by the non-profits in our area, including some of the ones I'm involved with. And it is something that benefits the students, because they seem to enjoy doing something for a charity, as well as having the exposure of their work being all over town on posters, in ads, etc. Otherwise, they wouldn't be willing to do it.

As someone who charges a healthy fee for my graphic art services, I don't give freebies to non-profits, but I'm also an experienced professional, not someone still with their training wheels on.



Perhaps student work would be less of a crap shoot if you paid them fairly for their work.

That sounded rather accusatory, I'm sure you didn't mean it that way.

Focus

Sargentodiaz
04-25-2011, 08:46 PM
I don't know how epublishers generally do it, but isn't there some kind of percentage where editors and artists receive some percentage of the sales?
That's how Virtual Tales did it. While the author got a decent percent, the rest was shared between the artist and the editor.

shadowwalker
04-25-2011, 08:56 PM
The students would have to produce work for their classes and portfolios anyway. They gain no extra benefit from providing their work to you. All of the benefit is on your side. If they provide you with free art, they are doing you a favor. You are not doing them a favor.

Yeah, absolutely no benefit to saying they did the cover art for a published book...

I guess I keep wondering why you don't want authors to even suggest such a thing. Why not let the artist themselves consider it, instead of trying to take the choice away completely? Seems a rather patronizing attitude.

Alessandra Kelley
04-25-2011, 09:54 PM
I apologise, FocusOnEnergy, for my accusatory tone.

Many people do donate their work (labor, time, artwork, or what-have-you) to non-profits and derive great satisfaction from doing so. That seems to me to be a social good to be encouraged.

However, we are not dealing here with non-profit groups, but rather individual self-publishers, people who are selling their books for money. There is no comparison between charitable work and asking artists, particularly young, inexperienced artists, to provide cover artwork for free for someone else's monetary gain.

It troubles me that self-publishers, who as a group have to be very cautious about being exploited, should suggest something like exploitation of another group.

Might it not be better, if you are a self-publisher with no budget for cover artwork, to offer a trade in kind? As writers, you have useful skills which most artists lack. Many artists need help writing up résumés, artist's statements, proposals, and so forth. How about trading some of your writing skills in return for images for your covers? That seems fairer than the promise of exposure for their art (which, honestly, is less enticing than people seem to think).

quickreaver
04-26-2011, 04:26 AM
Transparency is important, sure. Being up-front about who you are, and that you haven't two dimes to rub together to compensate your cover artist, is a step in the right direction when it comes to hiring a student. (I'm not trying to sound accusatory, but hey, this IS the packaging that will sell your book! Isn't that kinda important?)

Fact is they're giving away their work, to you, for free. Being able to say "Hey, I'm on a (digitally) published book cover!" is small reward these days, when any Tom, Dick, and Harry can publish. There's a saying in the artist community when a well-meaning client crows about all the exposure the artist will get: "People die from exposure." Does anyone really know who the cover artists are? Ever? Not so much. We don't do it for the notoriety; we do it because we can, and it supports our lives creatively and financially.

To be honest, a student artist is better served to work on personal pieces that pinpoint what they want to be doing as a PAID professional than working for a hobbyist client, for no pay. The latter example offers no true experience in working for an art director. If you're making mistakes, who would know to correct those bad habits? And frankly, when you're asking for free art, you get what you pay for. Typically, it looks like student work. And again, this is YOUR cover. Do you want it to look amateurish?

There's no harm in asking for free work from folks; simply be ready for a fair amount of resistance. And for good cause.

~Cris

Medievalist
04-26-2011, 04:40 AM
Why not offer the artist a share of the income?

You plan to make money from your writing; the artist should make money from her art.

shadowwalker
04-26-2011, 04:45 AM
There's no harm in asking for free work from folks; simply be ready for a fair amount of resistance. And for good cause.

I don't believe anyone said one should twist their arm. If the artist doesn't want to participate, they don't have to.

Art students are a resource. Maybe that sounds predatory to some, but people are considered resources to any business.

Medievalist
04-26-2011, 04:53 AM
Art students are a resource. Maybe that sounds predatory to some, but people are considered resources to any business.

I have a great idea for a novel. Why don't I tell you my idea, you write the novel, and we'll split the money ?

shadowwalker
04-26-2011, 04:54 AM
Why not offer the artist a share of the income?

You plan to make money from your writing; the artist should make money from her art.

There's absolutely no reason that couldn't be part of it.

As I originally stated: "One could design a 'contest', with the prize being their cover/name on the book, or something along those lines." How that came to be 'exploitive' I still don't understand. You determine the prize you want to offer, people either think it's worth 'entering' or not. :Shrug:

shadowwalker
04-26-2011, 04:58 AM
I have a great idea for a novel. Why don't I tell you my idea, you write the novel, and we'll split the money ?

Like a ghost writer? Why not? Depending on the split, of course. And if I don't care for it, I'll just say, "No thanks."

Simple.

quickreaver
04-26-2011, 07:35 AM
True! Anyone can say 'no thank you.' I'm simply warning you to be prepared for some chafing from the art community, even on the student level. Far too many young artists have gotten suckered into working hard for nuthin'. The fact you're suggesting honesty from the get-go is a good, good thing!

If the situation were to be equitable, perhaps you should simply give your novel away, in the hopes your name will get out there and a publisher will think "Hmm! They've got experience, even though it's self-publishing. And they aren't making money from it. I think I'll give them a whirl!" Doesn't exactly follow, does it?

Treat your cover artist as you would a fellow writer. We're all in the same boat! And for the record, I have done free art, for charity, the occasional friend and the odd challenge or two, but if I'm acting as a professional I want to get paid, even if it's simply a token amount.

~Cris

shadowwalker
04-26-2011, 05:33 PM
If the situation were to be equitable, perhaps you should simply give your novel away, in the hopes your name will get out there...

I do believe quite a few self-publishers (and others) do give books away for free as enticements. Their decision.


Treat your cover artist as you would a fellow writer.

I believe this would be the case. I've heard many self-published authors complain about the patronizing tone they get, so I'm all for treating artists as if they were adults in an adult world, capable of deciding for themselves what they want to do.

Talking about exploitation and 'fellow writers/artists' etc is all well and good, and in the writing world, I definitely take the route of trying to be helpful and encouraging. However - now we're talking business. And while you need to worry about your business reputation, you need to worry more about the bottom line, 'cause reputation after you've gone out of business is just an epitaph. There's a line you have to draw between "how to treat fellow artists" and "how do I get the biggest bang for the buck" - and after all, that's one of the major reasons one goes to self-publishing, is it not?

quickreaver
04-27-2011, 08:54 AM
Artists need to worry about their bottom lines too. S'all I can say. Oh, and this link:

http://www.no-spec.com/faq/

Alessandra Kelley
04-27-2011, 03:15 PM
Ooh, nice link, quickreaver.

quickreaver
04-27-2011, 05:15 PM
Thanks! I think it sums up our situation nicely. Much more polite than Harlan Ellison's firey rant about being asked to work for free. He's a character, to be sure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

shadowwalker
04-27-2011, 05:19 PM
Artists need to worry about their bottom lines too. S'all I can say. Oh, and this link:

http://www.no-spec.com/faq/

:sarcasm

Okay - I'm demanding that writers exploit artists.

Go for it, people! Take 'em for all they're worth!

Sargentodiaz
04-27-2011, 11:55 PM
Why is spec work unethical?

I don't think that an aspiring writer asking an aspiring artist or designer to enter a partnership is unethical! If an agreement is reached - even via email - what is wrong with that?

A member of this forum offered to provide covers for free. She did so and I used it on one of my books on Kindle and Nook. And I also made darned sure she got credit for her work!!! If she would've asked for a percentage of any sales, I would've readily agreed.

quickreaver
04-28-2011, 08:19 AM
There's a difference between two creatives collaborating and 'spec work'. I decided to enter the conversation after this post: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6061890&postcount=6 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6061890&postcount=6) This...this is spec work. Plain and simple. And really, the only person benefiting is the one holding said contest.

:sarcasm Everyone LOVES to get something for nuthin', don't they? Art school doesn't cost a dime, didn't you know?

As the conversation has evolved, the discussion of compensation has evolved as well. Credit alone does very little to further any artist's career. You can't put food on the table with credit (unless it's Visa or Mastercard.) You get no professional experience or advice. Would any artist want to be known as 'the one who will do stuff for free'? Not me, that's for darned sure, because it only propagates more of the same: authors asking for freebies. But hey, if that's okay with everyone involved, excellent! As long as the parties are on the same page, no harm, no foul.

Most artists, even on the student level, are counseled against such practices, however. The resource links I provided above give all the reasons why. I was simply warning folks as to the response they're likely get for requesting spec work. But give it a whirl if you think it'll fly for you. Best of luck.

dgaughran
04-28-2011, 03:21 PM
Hi all,

I'm late to this kerfuffle that I inadvertently started!

Okay, so I wasn't the clearest in my post. Mea culpa.

I didn't mean that writers should be predatory and pressure other artists or students into contributing free work. I should have elaborated a little. I would expect some kind of barter in that the artist would provide you with something and maybe you would promote them in return, write something for their website, do come copywriting work, something like that they felt was fair compensation.

There are posts on this forum where people offer to do proofing and covers and things like that while they build up their portfolio, sometimes in exchange for something else, sometimes for free. That's the kind of thing I was talking about.
I would never expect someone to work for free for me, but if they did I would expect to have some arrangement to compensate them in some other way, or at some future date, or to do something for them in return.

Dave

quickreaver
04-28-2011, 07:49 PM
I think that's a capital idea, Dave, and I'm glad you elaborated! Bartering goods/services is a great way to collaborate. I'd be all for trading a cover in exchange for something like website design or beta-ing (if that's even a word!) See? I already need an editor something fierce. ;)

dgaughran
04-29-2011, 12:28 PM
Hey Quickreaver - I bet if you post a thread saying exactly that, people will jump all over it.

Dave

quickreaver
04-29-2011, 05:56 PM
I shall! When I'm ready for barter, I'll plop it down here somewhere.

I honestly wish the world worked that way more often, rather than its addiction to the Almighty Dollar. However, I felt I needed to make the point that attribution and supposed exposure isn't enough of a trade-off.


'Nuff said! :D Peace.

dgaughran
04-29-2011, 06:35 PM
No, you were right to make your point.

And yeah, barter is a great way to go - especially in the self-pub community. I have had a few discounts here and there just from writing some copy.