Last week an indie author posted a link to her contest on my wall, indicating I might be interested in entering. The contest was simple: whoever can create the best looking cover art for her upcoming release wins.
What is the prize, you ask? Why, not monetary compensation, but the opportunity to have your artwork on her novel and an interview on her blog. After perusing her blog, I see she’s a relatively new author with a small following. So basically, she’s asking for me to invest my valuable time and money into creating a piece of artwork that may or may not qualify me for a spot on her blog.
Hmmm. I think I’ll pass, and not just because I have several loyal PAYING customers plus a publishing house to keep me busy, but because I’m offended, HIGHLY offended, at this author’s lame attempt to get something for nothing.
For whatever reason, it appears a few artists have lowered their standards and entered her contest. The entries I saw appear to be the same few covers reworked with a variety of fonts and shades.
Tsk tsk, fellow artists. Have you no shame that you will give away your talents for free? Do you not realize that if this contest catches on, other authors will also expect you to work for nothing? Are you one of the few artists who actually has no bills to pay and who has loads of time to invest your creative talents for free?
Authors, your book is your baby. You have spent months, maybe even years nurturing this book. You’ve researched plot, motivation and conflict. You know your characters as well as you know your own family members. You have invested your time and your heart into this book and now you need to shine it up and prepare to present it to the world.
The first thing your readers will see before reading that blurb or the first chapter is the cover. A good artist will be able to capture the tone of your book and use the rules of composition to make the cover appealing to readers.
In other words, a good artist will maximize your selling potential by creating an eye-catching cover, and you should show appreciation to your artist by paying him/her a fair wage. After all, you don’t want to be a one book wonder, the author who publishes one book and then fades into obscurity. By establishing a good relationship with an artist, you can depend on having quality artwork for all of your future projects.
Remember that old adage, “You get what you pay for.” It applies with cover art, too. Would you spend hours detailing the inside of your car and then leave the outside caked in mud and bug splat? Would you spend valuable time and money remodeling your home and then neglect to paint the outside? Why would you spend so much time on your masterpiece and then try to scam an artist into creating work for you for free? It’s degrading and humiliating to the artist, and in the long run, will leave a sour taste in the artist’s mouth, especially after she’s designed a free cover for you and then other authors expect her to do the same.
Like I’ve said before, I have a loyal base of clients. They respect my work and I respect them. If you go to my indie artwork page, you will see most of my covers are for repeat authors. Why? Because they appreciate my talents and I try my hardest to create covers that reflect their visions.
Why, then, would I give away my work to someone who doesn’t respect my efforts? And if I did create free artwork for this author, I’m sure that my loyal paying customers would be equally angered.
Indie authors, if you’ve seen this contest or contests like this one, I kindly ask you not to follow suit. Sure, you might attract a few artists who obviously lack confidence in their work if they are willing to work for free, but mostly, you will end up pissing off quality artists and their paying customers.