In a recent post about choosing a print-on-demand (POD) provider, I said I was going to look into the viability of having someone else handle the cover art for a POD version of my short story collection, The Year of the Elm. For the past week or so I’ve been doing exactly that, and I think the issues I’ve been wrestling with are ones that many (if not most) independent authors will necessarily confront.
Having asked for and received recommendations and responses from a number of independent authors, the most interesting thing I can report is that the exploding self-publishing marketplace currently provides cover-design services to independent authors at almost any imaginable price point. It’s almost absurdly easy to find people doing this kind of work across a wide range of fees.
While questions of artistic merit and marketing effectiveness are central to the importance of a book cover, and the professional standing of many cover-design providers is all over the map, I’m going to deal with those issues (and more) in subsequent posts. I’ll also try to detail the logical process I follow in coming to my own decision about whether or not to employ someone else’s talents — a decision I took as a foregone conclusion last week, but one I’m a bit surprised to be revisiting again.
As I said in another recent post:
Just because someone hangs out a shingle it doesn’t mean you’re going to be fairly charged, or that the work will be done to your standards. In fact, you could get gouged for slip-shod work that you would then have to pay someone else to fix, leaving you out more money and more time than you would have forfeited if you had done the work yourself.
The point here is that what looks like a simple question — paying others to do work for you — can quickly explode into more complex and problematic questions, all of which also involve time as a component.
— Mark Barrett
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