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Author Topic: Book Covers in Self-Publishing  (Read 2014 times)
EmbarkPier54
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« on: May 09, 2018, 07:32:42 AM »

Has anyone ever worked with an illustrator to design their self-published book cover? I'm wondering if you used a contract, and if so, if you worked with a lawyer to draft the contract.

I'm also trying to figure out pricing. Did you charge a flat fee for sketches and the final version? Or, did you offer royalty payments?

I've found the artist who is interested in doing my cover, but they aren't a professional book designer and don't have a contract to solicit their services, so I could have a contract drawn up if necessary. I haven't found much online about the process of working with an illustrator in a self-published capacity and don't know anyone who's done this.

Any help would be much appreciated!
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koji
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2018, 08:24:10 AM »

I am on the other side of this (I work for a design firm) and can say a few things:

1- you can find sample contracts for illustrators online. For most basic illustration services, these contracts will suffice. However, if your friend wants to continue offering illustration services, it is a good idea to meet with a lawyer and draw up specifics of a basic contract they can use with clients. Whether or not you need a lawyer depends on the size of the contract. Honestly, we never have our lawyers review contracts for less than ten thousand USD. It's just a waste of money for us at that point.

2- In general designers and illustrators have a payment plan. Depending on the amount, it is common practice to ask for full payment up front (or put into an escrow). This is done because so many designers have been screwed out of their money after delivering the agreed upon goods to a client. However, some designers and illustrators still work from the 3-4 payment plan. 1) when you sign the contract 2) when sketches are delivered 3) when a mockup is delivered 4) just before final files are delivered (which are usually viewed with a watermark and then released when the final payment is received).

3- I have never known a designer or illustrator who works on just royalties for book covers, considering it is so far beyond their control to sell the book. Some may do partial royalties and an upfront fee as well.

4- We tend to charge between $100-$200 for cover design (books, cds etc), but that is graphic design, not specifically illustrative design, which may be more expensive.
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EmbarkPier54
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2018, 09:25:17 AM »

Koji, thank you so much for taking the time to provide this information. This is so helpful. Through a little more research, I found a book that has sample contracts (Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators), which has a basic contract that I can appropriate for this work.

What file format do you send the designs in? Have you worked with self-published authors for book covers?
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blackhat
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2018, 10:16:35 AM »

I am working with a cover & formatting design company right now called Damonza. You can go to their site (https://damonza.com/) and check out their design packages and assess their work on over 3,000 completed covers. They've been in the business a little while and work with traditional companies (and well known authors) as well as self-publishing clients.

No, they aren't cheap but I can attest to the fact that they are good at what they do. I'm at the final stage of my initial cover design and we've gone through two major changes and two sets of additional adjustments (consisting of 7 or more items each). Damonza has been responsive, accurate and professional. I couldn't be happier with my cover. One more minor group of revisions and I think we're there.

That said, they are not inexpensive but they know the industry and understand what's required in file types, sizes, resolutions, etc. whether your end product will be e-book only, e-book plus softback, or the whole range of offerings including hardback, dust covers, audio, etc. They are very upfront about their prices and what's included - you can see them on the website. I am with a hybrid publisher that has a relationship with Damonza, but basically, I picked the package that I liked, filled out their questionnaire, signed their T&C's and paid half through PayPal. They guarantee to have two designs back to you, based on your input, within 14 days. After that, if neither design is close to what you're looking for, they'll start over until you have a design that is close enough to work with. (If they can't come close to what you want, you can back out and they will refund your payment.) Once you've selected a workable design, they will make as many changes as you need (within reason) until you're satisfied. They had two designs back within the 14 days. One was very close - I actually teared up when I saw it. 

I have enjoyed working with them so far and been very happy with the results. (My financial situation may not be the same as yours.) I notice that Damonza also has a selection of pre-designed covers that may work for you as well. They seem to run in the $200 range. I'm not sure how that works or what's included there except that whichever cover you pick, they retire that design, so you are the only one who has it.

If nothing else, Damonza is a good site to go to and check out a boatload of current covers in a variety of genres to get your mind working. My book's genre is women's fiction, so there aren't as many covers to look through, but yours may be something more mainstream. I'm not giving advice so much as providing you with a place where you can check out covers, contracts and prices with a reputable firm. There are many other ways to get a cover made, this is just one of them.

Good luck!
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koji
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2018, 11:15:28 AM »

Koji, thank you so much for taking the time to provide this information. This is so helpful. Through a little more research, I found a book that has sample contracts (Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators), which has a basic contract that I can appropriate for this work.

What file format do you send the designs in? Have you worked with self-published authors for book covers?

For us, what final files we send depends on what the person will need them for. We usually send vectors as well as the specific file types for their needs. We haven't worked with self-pubbed authors, but have worked with independent musicians.
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EmbarkPier54
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2018, 07:31:04 PM »

This is such great information, Blackhat and Koji. Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I still have more research and planning to do, but I feel like I'm going into my meeting with the illustrator with a good sense of the basics of how to work with an artist to commission their designs.
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