While seeing a lot of wonderful and inspirational work in art and book cover design, I am also seeing a lot of creative common licensed stock (That I am VERY familiar with due to 10 years of digital art and being a member of a LOT of art and stock communities).
What I AM seeing does not add up… I am seeing creative commons licensed stock from websites such as deviant art, that do have restrictions and even require PAYMENT for publication use, used for premade covers. Payment from DA artists can range from $50 – $1000 for use of their stock in publication. It all varies on the use and print run. Yet some cover designers are selling their covers for $30 – $80.
Firstly I advise all Authors to do their research on their cover designer. Yes, there are competitive prices on wonderful cover designs. Find the one that suits you. Prices in the mid Hundreds are cheap for a design. As an author you will be a winner with all the sales the cover design will make you.
You are paying for professional experience, professional knowledge on printing and publication, Legalities of creative commons and copyright, Design and Art education of artists and designers who have spent years learning their skills. You are paying for the face of your written art that is legal and professional.
Be informed and know as much as you can. You are still liable, even if it was the designer/artist who did the wrong thing.
Ask for information on where the stock is coming from. Ask to see the written artist permission or stock model release form, if they do not come from a professional stock site and have a receipt.
Ask for references from other clients.
If your artwork does not have all the correct licensing, and is legal, you may be setting yourself up for major losses and even lawsuits. You may be buying designs that contain stolen stock or have been copyrighted from other designers.
READ THROUGH YOUR CONTRACT!!! READ THROUGH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE!!!
It may seem a hassle to read through all the legal terms and language, as boring as watching paint dry. But it is IMPERATIVE that you read it. You have the right to renegotiate some areas of a contract. You have the right to request, read and then decline the contract if it is not to your liking. You may be required to send a hard copy print version of the book to your artist.
You need to know your rights and what is expected of you.
To all artists… Being competitive does not mean that you undervalue your designs by slapping $30 on a cover in the hopes that you will gain a sale. Authors, want quality, reliability AND competitive pricing.
1) You need to consider the stock that you have used. What dose the stock cost, is it available to use in publication and print (commercial) and if so, what is the printing run available for those stock images. Stock licensing prices vary.
2) How many hours have you spent designing and creating your art and book covers.
3) How many changes did you have to make for your client?
This can be as simple as correcting a spelling mistake, or going back into the art file and spending hours on, what may seem an easy correction, to change the artwork at the client’s request.
4) What is the client receiving? digital ePub cover art, Fully designed print ready jacket for publication, promotional material, bookmarks, postcards, posters, etc… It can take a few hours for all of these items to create the template that is print ready and colour proofed to a professional standard.
5) Do you have a degree in Visual Arts, Digital Arts or Graphic Design? These degrees are EXPENSIVE and your client is paying for your professional knowledge, experience and applicable knowledge of copyright and infringement laws to protect their assets and writers reputation. Your work will be the face and selling point of their story. It is the first thing a buyer will see on the shelves.
Professional Graphic designers and book cover designers are earning up to $1000+ for their work. Be competitive but don’t hurt yourself, or your client, by charging prices that don’t reflect the work that you have put into your designs.
It would be like asking an author to spend a month on writing you a story and paying them $50, while you earn $1000 on the sale of the story.
Put it this way…
If you worked a 9-5 job 5 days a week, at a pay rate of say $19 (minimum wage) an hour, you would be earning $665 before tax. That is $133 for 7 hrs of work. This is work as a junior administrator or barista. No Graphic Design experience.
You spent 2-5 years on a University Education. You have a degree or Long term experience and the work history for the industry. Due to this you would be earning $24-29 an hour working in a company.
Now apply this to your designs…
You pay $50 for a basic stock image that has a print run of 50,000 copies and can be only used for publication.
You spend a total of 5 hrs, the entire commission process, liaising with your client over the internet or phone, sending files, sending proof confirmations, searching internet stock sites for the correct stock image, then using your internet to download the files.
Say, it takes you a total of 7 hrs to photo edit, photo manipulate and digital paint your book cover artwork. This includes creating the template for print, height, width, spine, bleed and CMYK colour coding.
Say your client keeps you re editing and changing your artwork and you end up spending 2hrs re entering the file and saving all changes to be re-sent and proofed.
That is a total of 14 working hours, that if you were working the 9-5 day job as a barista you would earn $266 before tax OR with a Graphic Design Degree or Long Term Work Experience at a pay rate of $29 an hr, you would be earning $406 before tax at a company.
Now add your experience, professional design degree, stock purchase of $50, your 14 working hours @ $19 and you have $316 and at a professional rate @ $29 you have $456. This is a flat rate that does not include royalties.
Say your client is selling the ePub file for $4 a digital download and they end up selling 30,000 copies. That is a sale total of $120,000.
If you deduct the $456 (high work pay rate) from the $120,000 your client has made a profit of $119,544, while you have earnt $456.
Professional designers who do not ask for royalties, incorporate this figure into their design prices. That is why it is still considered a cheap design sale if it costs the client $1000. The Artist/Designers losses and the Authors gains cover for both.
Don’t undervalue your work. I look at designers who sell their designs for $30 and think….“Whaaaaaa? Who has been passing the koolaid?”
In the real world who can work for 7 hrs and earn $50? I dont think that would cover the electricity or internet bill…