When fellow author Mark Whiteway showed me his new book covers, and mentioned what it cost him to have them commissioned, I asked him if he would write up a guest post about it. I'll let him take it from here.
Affordable Cover Designers
by Mark Whiteway
Imagine a world where people with all manner of skills would work for highly affordable rates, whilst falling over themselves to please you. A world where you call the shots, you set the deadlines and you pay for work only when you are totally satisfied.
When Victorine assessed my books and it became clear that I needed new covers, my heart sank. I have the design skills of a four year old finger painter, and I don’t have the time, money or patience to get involved with photoshop or the equivalent. What to do? I queried several designers who wanted anything from 80 to 200 bucks per cover including some who would only let you use the finished product under license. It was then that I stumbled across oDesk. https://www.odesk.com/
oDesk is best described as an online virtual supermarket for employers. There are literally hundreds of people offering skills, many of which are highly relevant to independent authors. Need an editor? No problem. Graphic design? Got you covered. Formatting? Sure. Web design? Can do.
Many contractors are from the third world and will work for rates that we in the West would consider derisory. A custom designed ebook cover for example, will typically set you back no more than 15 or 20 bucks. Usually you will work with them using skype which is a highly effective way of collaborating and swapping design ideas in real time.
Navigating the site is easy. You sign up as a new employer, which is free, and within minutes you can be posting your first job.
Spend a little time perusing the highly informative blogs and tutorial videos. You can search for contractors and offer them work directly, but unless you are looking for something highly specialised, it’s better to put out a general post. Take a look at job posts from those who want similar work done and you will quickly get the idea.
You can offer fixed price or hourly rate. For an ebook cover, choose fixed price and indicate that payment in full is to be made only on satisfactory completion of the project. You can specify the minimum skills you expect the person to have. As I am a techno dunce, I specified that the contractor had to produce upload ready files of the final design for Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. I offered 30 bucks because frankly I was not comfortable offering less than that!
Within 48 hours I had already accumulated 12 applicants. How do you tell if they are any good? Simple. Each contractor has a work history where they have been rated by past employers. Look particularly for those who have experience in the skill(s) you want and who have been re-engaged by the same people for further work. Graphic designers will have portfolios where you can view their past work.
Next, transfer your possible candidates to a short list and then interview them. There is an excellent blog on suggested interview questions. You can interview them in real time on skype, but I suggest sending them proforma interview first, so that you can evaluate their written responses.
The contractor I selected, who was from the Philippines, was Jharwin Barrozo. His English is excellent, and he completely lived up to expectations, producing the finished design and upload ready files for each cover in about 48 hours on average. My covers are displayed here, so you can see Jharwin’s work.
The risk is minimal, since the contractor has to complete the job to your satisfaction in order to get paid. I did try another contractor, but she was not able to fulfil the task, and so I had no obligation to pay her.
Mark's books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.