I design most of my own book covers. Unlike many writers, I do have some graphic design training, enough to be competent if not really sophisticated or expert. That combined with what I've been told is a "good eye" and a preference for simple covers enables me to save some dollars.
Not every cover design I've done makes the grade. Some have been simply bad. The worst I did was for The Barbary Lion. I soon replaced that awful design, even though Goodreads doesn't show the updated cover. Most uncooperative of them.
When Tiger in the Snow came out, I continued with the theme established in The Barbary Lion: a black and white line drawing of a roaring predator in the top third of the cover, a colored center bar with the title, and a sensual, black and white picture of man kissing a woman on the bottom third.
As I worked to finish up the third book in the series, Bear of the Midnight Sun, I anticipated designing that cover, too. However, I could not find a line drawing of a roaring polar bear that I liked. I did find a few pictures for the bottom of the cover that would suit. Stymied, I decided to hand the cover design to a professional who specializes in cover design and posted an RFP or buyer request on Fiverr.
I thought the request was sufficiently specific. Perhaps not. Regardless, in short order I received a flood of bids. Only one responded with a couple of questions that demonstrated the vendor actually read the RFP. All the others sent canned responses, with all but a handful promising 24-hour delivery for only $5. I checked the portfolio of the one guy who actually read the RFP and, unfortunately, did not like his work.
Of those who responded with boilerplate text, I shortlisted a handful who stated they read the RFP. After looking at their portfolios, I replied to each with three questions:
None of them fully answered the questions. All included an exhortation to order now in their replies, as well as rote assurances that they'd design the cover to my satisfaction. One responded with a question as to the image size for the finished cover graphic which is clearly stated in the buyer request.
"Did you read the RFP?" I asked.
"No, I do not have the RFP," she replied.
If she didn't read the RFP, then just what in the hell did she respond to? Why submit a bid?
One of the four shortlisted vendors did respond in more detail than the others and he amended his bid. I decided to give this guy a chance. I like his work and reviews for him are mostly positive.
I value my cover more than these graphic designers. To them, it's just a quick job go dash off. However, it's my reputation as an author on the line. One might be forgiven for thinking that the designer considers the work as reflective of his or her reputation, too. When I bid on a project, I put my reputation as an editor or writer to the test with a promise of top quality service and professionalism.
The response from the bidders on my project clearly indicate that my standards may be too high.
If this doesn't work out, then I'll have to consider it a lamentable error in judgment. I'll know within a week.
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