My cover artist fired me.
I’m still not sure exactly what happened. I LOVED his initial draft of the cover (which I can’t show you because he refunded my down payment, which means his work is not mine to show).
As you may remember from last week’s post, I had two changes I wanted: to remove the snake glyph, which I’d decided against, and to make my name more visible by decreasing the letter-spacing and increasing the font a point or two.
I sent him that request, but when the cover came back, he had also changed the color of the font from white to some kind of gray.
So I sent back a note, asking him to revert to the original white. I expected a quick turnaround, but what I got was:
I’d rather we didn’t do that because it’s balanced as it is. If you put you name in white what would happen is that the name and the title would fight against each other and it would look odd. Did you read my last email about the visual index. You have have EVERYTHING SHOUTING on a cover. It doesn’t work if you do. And it looks a mess. But here … I’ll show you. It looks all unbalanced. I don’t know whether to look at the title or the author name now. Horrid.
He attached a file titled “Bad Design.” To be honest, the covers looked the same to me, except that I could see my name on one set and not the other. I responded that he might be right on an artistic level, but on a marketing level, readers needed to be able to read my name in thumbnail on a cell phone.
I figured that was the end of it, but instead I got back a rant that said, in part:
You do realise that you name is right by the actual image there on the amazon search results and when they look at a cover they glance at it for a second to see what the book is about … not to try and read all the text on it. But to glean some information about what the book is about about. So actually utterly pointless to even care about that.
That may be true from an artist’s perspective, but I’m not an artist. I’m a writer and to me, words matter. I tried to imagine going through this with every cover for seven more books. The very thought sent a shudder through me. This just wasn’t working. And it was exhausting. I responded:
It sounds like you’re really not comfortable providing the cover that I feel would best market my books.
Since I plan to create seven or eight more books in this series, perhaps it would be best if you refund my down payment and I start again with another designer.
Thanks and sorry it didn’t work out.
Which may have been an over-reaction, given that I really loved the covers. He responded:
Please, don’t read into something that isn’t there. I admit I’m blunt (even on my website) but good at my job.
Firstly, I’m happy to finish your covers for you with whatever changes you want. If you don’t want to listen to my advice then that’s up to you … but if I didn’t offer my advice then I wouldn’t be doing my job properly. It’s that simple from my point of view. It would actually be easier quicker and more efficient if I didn’t spend time trying to explain how design works. So here are you changes as you suggested, anymore let me know.
I take my job very seriously indeed, I like to think I have a mass of experience and have professional integrity when working with clients in this way. Explaining and giving away information about how things work. If you don’t want to hear it … I’ll make a note of that, shut up and just do what you ask. Okay?
Okay. I really loved these covers. And maybe I’d overreacted. In an effort to compromise and not press him to betray his artistic vision, I suggested “stacking” the articles in the title–that is, making “The” smaller than the rest of the title to give the title some visual variety to offset the visual pull of the author name.
He did that and asked if there were any other changes to finalize the ebook. I asked about adding an armband tattoo to the model on the second book, figuring he’d tell me there’d be an upcharge for that. He said to send him a vector image of what I wanted. I spent a couple of hours looking for an appropriate image and sent it to him.
Almost instantly, I got an email saying I had a Paypal refund. This was followed by a note from him saying that he couldn’t work with someone who didn’t respect him.
I’m still kind of scratching my head. I feel like there was something that I could have handled better to keep this thing from going off the rails. And I feel bad that he did all that work without remuneration. Although, to be honest, I’d feel even worse about paying him and winding up with nothing.
I’m planning to try this again with another cover artist.
I hope it turns out better.