Although I’ll hopefully be submitting “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” to a traditional publisher instead of going the self-publishing route, I’ve started designing the cover to help give the project a visual theme as I work through the last of the text. Whether or not this ends up being the final version is irrelevant at this point. It just helps me with the overall package of the book. Instead of working on print outs, I order proofs from Amazon because I am able to edit my work far easier with a physical proof in my hands. Seeing it as an actual book helps me to see how the final version is going to look and I thus become far more critical of my work. The version I’ll hand off to my editor will be as complete and accurate as I can make it.
I decided to reach out for a designer to help with the cover and registered with Elance.com. I received numerous bids for the project and one in particular came in from India. As this wasn’t going to be the final version, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. After a week, I started receiving drafts in my email and one in particular stood out. It was of a zombie sitting on a bench with the Grim Reaper standing behind it. The artist told me it was an original piece and it really highlighted the themes of the book. I gave him the go ahead to put a final version together and I had the money put in escrow. In the meantime, I was poking around online and low and behold, I found the picture of the zombie on a stock footage photo site based out of Australia. I reached out to the artist one more time to clarify that it was indeed an original piece and he swore it was. When I forwarded him the links to the image he immediately got defensive and said how was he supposed to know it was from another site. The licensing was double the price he was charging me for the cover, so I knew he had just ripped it off. I pulled the plug on it and went on my way.
Had I intended this cover to be for distribution, I would have gotten into some pretty hot water as I had inadvertently not paid the licensing fees for the image or its distribution. As an author, especially if you are self-publishing, it is imperative that you make sure your cover designer is using images with the right licensing. Ultimately it is on you to make sure that the book you are putting out into the world has all of the legal i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The big thing to keep in mind is you get what you pay for. If the cover price seems to good to be true, there is probably a good reason why.
As I have said on numerous occasions, writing the book is only half of the puzzle.