Setting Up a Design Brief for a Cover Contest (Part III)

Wow, I thought I’d covered just about everything in my two-part blog on running cover contests. I was wrong. Since then two more items have come to my attention – very important items: copyright and 1-on-1’s.

Copyright: When you buy the rights to use someone’s design for your book cover, that is all you are entitled to do: use that specific image for your cover and promotions. It does not give you the right to distribute the title/logo that artist created for you to other artists for the purpose of designing new covers for the series. Seriously, this is a huge no-no. If you think the title/logo they created for you is distinctive enough that you wish to use it as-is, then set up a 1-on-1 with that artist and arrange to purchase the logo as a separate element.

Which brings us to …

1-on-1s: A 1-on-1 is when you set up negotiations with an individual artist for a design. After a successful cover competition, 99Designs will even notify you that you should consider working with the same author in the future using their 1-on-1 option. I won a contest recently, and the author said up front he was interested in working with me in the future so that his three-book series would have a cohesive look to it. He also said he might be interested in having me redo some older covers of his from a previous series. Awesome! Also, very smart on his part. Why? Let us explore the benefits.

  • As already stated, you gain a consistent look to your series. For example, pop over to Amazon and take a look at the cover for Susan Kaye Quinn’s Third Daughter It’s the first in a series and sports an eye-catching cover promising steampunk and a setting in India. There are additional books in the series and they all utilize the same artist, using the same style. You see one of those books and you will not mistake it for anything else.
  • You’ve worked with this artist before so you know they’re reliable and you know what to expect out of them. You’ve developed (hopefully) a friendly working relationship. Maybe you’ve even connected on Facebook or other social media. It just makes setting up a business arrangement easier if you deal with the same people.
  • Since there isn’t a competition going on, you can communicate directly with the artist and shoot ideas off of one another. You even have the option of sending excerpts or even a full manuscript to the artist to help them along. When it comes down to it, it’s all about good communication.
  • Saves you time. The contests go on for a certain period of time and even if you’ve spied the cover of your dreams, your obligated to let the entire thing play out. If you’re working directly with one artist, the minute the both of you agree on a design, you’re good.
  • Saves you money. If you start a contest with a $200 prize, you’ll pay 99Designs $100 on top of that. If you do a 1-on-1 with an artist, they take a much smaller fee. A $200 payment to the author will cost you only $15 in handling fees through 99Designs, saving you $85 – woot!

Okay, I think that covers it—again. At least until next time. P

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