by Greg Strandberg (@gpstberg)
We are pleased to welcome back Greg Strandberg. Greg’s last guest post here on TheBookDesigner.com was 7 Top eBook Blog Tour Sites. It was quite informative and very popular with our readers. Today Greg discusses another way to have ebook covers designed. I think you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say.
I put out a couple books a month and that means I’m always in need of covers. None of my books are very successful, however, so that means I don’t have a lot of money to throw around.
So what do you do when your writing output is high but your income not so much? You find creative and affordable ways of get your eBooks out there, that’s what you do.
And when it comes to eBook covers, many people think you need to spend a lot.
I’ve got news for you – you don’t! I’ve put out eighteen books this year but I haven’t paid $1,800 for eBook covers, not even $900. I haven’t spent $450 either. No, for 18 eBook covers I paid $230.
So how did I do this? Simple – with Freelancer contests.
In case you don’t know, Freelancer is a website based out of Australia that allows employers to post projects that freelancers can work on. They’ve got more than 11 million users and about 6 million projects posted. And that means there are people from all over the world willing to work on your eBook covers for pennies.
Yeah, they work dirt cheap, and we’ll get into this later. For now, let’s discuss how Freelancer contests work, what it takes to get started with one, and how you can start getting great eBook covers at extraordinary prices.
Setting Up a Contest
Setting up a Freelancer contest is pretty simple. You can choose the skills you want, such as Photoshop Design and Illustration. People with those skills can then see your contest and submit entries. (Click images to enlarge.)
Here’s a contest I recently started for a “Funny Horror Novel” cover. I give a brief description of what I want, the size specifications, and anything else I think might help designers get that idea in my head onto a cover you see on Amazon.
I’ve done a lot of contests like this, so right when I put one up I’ll go back to my previous contests screen, which looks like this:
I’ll click on each one of those old contests, allowing me to see all the past designers that submitted entries before. Now I want to notify those designers that I have something else they could work on.
Here are two of my old contests, one which I did for myself and another that I did for someone else:
I’ll click on most of those designers, and it’ll bring up their profile page. What I can then do is invite them to my new contest. This is how I regularly get dozens of entries on my contests, and sometimes 100 or more.
Once you get a contest going you can talk to designers and tell them what’s working and what’s not. Then it’s easy for them to change things before you pay them. I find this a lot better than getting a cover from a designer, one you can’t really change once they’re finished.
Isn’t This Taking Advantage?
Doesn’t just one person get paid? Yep, that’s how it works. You might have dozens of designers working for hours that won’t end up with a penny.
So in that regard perhaps you’re taking advantage of these people. Perhaps you’re even hurting some more experienced designers in more developed countries, cutting them out of a wage let’s say.
Alright, let’s say that. So what? I can’t help it if places like Indonesia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam are poor and the people can live on $20 there pretty good for a week or longer. When I lived in China many peasants lived on less than $1,000 a year.
If you want to look at it like that then you might actually be helping these workers. I do know I’m helping myself, and that’s what business is often about. I’m getting a good product at a great price, one that allows me to continue my business.
What’s more, I think it might actually help some people. Maybe there are some good designers out there that are just getting started, or perhaps even lack confidence. Doing a few entries, responding to feedback, and making necessary changes goes a long way in having a successful career in design, or any other creative field. And a winning entry might just propel someone to turn a hobby into a money-making venture, and one day a reliable business.
Of course these are all assumptions, and it’s safe to assume many designers could be held back as well, perhaps always taking jobs for $10 or $20 when they could be getting $100 or $500 or more. It’s hard to say, but like many things in life, if you refuse to engage in a design contest like this, it sure isn’t going to stop others from doing so.
Learning about eBook Cover Design
So besides getting a cover at a great price, is there any other ways a Freelancer contest could benefit you? God yes!
It’s really interesting how much you can learn about cover design when you do enough of these contests. I’ve completed more than twenty contests in the past nine months and I’ve seen more than a thousand covers in that time.
Most of them were variations of the same cover designs, designers copying each other or just making small tweaks here and there. You see what small changes can do, what placing text in a different way can look like, and how fonts can really make a difference. Besides getting good covers at great prices you’re getting a free crash course in eBook cover design. Not a bad deal.
One thing to watch out for is what images are being used. I’ve done many contests where I point out an image or provide one, and things work out great. When I’m not sure what I want and let designers choose, many try to skirt corners by choosing copyrighted images. This is something you’ll have to watch out for, especially if a cover looks just a little too good.
Overall, however, these contests are something for authors to think about, especially those just getting started. You might be a little cash-strapped, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t know much about Photoshop design. Letting someone else take the reins is a good way to learn something, get what you need, and save money in the process.
Greg Strandberg is the author of several novels and nonfiction books including his latest horror novella, Florida Sinkholes. He lives in Montana with his wife and young son. To learn more about Greg, visit his website Big Sky Words.
Photo: bigstockphoto.com Amazon links contain my affiliate code.