Writers, Artists, and Cover Art

Today I was reading in a writers group and I saw someone recommend a site where indie writers can hire people to create covers for their books.  I’ve already settled that the next two books will have covers by the same artist as Escaping Paradise but there are other stories in the future.  What I found left me aghast.

This site had artist after artist selling complete works of art for as little as $10.

I know artists.  I’ve created art, even if not for sale.  I know what goes into creating a piece of art.  It’s worth $10 to talk to an artist about an idea!  These artists are taking mass loads of work and earning probably $7-$8/completed piece, and they give up all rights to that piece as well.

It’s almost impossible for artists to make their way anymore, and sites like this are why.  Sites like this are also why content writers and freelancers can’t get paid anymore.  These sites are all about exploiting people for their labor.  That they’re so popular is just another sign of the endemic philosophy in western culture that cheaper is better, no matter the cost to anyone else.  It’s the “I got mine, so why should I care?” mentality that has driven the US (and others) to the point of economic disaster more than once.

Artists deserve to not only be recognized for their work, but to be paid for it.  They can make your book cover in two hours?  SWEET!  Think about how you can’t and how long it would take for you to learn that skill.  It’s still worth only $10?  You’re not paying for something that’s mass produced and sold at WalMart.  You’re paying for a custom piece, made to your exact specifications.  Is that still only worth $10?

If you think it is, then take your next piece of work.  You’ve spent years mastering the skills.  You’ve spent months, or maybe years, perfecting the piece you want a cover for.  Are you going to sell it for a total of $10 and never make another dime, on purpose?  I think that no one would do that willingly.

I get that there are some who are just not able to pay more for a cover.  Did you know that art students will often do work for cheap?  If you can swing $10 a month, they might let you make payments and give you the piece when you’ve paid for it.  Also, many artists are willing to take payments.  Top end artists will run hundreds for a piece of cover art, but new artists will be much more affordable.

I’ll close this by suggesting that any writers who see this get out there and make a relationship with the artists around you.  Get to know them.  Writers need artists.  Artists benefit from knowing writers who bring them work and spread their names.  Never offer an artist $10 for a cover, and never ask them to do it “for the free publicity.”  That’s just being cheap and selfish.  And really, if your story isn’t worth a cover that costs more than $10, what are you saying about how much you believe in yourself as a writer?


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