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Sketchfest and Dreaming of Covers

Sketchfest is still on--there's a bunch of art uploaded already, I encourage you to go look.  The artists range from beginners to very skilled, and everyone is welcome to leave prompts or to join in and sketch.

Thinking about art, recently, always reminds me I want to get some of my stories available as e-books.  To do this I need cover art, and the day job hasn't given me time to try to level up in art and create it myself. 

If I'm not to create it myself, then I'll need to get cover art from someone else, which has had me pondering payment for art.  Now, I know that Ms. Rusch has talked about the foolishness of not simply hiring cover art, that giving away royalties for your art is, in the long run (if the book sells) not as good an investment financially for a writer as buying it outright.  Of course, she doesn't point out that if you never sell enough to make up your costs, that doesn't matter at all--and the introduction of easy self-publishing does not, in any way, guarantee sales.  I also thoroughly approve of Torn World's policy of treating all creators--poets, writers, and artists--equally, so that artists get royalties on the Torn World Anthology.

Other things have impacted my musings.

Talking at a recent convention with a traditionally-published author who is glad that she could put her out-of-print books up as e-books and, as she said, "there's no reason to ever let them go out of print again".  So what if she sells just one or two books in a month?  That's a trickle of income for her and happiness for her fans, who can now buy books they couldn't before, to fill in the holes in their collections.

No reason to ever let them go out of print.  That sounds really good to me.

Then, I thought more--if a work is in print forever, and I owe somebody else part of the royalties, then I have to keep accounting records forever--and keep track of where my artists and/or co-authors are forever too. 

Um...that's not so attractive. That is, in fact, rather appalling.  I hate the paperwork part of this business--it's part of why I didn't make my ten submissions per month.  I do nothing but paperwork at my day job, and I want to do creative stuff once I get home and relax a bit.  

The more I think about it, the more I'd rather take the gamble of sinking my money into buying the right to use the art for my cover outright.  By doing that, I'm buying more than art.  I'm buying freedom from spending my time on administrivia that would be (for me) decidedly an unpleasant chore.

Now I guess I should start considering who to hire, and when I can afford to do it.  Happily, looking at art is not an unpleasant chore!

This entry was originally posted at http://wyld-dandelyon.dreamwidth.org/196130.html. Be welcome to comment wherever you prefer.

Comments

laylalawlor
Jan. 22nd, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
To be honest, for small jobs, buying work outright rather than entering into a royalty agreement is my preference on both sides of the issue -- as an artist doing work-for-hire, and as a creator working with other creators on collaborative projects. This is not to say that I have a problem with the royalty system, nor is it a slam against royalty-based payment agreements that I'm currently involved with (like the one with EMG). And it depends on how large the royalties are likely to be -- if I were working with a large company, with the potential for lots of sales, I think I'd rather have royalties than a lump-sum payment.

But, as an artist, I have gotten screwed over in the past by creators who hired me on the basis of royalties and then went bankrupt or vanished or otherwise were unable/unwilling to hold up their end. The smaller the company, the more likely this is to happen -- "no advance, pays royalties" is a big red flag anymore for me when I'm looking for illustration work. And on the flip side, as a writer who has considered hiring artists or illustrators for some of my projects that I don't wish to illustrate myself, I would MUCH rather do a simple, one-time payment and then tie a neat bow on our relationship rather than getting myself entangled with an artist for years and years.

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