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  1. #1
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    Cover art for a book

    Hey all. I'm in the middle of writing a novel, and I've considered commissioning some artwork for the cover. However, I'm not exactly certain what the standard price is. I've seen a lot of price tags for art by person, page, or canvas (typically for inked characters). Obviously the price of concept art is privately negotiated, so that isn't much help.

    Would it be better to offer royalties (considering I'm self publishing) or a combination of both? What is typically a fair price for artwork that is going to be redistributed (As a book cover, of course) as opposed to art for private use?

    I'm not looking for something crazy, mind you, but similar in complexity and style to this:

    Cover art for a book

    This isn't a request for a bid, mind you (I'll drop that in the proper thread). I'm just genuinely curious about what is considered a reasonable rate for this type of art.

    Also, what is the typical turn around time? I understand everyone works at a different pace, but is 3 months considered too little time?


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  3. #2
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    It depends if you want a good job done. That sounds like a clever-dick answer but it's the truth. You'll get people who'll do it for free, or $20, but the result will be shit. If you seek out a decent artist, give them a comprehensive spec, negotiate and agree a timescale and contract then you'll likely get good value for money. You will be paying out what you might view as a considerable sum, especially when you've had people saying all day they'll do it for $10, but good art isn't cheap and cheap art isn't good.

    As well as depending on the artist the fee would depend on the complexity and content of your requirements. What you've got there is concept art (probably fan concept, at that) and whilst it's fine for what it is, it's not suited for a book cover.

    Bearing in mind I don't know your spec, I'd say if you get great art for less than four figures ($) you've got a good deal. And whilst $1000 is low for a cover in corporate terms, IMO it's a fair offer for a self-publishing cover. Others might disagree with that.

    Royalties. Forget them. No offence, but unless you're one in a billion, or an established author with a following, there won't be any profit and therefore no royalties. You're asking an honest question but royalties are sometimes offered by people trying to con new artists into believing they'll get payment. Avoid ever mentioning royalties.

    Three months is very generous. Personally I'd rather have a tighter deadline as when I have something measured in months I tend to leave the work until the last week and then get pissed off that I hadn't done it earlier. Bear in mind, though, that if you're going for decent quality then that artist is unlikely to be able to start right away. In terms of actual work, speaking personally, two weeks would be more than enough.

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  5. #3
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    Thanks, Baron. That actually helps. I was looking into the $350 to $500 price range, but at least I know that I can negotiate a bit with the quality.

    I brought up royalties because I plan on producing a 6mm game system based off the book. Thus, the art would most likely be recycled to some extent. Of course, if the book and game work out, I'd obviously be buying more art anyway.

    I've seen the $20 and $50 art, and it's not the quality need for a book cover. As far as the attached image, yeah it's fan concept art. But it's roughly the quality I'm looking for (a bit more detail in the background would be nice) so it's probably a bit under what industry standard is for covers.

    Considering what I've seen of other Sci-Fi books though, the genre standard is pretty low. I'm not certain if that is due to low book sales inspiring lower budget cover art, but I've noticed most sci-fi covers are pretty bad. Then again, maybe my idea of good art is radically different?

    Either way, thanks for the heads up.

  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by twopounder View Post
    I brought up royalties because I plan on producing a 6mm game system based off the book. Thus, the art would most likely be recycled to some extent. Of course, if the book and game work out, I'd obviously be buying more art anyway.
    Some artists might charge you more to use their artwork in things other than the actual book cover. So if you plan on printing the art anywhere else, posters and advertisements for the book etc. or a game like you mentioned, then something to remember when you are coming up with a contract is to be clear about what exactly you will have the right to use the artwork for.

  7. #5
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    Baron gives solid advice.

    If you plan to use your cover art in more than one publication (including promotions, games etc.) you should have an agreement with the illustrator specifying what are the acceptable areas of use, and what rights are transferred to you, for what period, at what compensation for the artist. Defining clearly what you expect from the artist, what you are paying, what you may do with the art, what you can't, and what is subject to a future agreeement if you want to do it later, in writing, and having you both sign it can save you a whole ton of nastiness later.

    No one serious will work for a promise of royalties from a self-published book. You could snag any number of beginners by it into working for free, if you are cynical enough, but it's not nice. Better pay as for hired work, and agree on royalties for the case that one-in-a-billion ticket wins and your book makes bestseller lists.

  8. #6
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    Hmm, maybe I should rephrase the royalty sentence. My intention was not to say "royalties only" but something like:

    1 time payment

    smaller 1 time payment with royalties

    1 time payment with royalties for future use (EG 5% of sales for future books with featured art).

    I have no intention of offering hopes and dreams as payment

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