My worth in hours…

As some of you know, I’ve done covers and/or typography on covers for other authors. I try to charge prices within people’s means. I’ve had to raise prices, too. All around me I read posts from independent authors who think artists charge too much for their work, including some authors I’ve done work for.

I rarely tell someone just how much work I do on a cover.

I’m proud of my covers. I’ve seen many of them in the Top 100 Paid lists on Amazon, so I know they are effective. This means the authors are making some decent money off their books—and a LOT more, over and over again, than what they paid me for cover and/or typography. (I do not begrudge them this at all, I am merely stating this as a natural fact.)

Covers, like promotions and editing and the computer and internet service and electricity, are part of the expenses of being a do-it-yourself author. (Doing it yourself also knows you KNOW when you have to outsource.) A good cover is 90 percent of what attracts a reader to click on the book and take a closer look. So why, then, are many authors more willing to drop exorbitant amounts of money on advertising promotions but whine and bitch and complain about spending more than 100 on a cover it cost the artist (at 45-80 dollars an hour, the going rate for freelance graphic artists, by the way–good ones, like me) :

  • two hours to search for and try fonts (and make sure they are legal to use on commercial projects)
  • four to five hours (or more!) looking for images and trying them out;
  • x hours cropping, compositing, applying effects;
  • two to ten hours creating an illustration from scratch;
  • Recovering that work after a power failure!
  • three days of Revisions at fifteen minutes to an hour apiece: client wants a new color; client changes mind, client goes another way, client finally decides to go with original…

I don’t always work on a project straight through. I have two or three going on at the same time, and usually, in between, I am doing other things. Sometimes you have to. Other times, I am working straight through, six or more hours a day on a single image, doing my utmost best to make the author go AHHHHH and cause potential readers to go “Hey, cool cover, it must be a good book, CLICK!” something I worry about a LOT more than slinging work out quickly to make money.

But I’m not making any money, either. As a matter of fact, I’m going to give up taking in cover art (except for a few people that have become my regulars), and go and get a day job now the economy is slowly coming back up.

Then again, my sister recently figured I should be charging anywhere from 600 to 1400 dollars for some of the work I do. She offered to be the one who does my billing since I have trouble telling people how much to pay me.

Maybe I should listen to her.

What do you think?

2 Responses to “My worth in hours…”

  1. Yes, you should definitely listen to your sister. And, no, you don’t charge enough for some of the work you do. You’re so talented and you should get a fair price for the masterpieces you produce.

  2. MaryN says:

    Your sister is correct, and yes, you should let her do your billing.

    No need to apologize or defend your prices. Your covers speak for themselves and if an author thinks he or she can do better on their own or paying someone else a smaller fee, let them go for it. I don’t think they’ll be able to find a more professional, attractive, and eye-catching cover design for a lower price.

    If you want to explain why your work is worth the cost, add some blurb to your site, like this:

    “90% of potential buyers are attracted by a book’s cover first. Zapstone Productions offers the finest in cover design to attract and hold the attention of those potential buyers.

    My designs use attractive, easy-to-read, and legal commercial-use fonts uniquely selected for your book. Cover images are selected especially for your work from original artwork or copyright-permitted (or appropriate wording) photographic images. I am a professional graphic artist who will ensure your book looks as good as anything released by a major publisher. Please check my catalog of cover images.”

    (Maybe a graduated fee scale of front panel image and layout only, full front cover design, full wrap, etc.)
    “I welcome queries but no sample images are created prior to payment of fees.”

    Just my two cents worth!

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