There are many things which come to mind when I think about cover design. This should not be one of them:
But after the experience I have had over the last eight weeks, I am embarrassed to admit that this scene from O Brother Where Art Thou may actually be the first thing that would come to mind if you asked me about covers right now.
Unfortunately, as with many things in life, "you get what you pay for". And let me tell you, guys, I got taken for a ride. I'm going to do my best to keep this brief. If you would like more details please let me know. I hate doing this to someone. But I hate the idea that what has happened to me could happen to any of you even more.
In short: "Buyer Beware!".
Here is a list of the unsatisfactory experiences that I have dealt with in working with this artist:
1) Cover Never Received. This is, of course, the big one. I hired Ms. Stroube to design my cover on the 6th of July. I paid her in full on the 7th of July. I last heard from her on the 27th of August. And my cover was "due" on the 31st of August.
This is unacceptable. I gave Ms. Stroube nearly two months to complete the cover for my novel. The majority of that time was spend (by me) wondering what the heck was going on and essentially playing mail tag.
It is now the 4th of September. I have not received a cover. I have not received an e-mail from Ms. Stroube in response to my last e-mail to her. And quite frankly, I am not impressed.
2) Poor Communication Skills / Technical Issues: On the 7th of July Ms. Stroube told me that she would be sending me a list of potential ideas for the cover of my novel so that we could figure out what kind of design would work best. I did not receive any form of discussion actually related to my cover until the 23rd of August.
This was after nearly two months of some of the absolute worst "mail tag" I have ever had to deal with. The first few days, during which I thought I would be receiving the ideas so that I could share them with my readers, we conversed back and forth about everything *but* my cover. Then, for a couple weeks, Ms. Stroube seemed to completely disappear.
I figured that the level of conversation between us as abnormal for the situation and shrugged it off. She had "ages" to design my cover, I figured. But between her unclarity about what she was sending me, the fact that her "due date" file got "deleted", the fact that she became unable to respond to e-mails from my primary account and the fact that I have not heard from her in over a week, am I unreasonble in being suspicious that I just got scammed?
I would not want to see anyone else go through a situation like this. And I certainly have not had "fun" dealing with it.
3) Disregard for important design related questions and design preferences: I am not certain whether my character, Sarena, is impossible to design for, or whether I've just had a very bad design experience. I do know that Ms. Stroube either ignored or was unable to pay attentions to details about the character that she specifically asked me for. (She wanted to know what colors Sarena would wear. I told her light purple, light blue or pink, or deep red or green since my book takes place around Christmas. The models I received images for were dressed in black and dark brown.)
I do know, for absolute certain, that she completely ignored my questions about typography (font choice and placement of my name and the book title, for those not familiar with the word). This made me extremely angry as it's something that I care a lot about. It may seem a little obsessive, but the text choices that accompany the artwork on a cover play a huge role in the overall artistic design.
I could go on and on, listing things that have happened in the past several weeks which have aggravated me about this situation. I can tell you right now -- and this is coming from *me*, guys. How often do I get mad about anything? -- that this working relationship has been damaged beyond any hope of repair. I will be hiring a new artist and hope to put this mess behind me.
But what I will leave you with is this:
Ms. Stroube, of Dreamscape Covers, took my money. That's fine. That's how business works. However:
Ms. Stroube / Dreamscape Covers has failed to provide me with a cover by the appointed due date.
Ms. Stroube / Dreamscape Covers has failed contacted me regarding the fact that she has failed to provide the service I hired her for by the date that we agreed on.
Ms. Strouble / Dreamscape Covers has failed to respond to my last e-mail to her, which should have received a prompt response because it was feedback on two potential cover models.
So now, I leave you with this. The two stock images that I just paid $115 dollars for.
This has been an expensive and painful lesson. Please don't make my mistake. If you are hiring someone to do any type of artistic or design work via the internet, research each option well. There are a lot of utterly fabulous artists out there. But there are also people who are either out to scam others, or who are for whatever reason incapable of completing the work they have been hired for.
I will never truly know whether I got scammed or whether something else happened in this situation. What I do know is that working with Ms. Stroube and her company started out as a great idea but has, over the course of the summer, turned out to be an absolute nightmare.
Let's hope my next post about cover design is more cheerful. :) It's pretty damn sad that something I've dreamed about my entire life -- my first cover for the first book -- has ended up like this. But I will not let it keep me down. And I will not let it keep my book from being finished.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Do you have any tips to share that can help people avoid situations like mine? Please feel free to post in the comments.