Last week I didn’t do much at all through the week, I was getting back into a night work routine and there’s always an adjustment period, then on the weekend I accidentally did a sack of work. I say accidentally, but really I’ve been wrestling with a decision for a long time, and finally the dam broke and I started to move with the rushing water.
I have two compilations and ‘Crash,’ a prequel to the first Frank Mason series, ready to be published, all I need is covers for them. I have been putting out inquiries for a couple of months for a graphic artist, but I haven’t found anyone who has a style that fits the genres I’m looking to publish in or is in my price range.
I could go onto a freelance site and get cover designs made up, but I would not be able to guarantee a consistency of design for the series. I think consistency in the cover designs is important; I want to build a brand where people can recognise at a glance that it is my work. Of course I would be able to tell them what style and elements I wanted, and be in control of what the final cover looks like; but the thought of having to explain what I want over and over again (I’ll talk about my upcoming things in a minute and you’ll see this wouldn’t be a trivial amount of explaining) just fills me with a lack of enthusiasm.
There is also price to consider. I’m already paying for website hosting, email hosting, podcast hosting, and a music licence; not to mention one-off book buys, my new microphone, or the New Scientist or Analog subscriptions I keep. These costs are adding up, and I worry that the commitment I need to make to get and keep a graphic artist for the long term is a terrible financial decision. After all, I might not sell anything, let alone break even if I’m shelling out serious dollars for graphics work. At the moment the money for that comes from my day job, and the amount of work I’ll need for the year is a significant portion of my disposable income. I’m just not sure I can afford it. If I was already bringing in income then it becomes a factor of how long it would take to recoup the cost, I would have data to base an assumption on. At the moment I have no idea if a return on investment is even possible, let alone ‘worth it.’
So instead, I finally bit the bullet. I made up a cover for Crash myself. I know what you’re thinking. All the advice around writers making their own covers is: don’t. I spent a couple hours making a new social media banner and then making the cover of Crash, in total I spent 9½ hours on it. I haven’t used the design program before, so by the end I was already much more efficient than when I started, and I think the result is pretty good. Is it graphic artist quality? No. But, for a start I think it’s good enough.
My plans for the rest of this month and next year are to finish the two compilations I have ready now, plus Crash and The Case of the Girl in a Box – my Frank Mason prequels – before the end of the year. Then next year I want to do the first series (1 story per month) of Frank Mason and five more compilations. All told, between now and 2021, that’s 19 short fiction length stories. That’s a lot of covers, one quote I had would cost me $7,500 for the artwork. So screw it, I’m going to do it myself, and we’ll see what happens. After all, I can always change the covers at any time.
The picture in this post is the Frank element from the Crash cover; let me know what you think.