Design Competition: Want to Design My Next Cover? 213 Comments
If there is one thing I’ve learned from this blog, it’s that the readers here — that’s you — have some stellar ideas and skills.
For the next book, tentatively titled “Becoming Superhuman”, I would therefore love to invite any designers out there to throw their hat in the ring for the cover design, especially talented beginners who might not otherwise have a chance to work on a project with international reach.
This is a 7-day competition, and the clock is already ticking…
The last book is now in 35 languages, and I’m hoping the next book will be much bigger. I’ll be firing all cylinders and then some.
So here’s the deal: I’m not a corporate type, but I have to play nice with my publisher. Sooooo… I’m forbidden from making any big promises, and I need to make a few things clear. So here goes:
1. I will offer $250 to four of my favorite designs, but this doesn’t mean any of them will end up being the cover. There is a good chance all of them will be vetoed completely, so the $250 is offered as a good faith gesture. Obviously, if we do use your cover, you will get cover credit, fame and glory, and there is the possibility of a follow-on agreement.
2. If we borrow elements or concepts from your cover but don’t use the whole thing, I will make sure you are recognized and thanked, whether in some form of partial/conceptual credit or in the acknowledgments.
3. That said, the publisher’s in-house design team, a few freelancers, and I have been working on tons, and I mean tons, of different cover options. This means that there is a distinct chance we might have tried concepts you might try. Please don’t assume we stole it if things look similar. It’s not in my best interest to screw anybody, and it’d be idiotic to do it so publicly. That’s not how I roll.
4. By submitting your design mock-ups and cover ideas, you are agreeing to the following terms and conditions. Please read them here. It basically says that once you submit anything for evaluation purposes, you can’t sue me or my publisher. Unfortunately, in a world where people sue McDonald’s for pouring hot coffee on their own genitals, this lawyering is necessary to prevent any misunderstandings.
Best case scenario, you get $250, your cover on a huge international bestseller (awesome for a major portfolio jump), full cover credit, and all the perks that come with massive recognition.
Worst case scenario, you give it a shot, have something new for your portfolio, but don’t get recognition or money.
For those interested in submitting and giving this a shot, here you go! Just follow this link to 99Designs for all the juicy details…
For those who think I’m a jerk for offering the above, please feel free to protest by not submitting. Feel free to call me names, too. I find “sweetcakes” particularly offensive. Just ask yourself this first: would you submit a design if it would take you a few hours and it might be featured on a Times Square billboard with full credit, even if for no pay? If not, I’d consider you unique. If yes, then recognize there are benefits to certain projects besides the compensation. Not that this cover is comparable to Times Square, but for a designer looking to break into a new and lucrative niche (book covers), or an experienced designer who can kick out a good design quickly, it might well be worthwhile to give it a shot. Realize also that there is a good shot we’ll end up using an inhouse cover, so the $250 is intended as a good faith gesture.
Afterword – To the commenters who insist I’m exploiting the entire design community, I’d like to point out that, if you don’t participate by submitting, it is impossible for me to exploit you.
To those who suggest I write a book for free and then open it to the world, I’d like to quote blog reader Benedict, who commented below:
There’s something the naysayers all seem to have overlooked: Tim primary occupation is writing a first-class blog, an activity that earns his an annual salary of $0. (Income derived from the resulting kudos is something he has to work extra for.)
There are at least a dozen books worth of content on this blog, all of which I wrote for free. No even on spec — for free. My further thoughts on good and evil uses of spec use are below in my comments, which are highlighted in green. Here is my first comment:
I know there is a strong resistance in some designer communities against spec work, which is exactly what this is. I make no efforts to claim otherwise.
Here is where spec goes wrong: the prospective steals designs and, after someone has put their talent to work, offers nothing in return.
For the client who can offer value and not screw the designers they end up using, there is nothing wrong with spec work. If you’re in an advertising agency and want to get a high-profile client, what do you do? You offer spec designs and concepts to compete against other agencies bidding on the same project. Spec arrangements aren’t inherently evil at all, but the losses can be huge as a freelancer if you get screwed. Screwing people, including designers, is just fucked. No two ways around it.
But, can spec work be extremely valuable to someone who is looking for a high-visibility gig? Is it worth the risk that they might not win the bid/competition? For some, absolutely. For others who have a waiting list of clients and get paid in advance for work, perhaps not. It’s dependent on the individual, but spec has it’s place.
Think this post is controversial? Not compared to How to Tim Ferriss Your Love Life
Posted on April 4th, 2009