Last night someone posted in one of the groups I am in for Facebook that she was having a contest for the cover of her to-be-released book (the first in a new series) and she posted a link to a completely new website and blog which only had a few short pages on it. I read the information on the contest only to be very disturbed and a little offended.
- The "prize" was to get a credit in the book and a backlink or perhaps a few on that site.
- No financial award at all even though the work of creating the specific artwork would take at least several hours and perhaps several days depending on the level of detail or type of art.
- If the writer doesn't like any of the work submitted for the "contest", no one would get any credit or backlinks.
- By submitting for the "contest" you agree to give a license to the writer to use the artwork in anyway the writer wants to for the book.
In general, there has been a trend that creative work is treated as something without sufficient worth to be paid for not even a small amount. Instead of getting a few hundred dollars for very specific artwork licencing, someone is asking for it to be created for NOTHING!!! Perhaps I should have a contest for a professional blog design to for free in exchange for a link on a page on my site. Of course I'll want to meet very specific criteria not just a pro theme already out there! Oh yeah, if I don't like it you did all the work for nothing too! See what I mean?
If you ALREADY had created artwork and wanted to exchange it for a backlink and credit, I'd say it is up to you to give your work away, but at least you aren't working for free on someone else's project that could make them hundreds or thousands of dollars later on (and the publicity won't be worth much if they don't).
Now for the "crucial business" perspective. I know that one tactic for promoting an online business especially for bloggers is to offer a free information product as a sample to get more work, but this does not make sense for art nor in this case.
- A visual artist can have an online portfolio with small (not print resolution) artworks for people to browse just as a writer can offer a free chapter excerpt of a book.
- The free product of an artwork will probably have a small credit with perhaps the URL of the artist website somewhere by the copyright statement. It is not like how most books have an about the author page. How often do you look to see who created the cover art for a book? Normally they are paid to create specific artwork or stock photos or public domain images are used.
- Free artwork for a book cover will just make the writer's product look good. It won't be a big source of traffic like it will be for the writer. The writer's name will be on the cover not the artist's name. How many sales do e-books without cover art get? I bet they get fewer sales! Isn't that worth paying your artist for his or her hard work?
What about guest posts isn't that the same you ask? Lets be honest. The typical guest post someone makes on a blog only takes a few minutes to write and the credit for the post with link and probably your small photo will be beside it. Special artwork for a book cover will take at least a few hours to make and the credit will be somewhere else.
If you are offering a free e-book it is normally in exchange for someone to sign up to your newsletter or to get more readers to your blog (they have to go there to download it). No one has to go to a website to the the art on a book cover. It is right there on the front of the book.
Now, it is your turn. Add your comments. Are you a little offended by the "contest" too or do you think it is no big deal and want to know where you can sign up?