You’re Fired!

Written by larry on December 29th, 2013

Well, actually, it seems that I was. By my graphic artist.

One of my inspirations has definitely been Hugh Howey, a self-published author who has been quite successful. And one of Mr. Howey’s core tenets is that those who succeed at this are those who treat it like a business. So I’ve tried to do that, at least to the extent that someone who must engage in other activities in order to eat regularly can.

Like any other business, it’s inevitable that there will be setbacks. And I ran into one last week.

I’ve decided that the short stories I offer for sale individually should have covers. In reality that’s not quite a necessity, but despite the proverb, people do judge books by their cover. So I went out looking for a graphic artist.

Elance is really pretty amazing. In less than 48 hours, I received close to twenty replies from artists on every continent except Antarctica. I picked one in Serbia initially, but the language barrier made it difficult for me to express abstract concepts. Possibly this was my own limitation, but it was a limitation nonetheless. So we moved onto one from the states.

Communication went well initially. The artist had the required credentials, seemed to understand what I was looking for, and offered a reasonable price. This being the first time I’d ever tried this, I was surely a bit clumsy in communication, but there still seemed to be some rapport. I was surprised at the amount of guidance I needed to provide, but seeing as this was the first time around, I assumed that both I and the artist would be better at it for future covers. An acceptable final product was delivered, money changed hands, and I was ready to move onto the next one.

But apparently the artist wasn’t. I was told that the work took nearly ten times the anticipated effort, and that she had no interest in repeating the experience.

Given that I specified the task, and the artist specified the process and the price, I’m really not sure how I might have managed this differently. Could I have been clearer on what I wanted? Could I have managed the process more closely, and identified that we were off track earlier on? Or is this just the nature of working with ‘Creatives’, as they call them on Mad Men?

One thing I was definitely disappointed in was that I was left hanging for a week before the kiss-off. It’s the artist’s right to not take a project she doesn’t want. Good business practice dictates that the bad news should be delivered in a timely fashion. So does good manners. And in addition to the week lost, I’ve lost whatever time it will take to identify a replacement and bring them up to speed.

So I’m back to Elance. The effort I made bringing this artist up to speed on my likes, dislikes, and means of communication is lost. What I learned about the process, though, is something I get to keep. Hopefully it will be helpful the next time around.

And I’ll also admit that I’m curious to see how the next experience compares to the first. Maybe the third time will be a charm.

(In case you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, here’s the cover for Saimon’s Gift, planned to be released as a Kindle Short by the end of January (It was going to be mid-January, but, well… see above).

Saimon's Gift_small


Comments are closed.