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I love a good image which is why my website is littered with them. I wanted to create a book cover that featured an image that captured the feeling of my story. This was not as easy as I anticipated it to be.
After a few false starts, I participated in a 99 designs contest to find a book cover for Seeds of Change. 99 designs is an online website that allows a client to hire an artist one on one or to launch a contest. A contest allows any artist who is interested to submit one or more designs. I received 153 different versions of a variety of designs.
Why do a 99 designs book cover contest? I attempted to create my own cover but my design eye knew that I was not quite getting it. My graphic design skills have not been updated since my days using QuarkXpress for typesetting. That was a long time ago—a very long time ago.
I had an overabundance of ideas about what I wanted and knew that the only way for me to narrow it down was to see a variety of designs. Seeds of Change is a different sort of sci fi story and I wanted to express that in an image. This was quite a challenge. 99 design's brief process helped me to define what I was looking for. It was very comprehensive and forced me to describe what I was looking for in great detail. I was also able to upload other images and covers I liked to give the designers a visual cue to my style.
The good. I received a wide variety of ideas and found five designs that were professional enough that I knew I could use any of them. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the process of refining the designs, though commenting on each design was very time consuming. The other positive was that interacting with each designer and asking for changes quickly demonstrated the designer's ability to take direction and to interpret my ideas.
The not so good. There was nothing truly negative about my experience. I did receive a few copycat designs and more than a few that were very predictable but for the most part, I was impressed with the results. My biggest problem with the whole process was my codependent nature. I worried that I was making the artists work for no money. I winced every time I had to decline a design. I had to remind myself that the choice to enter a contest was theirs and my role was to be the client.
The takeaway. I love the design for Seeds of Change. It captures the soft science fiction, metaphysical, ecological and more female oriented themes of the novel. As a bonus, I have discovered several designers I feel confident would do a great job with future projects.
Tip: There is a star rating system which I quickly abandoned. I found that the artists reacted strongly to it—either by withdrawing a design that received less stars or by submitting designs that resembled the one with the most stars. I removed all the stars and communicated privately with the designers and received a greater variety of ideas.