Hating Confrontation (The Rest of the Story)

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

When last we met, I shared how I hated confrontation, and specifically the back-and-forth with a designer re: my book cover. So here is what has transpired since. 

Oh, wait! First, a little backstory. 

I sort of lost it when I got the last covers. I’d spent hours writing an email, very carefully explaining what I wanted and why the designs I was sent were not hitting the mark. And I’d like to add that in the comments of my last post, our WOW! editor, Angela Mackintosh, made an excellent suggestion and one I’d followed. To wit, send screenshots of book covers that are appealing and why. That way, the designer will have a better idea of what is expected and desired. 

It’s so time-consuming, scrolling through hundreds of book covers! Anyway, the designer had not produced what I considered anything close to the samples I’d sent. AGAIN. So I sat down and wrote a scathing, blistering email addressing every concern and frankly, it got a little (and by little, I mean a lot) personal.

I did not send that email. 

Once all the frustration poured out, I found I could consider the problem a bit more…shall we say rationally? (Because that email may have tipped into irrational.) I waited a few days and sent a more pithy and mostly not-at-all personal email. 

I included a cover that I liked from their very own website and wrote the following:

I put that cover above—it's one from your website's portfolio but I could have included dozens more from ********—because that's the kind of quality I keep expecting to see. After five unworkable covers, I'm wondering what to do next... Try another designer? Use a premade cover and refund the difference? Or refund my entire payment? Please let me know where we go from here—thanks! 

Within a few days I heard from my project manager. She apologized that the concepts hadn’t worked and said that, if I agreed, they’d like to start over with a completely new designer. (The timeline would be impacted, of course, though the timeline had already blown way by.) 

Now here’s the thing. My biggest issue with this company had been that I felt the assigned designer did not have the skill set to make the kind of covers that I’d seen plastered all over their website. And I feel like no matter who you are—newbie indie author or best-selling indie author—paying the fee for a custom book cover should get one a professional designer (and product). 

But here’s the other thing. I knew this company did excellent work and I suspected that they would not want to refund the money. So I felt like I had a pretty good chance of getting a senior designer who could actually design the concept I wanted and not a cut-and-paste mess. 

And you know what? He—or she—just sent me excellent cover concepts. So after a few tweaks, I’m hoping for a successful and happy ending to, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

~Cathy C. Hall (with fingers crossed)


Angela Mackintosh said...

Right on, Cath! :) Good for you for standing up for what you want to represent YOUR product. I'm glad you sent screenshots of book covers you like. As a designer myself, that's the first thing I ask, as well as colors, images, etc. so we're on the same page. I'm really surprised they didn't. But it sounds like things are cookin' now. Let us know how it goes! I'm excited for you. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Thanks, Ang! I just approved the book cover so onwards! (And eeks, what's next??! So much to do!)

Dana Michaels said...

Yikes! I had the same experience a year ago, even though I completed the company's form asking detailed questions about my story, characters, settings, etc. AND, like you, I sent samples of covers with content and style similar to what I wanted. I'm sure my designer was either a novice or had never done a contemporary romance cover before. The whole experience was infuriating.

I don't plan to hire anyone who makes me go through a "project manager" again. I want direct contact with the artist/designer. It took three months and a similar "experienced designer or my money back" request, before I finally got a different designer and an acceptable cover.

A few months after I published, I saw a cover on another book that was nearly identical to mine! I can't help but think the same designer just modified mine to fit another author's setting, and perhaps you and I hired the same company.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yikes! I wish this situation was unusual, Dana, but from my research, it's all too common. To hire a designer--and have direct contact--can be cost prohibitive so instead, most of us in indie publishing use a company. And companies subcontract designers who are all over the board in experience.

Fortunately, you and I didn't settle, but I can't help wondering how many people get stuck paying for inferior work because they don't know they CAN refuse the product and demand money back.

Wish you every success moving forward!

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