cover artist

Good business practice for those connected with writers and writing

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The writing world does not consist solely of writers.  There are many peripheral trades connected with writing, such as editing, covert art, promotion, marketing etc, and this means that if you are either a writer, or someone in one of these peripheral trades, you will at some point be working with someone else in the business in some capacity.  If you’re a writer/author, you might want to hire an editor, a cover artist, a marketing consultant or some other expert to help you.  Similarly, if you’re in one of these peripheral trades, you will be trying to sell yourself to writers/authors in the hope that they will hire you.

Once you get to the point of working with another person, whether for money or some other form of remuneration (experience or portfolio etc), you really should be putting certain good business practices into effect.  Many don’t, and as far as I’m concerned, it is unacceptable and inexcusable.  There are so many people out there all trying to sell their service, it’s no hardship to turn you down and look elsewhere if you don’t come up to par with basic good business practices.

If you’re working for an author, even if it’s to increase your experience, expand your portfolio, for a review, rather than money, you owe them a certain standard of behaviour.  Here are two of the most often overlooked things.

Remember you’re working for them, not the other way around.

If you’re an editor, marketing consultant, cover artist, proof reader etc, the writer/author is your customer and you should be grateful they have decided to ask you for a service thousands of others also offer.  Never act as if you’re doing them a favour by agreeing to work for/with them, there are many others doing what you do.

Keep in touch with them often or lose their business.

This is a big bugbear of mine.  If you agree to work for an author, then you owe them regular updates.  It simply is not good enough to agree to the work, and then not get in touch for weeks on end.  They won’t know if you’re actively working on their project, whether you’ve forgotten, gone on holiday, decided you don’t want to do it after all, or what the hell is going on, so you should tell them.  Even if you have no update to give, keep in touch just to let them know you’re still working on their project at the very least, twice a week.

I’ve had people agree to work for me, then I heard nothing for weeks, and when I finally emailed to ask what was going on, I got “oh I’m sorry, I’m too busy to do it after all.”  ARGH..!  Remember, if you behave like this, we will be only too happy to let others know of our experience working with you.

I’ve been party to many conversations with authors where the subject has been the bad business practice of one or more of these peripheral tradespeople, and it angers me to have been a victim myself.  It simply is not good enough, and despite the ethos of anonymity the internet offers us, good manners go a long way.

On The Sofa With – Stephen Cooney

Today, I am joined on the sofa by Stephen Cooney, an amazingly talented painter, who is responsible for many horror book and e-zine covers.

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How would you describe your artwork?

I would describe my artwork as sci fi/horror although I’m finding I’m painting more fantasy and drifting away from horror at the moment.

What medium do you use for your art?

I use acrylics on canvas.  I prefer to use them as oils tend to take a long time to dry, and the chemicals can get a bit too much.

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How do you get your inspiration?

Mainly from the publishers themselves, and I put in some ideas of my own as well.

When doing artwork for a book cover, how much control does the author have over the finished result?

Almost all of it unless a publisher contacts me instead of the author, but I like to get as much input from as many people as I can, it makes the job easier.

For those who may not have worked with an artist before, can you explain the process, from the author’s first request to the finished product.

Well what tends to happen is I’ll get a simple layout from a client and come up with as many ideas as possible from what they want, and come up with a rough drawing.  I will then transfer the drawing onto a canvas board.  I never draw the background as I tend to make that up completely as I paint; all my art is done that way.  As soon as the painting is completed I’ll send them a hi res photo of the art.  It’s as simple as that.

Apart from book covers, have you done artwork for any other projects?

I use to tattoos but gave that up to do illustration work.

What would be your dream project?

I don’t really have a dream project, although when I was younger I always wanted to do album covers for heavy metal bands.

How long does a book cover project usually take you?

Well a book cover can take up two to three weeks depending on how much detail is in the painting, but saying that, I can complete a painting in about a week if I have to.

What happens to the original painting once the book is out?

Once the original painting is done and the publishers have their copy, I wrap it in a protective film and it’s stored away until I decide to sell it or sell it as prints.  A lot of the authors like to own the original if they can.

When you’re not doing a project for someone else, do you paint for your own pleasure?

Blimey I can’t remember the last time I painted for myself, projects are coming in almost all the time.  I paint all the covers for Nightmare Illustrated.   That’s one painting a month.  James Ward Kirk is another publisher I do a lot of art for.  God there’s so many I can’t think, but as I finish one illustration another comes up, but I can’t complain, I love art.   If I can do any illustration then I will, but if I can’t fit it in then I will say sorry no can do.  The reason I say this is because I always get ” we thought you would be too busy. ”

Do you have a website?  How can people get in touch with you?

Not at the moment but I’m working on it but the beys way to get hold of me is either email  amandawestlake@btinternet.com or Facebook.  Steve.cooney.9@facebook.com

You can find Stephen on his facebook page here.

A Shoutout for JL Stratton, Cover Artist.

I want to give a big shout out for my awesomely talented cover artist, JL Stratton.

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This talented guy now has his own page here at my blog so all authors looking for a cover artist can get in touch with him.