I promised to get back to writing about either self-publishing or happiness by today, and I guess I’m writing about both.
My book layout and cover are done! I cannot believe it. The book cover is gorgeous and the interior layout is even better. These two things, however, did not come about without their drama, and there is a lesson in all of this for freelancers and employers. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
As mentioned before, I hire most of my service providers through elance.com. I very much like their structure and payment system, and have (for the most part) found the people on there to be highly skilled and reasonably priced.
Then, I hired the cover artist.
I am not one of those authors who sent someone my book and said, “Figure out what the cover should look like.” I created the entire cover by hand, photographed it, then photographed all the elements individually and sent those. All I needed was someone with the photoshop skills and eye for detail to put it all together beautifully and appealingly. More importantly, I needed someone to keep in touch with me.
Long story short, nearly six weeks after being engaged, the cover artist vacated the job, claiming I was impossible to work with. In my range of professional careers, managing or overseeing dozens and dozens of workers, I have only ever had three employees declare that I am impossible. Two of them were completely incompetent, and one was abnormally lazy.
I only have two requirements of the people I manage: competence and communication. And an abundance of either one can forgive a minor absence of the other. Do you know what made the cover artist declare me impossible? Because I told him how frustrated I was that after the FOURTH email asking to move the pen in the photo to the left, it had still not been moved to the left. He also took 3 to 5 days to reply to most emails. Awesome.
By contrast, a week after I had hired him, I hired Ramesh Kumar P. to do the interior layout. OMFreakingG – what a difference. The first pass almost made me cry, not only because it exceeded all of my expectations, but because I got it two days after hiring Ramesh. Two days! And the work was gorgeous!
Now, it was gorgeous, but not perfect. I sent notes, Ramesh sent another pass, I sent another set of notes, he sent another pass – a total of ten, I believe, each needing just minor adjustments, but they mattered a great deal to me. I never waited more than 24 hours to hear from him, and when the cover artist quit, Ramesh sent a genuinely kind note expressing his sympathy, knowing how frustrated I was by the setback. I will work with him on everything I ever publish from now on.
That left me without a cover artist, but luckily, a friend heard I was in this state and offered up her 20-year old son, Joshua Barragan, who has a degree in animation and knows photoshop. The appeal of this option was being able to sit next to him while he worked, and try different layout options and get it perfect, pixel by pixel. Total time spent with Josh – about four hours. Total paid — $20 MORE than I would have paid the original artist. Value – PRICELESS!
The original artist did me a huge favor. Had he not quit when he did, I might have settled for his mediocre work and had no idea how good this book could look. Everything happens exactly when and how it’s supposed to, and as long as I remember that, I will always be happy.
So, the cover was sent to my attorney to trademark and the book is being uploaded to CreateSpace today to start the publishing process. I can’t believe it’s all finally happening. I should get the Kindle and ePub files from Ramesh in the next day or two, which means the eBook will probably be available even sooner.
I will keep you all posted. In the meantime, here is the cover I’ve been waiting for since February. Hope you like it!