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Would you Like to Design my Book Cover?

EDIT – You can see the winning cover here as well as 50 of the entries and my reflections on the pretty punchy comments discussion that this post generated.

My first book, Moods of Future Joys, is still my best-selling and most popular book (currently averaging 5-stars on Amazon after 83 reviews).

My publisher, Eye Books, is about to re-launch the book, complete with a new epilogue and 8 pages of colour photographs to give it a new burst of life. I’m really pleased about this. But I am particularly pleased that they have agreed to let me invite readers of this blog to design the cover.

It would mean a lot to me if someone who enjoys my blog or books has the chance to get their design on the cover of my book. (Hopefully whoever wins will also want to do the front cover of Thunder and Sunshine in the coming months too.)

I hope this is an opportunity for someone to get their design work out onto an already-established and respected book. I’ll showcase your work on my blog too. Experience has shown me that this will almost certainly lead to  future pieces of work for you. I’m not comfortable at all for asking people to do cheap work [EDIT: Can I redirect people to this follow-up post? http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/spec/], so please just ignore this if it’s not your thing. Please only get involved if it’s fun for you or if you think it will be worth your while!

But if you like the idea of coming up with something creative and fresh for the book, then please read on…

So here is the plan:

  • I’m inviting anyone to submit a design for the new cover of Moods of Future Joys.

  • The deadline for first draft submissions is the evening of Friday December 6th.

  • Short-listed entries will then be invited to respond to feedback from me and submit their final entry by the evening of Tuesday December 10th.

  • The winning cover design will go to print on December 11th.

It’s a really short window of time but I hope some of you might be inspired to give it a go!

If you are interested, please read this document which has all the information you’ll need. The old version is HERE for you to look at.

Good luck!

sunset pipe smoker

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Comments

  1. I really like the second image in the Flickr collection of book covers, your nostalgic original.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alastairhumphreys/sets/72157638173703274/

    It should be your new cover Alastair! I have read both your books of this trip and think that this cover is one that would make people pick it up. I certainly would. The image sums up the travel theme very well.

    I think you have a winning cover here already, perhaps with a few modifications.

    Reply
  2. I really really disagree with people asking for non charitable free work in the guise of a competition..

    http://www.nospec.com/faq

    “Why should I pay a professional to do work I might like when I can get lots of submissions from a contest?

    For one thing, you’re deceptively promoting free labour, a disreputable practice in itself. You impede the designer from earning a proper salary. Would you work for free with the hope of possibly being compensated? Also consider that contests largely attract inexperienced designers who are under pressure due to unreasonable time restraints and competition. You run the huge risk of ultimately receiving poorly executed designs that inadequately represent your business amongst your competitors and for future customers. It could end up costing you in the long run in terms of lost revenue among other factors. A professional will work toward developing effective tailored design solutions reflective of their years of training and experience — part and parcel of the job.”

    You even say you feel uncomfortable doing this. By putting “please just ignore this if it’s not your thing.” it isn’t a get out either. Please take a read of the link and maybe hopefully you will have a rethink. I assume you are not giving your book away for free?

    Apologies, as I do not know you but this sort of practise really angers me as it destroys the very roots of the industry this competitions proclaim to promote. The carrot on a string of future work is nonsense as by getting free work as it devalues the whole industry and also devalues ones own work. Free work leads to more free work (this is coming from 10 years industry experience).

    Again, I am sorry, this may have been an oversight and obviously welcome feedback.

    Kind Regards,

    Simon @ Seismik

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Simon,
      Thank you for your comment. I have a few thoughts on what you said.
      First up, I’m not a designer. But I get asked a lot to do the equivalent of what you call ‘spec’ work. In my world it’s people asking me to do talks (my staple income) for free.
      So although I’m not a designer I would say I understand your feelings pretty well. Hence my slight unease / emphasis that I’m not trying to force anyone to do it and only want people to submit designs if:
      a) they think it’s fun (I sometimes agree to do talks for free if it sounds like a fun event)
      b) they’ve read my book and would enjoy being associated with it. I’d do a talk for Leeds United for free. (Ludicrously Extreme example: if John Steinbeck asked me to design a cover for East of Eden I’d definitely do it for free because the book has meant so much to me)
      c) it might help their career (I sometimes do talks for free if I feel the networking / ‘shop window’ opportunities make it feel worthwhile). This probably applies to people who are trying to get a foot in the door of design work.

      I’ll address a few of your questions.
      Apologies for the capital letters – they are to make it easier to read not because I am SHOUTING!

      Would you work for free with the hope of possibly being compensated?
      YES – OCCASSIONALLY (SEE ABOVE)

      Also consider that contests largely attract inexperienced designers who are under pressure due to unreasonable time restraints and competition. You run the huge risk of ultimately receiving poorly executed designs
      I AGREE. BUT THAT’S MY PROBLEM REALLY.

      You even say you feel uncomfortable doing this. By putting “please just ignore this if it’s not your thing.” it isn’t a get out either.
      I DISAGREE. I KNEW THAT SOME PEOPLE WOULD FEEL LIKE YOU. THAT’S FINE. I ALSO KNEW OTHERS WOULD BE VERY KEEN TO GIVE IT A GO.

      Please take a read of the link and maybe hopefully you will have a rethink. I assume you are not giving your book away for free?
      I’M NOT, NO. BUT I DO OFTEN GIVE THINGS AWAY FOR FREE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT MIGHT LEAD TO: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/india-book-free/

      Apologies, as I do not know you but this sort of practise really angers me as it destroys the very roots of the industry this competitions proclaim to promote. The carrot on a string of future work is nonsense as by getting free work as it devalues the whole industry and also devalues ones own work. Free work leads to more free work (this is coming from 10 years industry experience).
      I’M AFRAID I DON’T AGREE HERE. YOU CAN’T ARTIFICIALLY PROP UP A MARKET BY SAYING ‘THIS AMOUNT OF WORK MUST BE WORTH THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY IN ORDER TO KEEP THE VALUE OF THE INDUSTRY’.
      MARKET ECONOMIES SET THE MARKET RACE – STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY HAS PLUMMETED DUE TO FLICKR. SPEAKING FEES HAVE DROPPED DUE TO AN INCREASE IN OTHER SPEAKERS.

      I THINK ITS NOT WORTH RAILING AGAINST ‘COMPETITIONS FOR DESIGN’. IF PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO DO IT, THEY WON’T AND THE COMPETITION WILL FAIL. IF IT ONLY ATTRACTS POOR DESIGN THEN THE OUTPUT WILL BE POOR AND THE COMPETITION WILL FAIL.
      I do appreciate your thoughts and thanks for sharing for them – design is an industry which I like, so I wouldn’t want to irritate it / harm it / insult it. It’s good to know your thoughts.

      Best Wishes,
      Alastair

      Reply
      • Hey man, thanks for putting in the time for a reply. I think we probably have to agree to disagree. I do work for free sometimes only for charitable causes if there if someone making profit off something to not offer a fee sounds a little unfair. I also have done talks for free, this in itself is to help people starting in the industry, hence charitable in a sense. Doing a talk is a few hours of time (ok some prep as well) in the design competitions you may get a hundred entries each taking about 2 hours, that 200 hours of unpaid labour, remember its not just one person.

        Its not a case of artificially propping up a market its paying someone fairly for their time, hence I guess why we have minimum wage laws and probably why very soon I see this sort of practise of “design competitions” becoming illegal in the future (I hope).

        I love anyone with an adventurer spirit, which you obviously have and anyone that embraces life as such so please just consider this a debate not a unreasonable moan 🙂

        Regards,

        Simon

        Reply
        • Alastair Posted

          Hi Simon,
          OK – let’s agree to disagree!
          I do appreciate lots of what you say and agree with a good chunk of it. I categorically disagree with it being wrong enough to be illegal. (If someone proposed a ‘speaking competition’ I would either enter it or I would not enter it as I see fit).

          Let’s agree to disagree as amicably as possible!
          Al

          ps – I look forward to your entry in the competition…
          pps – that was a joke! 😉

          Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      ps – if this makes you feel any better, I’ve just been asked by a massive corporation to do a talk for £23!

      🙂

      Reply
  3. The only thing cheaper than slave labour is fan labour.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      With the key difference of fan labour (is that a real phrase?!) being done voluntarily and for fun.

      Reply
      • Sure… but your books and now film were done voluntarily and for fun and last time I checked people had to pay for them. I do understand that you’ve used free content (this blog) to raise your profile and drive sales, get speaking gigs, more exped opportunities etc. and why shouldn’t that apply to a wannabe designer….

        …but I still can’t escape the faintly exploitative whiff that comes from tapping up a fanbase, garnering multiple entries, all of which incur an opportunity cost to the designer, and then bunging one of them a 100 quid cheque.

        I mean if ‘book cover designing’ was such a good avenue to getting your work recognised then how come you didn’t just go to your bookshelf, pick the best cover and call that guy or gal?

        Reply
        • In fairness and on reflection, 100 quid is still an offer and maybe some designer will feel like it’s worth it.

          Best of luck on the next expedition.

          Shame about the Pole.

          Reply
        • Alastair Posted

          Hi
          I *sort of* agree with you here. I certainly see your point.
          The designer of my favourite book cover is unlikely to see any benefit in doing my book cover as they neither feel a positive connection to my book nor are they looking to get into the world of cover design.
          I guess they’d either decide they wanted to do it or decide they didn’t want to do it, no?
          Or am I wrong?
          Best Wishes
          Alastair

          Reply
    • Cheers for fan labor! I’ve never heard this term before and love it! Some of the most elite business men owe their success to doing something because they simply love it. Their wealth was just a mere spin off of the joy they were having doing what they love. I will say oportunistic business men do take adantage of young designers, artist, dancers, and scientists alike but viewed with the right perspective and attitude, these “free” experiences will all add up to make one heck of an important resume and portfolio! I have a good friend who is getting his foot in the door in the design world and has done a ton of free work but those gigs have become important stepping stones in building a good reputation in the industry. The same way internships would work for scientists. Slavery takes away choice, fan labor embraces it.

      Reply
  4. Would you be willing to share any profit?

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Neil,
      The chosen design will receive £100 from the publisher. If that, plus the project itself, isn’t enough to make it worth your time (and I completely appreciate that it may not be) then please don’t enter.
      Best Wishes,
      Alastair

      Reply
  5. Hi there
    I am also a writer, film maker and I am on a World bike tour since 2001. Just came back home in 2004 to wash my clothes and left again.
    I had also self published 5 books and 5 documentaries.
    I respect Alastair work (and particulary this idea of asking for a cover desing) becuase he is just ASKING FOR.
    It means you are free to do it or not. That is not compulsory.
    Many people had helped me give music, desing, or time editing videos…, they just like your work and like to give you a push on the hill. As people can give you money on the road just because they like what you do.
    So, please, help Alastair if you like him or just ignore it but do not make a discussion on something that is just a human desire: help others to make their dreams come true.
    All the best from Central America
    127.454 kms on a row of 9 years.
    http://www.biciclown.com

    Reply
  6. You’re a role model to a lot of people and so this stuff matters. Hence my comment.

    My problem with these kinds of competitions is that they tap into the young and inexperienced hopes and insecurities and sow all of the wrong kinds of seeds for their future careers as creatives and artists, people who should be learning to value their time and their work. These competitions help to set that value bar very low.

    Personally, as someone who has been on the wrong end of this stick, there are two ways to do this kind of competition ethically. One is pay the winner what a contracted professional would have been paid, or something close to it. The other is to be honest and explain why you can’t afford/don’t want to pay that amount.

    Can’t afford it is, in my view, very legitimate. I’m sure your’re doing OK but I can’t imagine you’re making a fortune. Seems like you’re trying to meet a deadline for the Christmas market. Why not be honest about that and ask for help instead of presenting it as though it’s helping others?

    You ought to know very well that getting this gig isn’t really going to help a young designer’s career very much unless they’re paid like a professional. Anyone can work for free and any employer or contractor knows that.

    Sorry it’s not nice to hear, but I think you’ve mad a mistake here.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks a lot for your comment.
      I have certainly learned a new perspective on this issue in the last few days!
      I’m going to blog about it next week to help other people make an informed choice about this sort of thing.

      I’ll answer your points below:

      My problem with these kinds of competitions is that they tap into the young and inexperienced hopes and insecurities and sow all of the wrong kinds of seeds for their future careers as creatives and artists, people who should be learning to value their time and their work. These competitions help to set that value bar very low.

      I SORT OF AGREE WITH THIS POINT. BUT THE FLIP SIDE IS ALL THE WORK THAT CREATIVE TYPES (I’M INCLUDING MYSELF HERE) HAVE TO DO TO GET THEIR FOOT IN THE DOOR. I DID ABOUT 400 LECTURES BEFORE I WAS ANYWHERE NEAR BEING ABLE TO BE GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE A LIVING AT IT. THAT DOESN’T MEAN MY FIRST 399 WERE NOT GOOD.

      Personally, as someone who has been on the wrong end of this stick, there are two ways to do this kind of competition ethically. One is pay the winner what a contracted professional would have been paid, or something close to it.

      I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS. AND THAT IS WHY EYE BOOKS ARE PAYING THE WINNER £100 WHICH IS WHAT THEY NORMALLY PAY FOR THEIR BOOK COVERS.

      Seems like you’re trying to meet a deadline for the Christmas market.

      NO, WE’RE JUST TRYING TO GET IT WRAPPED UP BEFORE THE WORLD SHUTS DOWN FOR AGES OVER XMAS.

      Why not be honest about that and ask for help instead of presenting it as though it’s helping others?

      I AGREE WITH YOU TO A POINT HERE. I DO BELIEVE IT *IS* HELPING OTHERS / FUN FOR OTHERS, BUT I SHOULD PERHAPS HAVE MADE MORE CLEAR THAT I WAS RECEIVING HELP RATHER THAN JUST BEING WONDERFULLY BENEVELONT!

      You ought to know very well that getting this gig isn’t really going to help a young designer’s career very much unless they’re paid like a professional.

      DISAGREE HERE. I OFTEN DO UNPAID TALKS IN ORDER TO GET MY FOOT IN THE DOOR.
      ANOTHER SMALL EXAMPLE: MY FIRST EVER BOOK COVER WAS DESIGNED BY SOMEONE PURELY BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO DO IT. WE HAVE GONE ON TO BE FRIENDS AND I HIRE HIM REGULARLY NOW.

      Sorry it’s not nice to hear, but I think you’ve mad a mistake here.

      I ALWAYS APPRECIATE BEING TOLD THAT. THANK YOU,
      AL

      Reply
  7. I tend to agree with Richard, I do design work on the side and am considering ideas though while I too love the nostalgia of the vintage graphic styles you’ve shared on your flicker board the original cover for the book with you sprawled out on the desert floor with your map is well balanced, draws a passerby in for a better look and keeps a modern audience attention for longer than a drawn cover would.

    That said, I still like to design for fun and may throw in a concept still… in regards to the above I’m surprised there was so much heat from others about asking for a design. For me I have long done a combo of work for free or mediocre pay and only apply to things I truly enjoy and often volunteer a lot of hours in said projects. Given that I’m also trying to make small waves in the speaking and adventuring circuit I can assume you’re not likely going to make millions on the sale of your book to warrant a higher price at this time, though if you do then any designer would have widespread marketing for their work and potentially attract other clients. If you receive an entry from me it’s because I respect what you’re doing and enjoy following your mischief and too I also enjoy creating art for the sake of creating art…

    Reply
    • “If you receive an entry from me it’s because I respect what you’re doing and enjoy following your mischief and too I also enjoy creating art for the sake of creating art”

      Salute and respect!

      Reply
  8. As a fan and reader of your many books, I would have loved to enter. However, the problem is I am not an artist and have almost zero creativity. So I will let this go.

    But I do wish you and all entrants the very best.

    Reply
  9. Just wanted to add that I admire a lot of what you do and I in no way intended to suggest you might be being deliberately mean spirited or sneaky (although possibly accidentally so, which can happen to the best of us!).

    I’m sure you have loads of people following you who would gladly help you out with this, my point which I think I made badly was about the presentation of the ‘offer’, which does sound like a lot of the other very dubious competitions out there that some of the other comments have referred to, and is probably what got them to comment.

    As you say, it’s up to people if they enter or not and I wish them, and you, the best of luck with it.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Thanks, Martin – no probs at all.
      I really appreciate your comments and I’ve definitely learned a thing or two.
      Al
      ps – looking forward to receiving your entry!
      pps – that’s still a joke… 😉

      Reply
      • You’ve certainly handled the ‘feedback’ well!

        Well done!

        p.s. is there a way to ftp the film for people (like me) who live in places with very bad internet?

        Reply
  10. Thought I’d just throw my opinion in – because all the cool kids are doing it! – as someone who entered the competition.

    Put simply, I like Al, I like his work, and I had a couple of hours free on a Saturday afternoon. I would have likely spent those same hours in photoshop anyway doing something for one or another of my personal projects. Instead I took Al’s challenge as a constraint and decided to see what I could come up with in the time frame. Is it good? I dunno, we’ll let Al and the publisher be the judge of it. If I don’t win do I regret doing it? Nope. Gave me a chance to exercise my creative muscles. If I win will I regret my work being used for a relatively small fee? Nope. I did it without expecting anything so any fee is better than nothing. Did Al get my best work? Probably not. If a client was paying they would have got far more time put into it. I wouldn’t have just defaulted to Adobe Garamond for the title. I would have played around with several ideas instead of just the first promising one I hit on.

    Reply
  11. Rose Hakin Posted

    Very sad to see people wanting to make money on the back of unpaid labour of any kind. As a designer I think it is exploitative and doesn’t reflect well on the people involved

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Rose
      Thanks for your comment.
      I think the pros and cons of this approach have been pretty well covered in the comments above.
      Please let me know if there’s any other aspects I’ve missed.
      Cheers
      Al

      Reply
  12. Can I redirect people to this follow-up post? http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/spec/

    Reply

 
 

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