What I learned about 99 designs

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Using 99designs has been an interesting experience and I think I’ll use them again. I loved the way it worked, and there are some fabulous artists on there. There are also some that aren’t as great, but that’s okay, they are still learning.

I was told some people had issues with copyright, but I found that if you did your due diligence that wasn’t an issue. The two covers I chose had all their textures and photos linked back to the original, and I could easily see what the copyright requirements were. Some asked for credit, which is easy to add in the copyright area, and I’m happy to give. Most were copyright free textures.

The toughest issue I had, personally, was dealing with the artists of the designs I rejected. They would ask why I rejected them, what they did wrong, how they could improve. In many cases the answer was “you can’t” either because the art wasn’t professional enough, or the right tone for the subject matter, or just because someone else was far better than they were. I didn’t want to say that. So I tried pointing out a couple things I didn’t like, and said I’ve already made my choice, I’m just waiting for time to run out.

I think I could have declared a winner earlier, but I’m glad I didn’t. Not only did the original artist I loved come up with an even better cover, but I had another artist show up that had an awesome cover too, and with a little tweaking it made a fantastic cover for the second book.

So, a couple tips to make your experience better.
1. Click on the art piece, don’t just go off the main page. This is where you will find notes from the artist, and copyright info.
2. Don’t accept art that doesn’t reference the original materiel. You need to know the terms of copyright. If they don’t add it ask them for it.
3. Even if you aren’t sure about a specific design ask for minor changes. Sometimes a rough or okay piece will become a diamond.
4. Wait. Don’t choose something too early, you might miss a fantastic opportunity.
5. Give your title something unique. My title was “Lovecraftian high fantasy” and a lot of artist were fascinated by that. Who doesn’t want to do a Lovecraft art piece?
6. Keep in contact with the artist. You may find you want to hire them later.
7. If you see a second piece that would work for another project don’t be shy about asking to buy that directly from the artist. 99designs had a 1-on-1 project section that allows you to buy specific pieces from a specific artist, or commission new ones.
8. Ask about using the art in promo material. Both my artists are fine with it, and the art references they used are okay for it. Others may not be. Ask!
9. Ask about adjustments after the fact. I don’t know how big my book is going to be yet because I haven’t gotten the page count nailed down, but my artist offered to adjust the spine for me, free of charge, if I ever need it.
10. Make sure you get the PSD file and/or a high quality picture without a blurb on it. You are probably going to want to adjust the blurb some day.
11. Ask for a cover for the print book that can be cut down to ebook size later. Maybe you don’t want a print book yet, but some day you might and your going to want a good one, not just a plain cover tacked onto the ebook cover.
12. Triple check everything, then have someone else check it too. I miss spelled “Witch’s” as “Witches” when I first asked him to change the title. I asked him to change it and he added the apostrophe but didn’t take out the “e”. For some reason my eye just went right over that “e” without seeing it, several times. Thankfully others caught it before it was too late.

I asked my artists if I could put their website in my credits as well. They deserve a little publicity. The first artist didn’t even have a website. He’s never asked people to attribute him before. But I’m going to, because it just seems like the right thing to do. I hope if you use 99designs you’ll do the same.

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Around the Web

Net Neutrality is STILL one of the most important things on the agenda right now. The FCC said yes to the internet fast lane idea. Even libraries have stepped into the fray. In their words, the death of net neutrality could KILL Libraries. Here are some ways you can still fight against it.

And also, a video that shows what Net Neutrality vrs the FCC’s “Open Internet” plan is.

Now… on to our regularly scheduled web news.

Author Earnings will have another report up in 25 hours.

Publishing is more then books.

The ISS gets and HD cam directed at earth.

Reddit answers the best way to start a new hobby, from fencing to glass blowing, and much much more.

Jim Butcher does and AMA.

Time to Reform Copyright. While he has a point, copyright is a little messed up, I might not agree with everything he says. Google books did start uploading out of print books for free on google books a long time ago. Some of them are still under copyright, but they aren’t available ANYWHERE else, so they’ve made a case for adding them to their library (as long as they don’t sell them.) The Internet Archive started adding loads of video to their archive, saving things that might otherwise disappear forever. Copyright isn’t always good. It causes things to be forgotten over time. Ignored. Lost. And what good does that do anyone?

Why I Won’t Buy the XB1

No one disagrees that the future is going digital. Nor do they disagree with Microsoft’s rights to do so this soon. It does seem a bit pre-mature to a lot of people who are without internet, or have sporadic, or bad internet. The same people who love their console games because they do not have to get online for downloads, updates, multi-player and the like.

I do, however, disagree with the fact that the game you buy as a physical disk isn’t actually yours and you can not do anything with it except install it onto your personal XB1. You can’t give it to a friend to play. You can’t really sell it to a used game store. I can already see used game stores are going to refuse to take them because they can only be re-registered to a new console once. How does Gamestop know if someone else already registered it? They don’t. So they can’t do it.

On top of the money you pay to Gamestop to get the game, you also have to pay the publisher/Microsoft again, for a used game. This is like Ikea charging you for buying a bookshelf, then charging someone who buys that bookshelf at a garage sale. It’s ridiculous.

Then there is the kinect. Always on, always watching, always listening. With NSA recording, watching, and storing anything they damn well feel like, and Microsoft being one of the companies that are supporting the NSA in doing this, then it just doesn’t sound safe to me. I wouldn’t want it in my living room watching me. It’s just creepy. What if I want to play Skyrim while I am skyclad? No, not happening. 

Yes, digital is the future, and honestly, I buy most of my games on Steam because the prices reflect the fact that you can not resell them. They have great sales, and they allow you to download it to any computer you want, as many times as you want and play offline if you like. Want to play with a friend? Buy them another copy, it’s probably less then $20.

Microsoft will be selling you brand new games with a physical disk that you can not resell without a lot of trouble, for $60. 

Maybe other gamers can afford that… Maybe they don’t mind invasion of privacy, or limitations put on your personal property. That’s up to gamers. I, personally, will not be getting an XB1.

Copywrite

Most writers will eventually run up against copywrite at one point or another. This is both good, and bad. While copywrite does protect your intellectual property and allow you, and only you, to legally make money off of your work (be it art, video, music, games or the written word) it also has some unintended consequences.

Watch the short video below for a little explanation on how it started, and how it has been changed over the years.