This week was incredibly exciting as we embarked on a design adventure with 99designs to create the cover for (not quite finished) book #3: Nerd Know-How: The 24 Best Apps for Work… & How to Use ‘Em!
Book covers can cost upwards of $5000, but design contests on 99designs start at a few hundred dollars. I bought the $799 Gold level, and I ended up with 281 designs from dozens of talented designers. After a little help from almost 600 of my newsletter readers and social media audience (that’s YOU!), I narrowed it down to my top four designers and asked them to iron out the last little details.
Today I had a final runoff between my two favorite designers, and I picked this winner! We’re still tweaking a couple of things, but I’m in love. 🙂
From a selfish point of view, I adored this process. A month or so ago I started working with one of my favorite designers on this cover, but after several false starts, well, he fired me as a client — in a friendly way, of course. But I was getting frustrated with our lack of togetherness. When I started the 99designs contest, I was amazed by the different perspectives from the other designers. The design I chose wasn’t anything like I had envisioned, but it just fits. I’m very happy.
BUT… and there’s a big but… I feel incredibly guilty. I’ve used these services before, most recently to create my present logo. But the other projects were quicker and less involved. This time, dozens of designers submitted thoughtful, innovative and thorough designs that I’m sure took them hours of work. The way the system works, the designers who made it to the final round and didn’t win will get a higher ranking for being a finalist, but no money (or at least I think that’s what happens). And the winning designer only gets about $500 of my $799 (again, I’m not quite sure about all the numbers). And $500 is very little for a quality designer.
One small consolation for the winning designer is that I will need help with a couple of other projects related to the cover, so I hope to be hiring him again. But for the second place guy… nada, and nothing for the dozens of other designers who tried their best. With a smaller project, I didn’t feel guilty. But with the time they had to invest in this intricate design, perhaps a contest is a little too much to ask for design professionals.
What do you guys think?