Why Editors and Illustrators Are Important
Editors and illustrators are the most important pieces of indie publishing next to the author themselves. (Edit: No, I’m not just saying that because I’m married to an artist who has also done a rather important cover…or two…or now three.) Whenever I talk about indie publishing in panels, I usually state that the largest outlays an author should have are the editor and cover artist. After some self-assessment, I realize that I switch which has higher priority dependent on what phase of the book I’m in / recent issues I may have had. But bottom line, if you have $500 for marketing, editing, and cover, I’d say that it should be $225 editing, $225 cover, and $50 for marketing. Why? Because if your cover is crap and your editing subpar, odds are a marketing budget under six figures isn’t going to do you any good.
Where to Find Editors…
A good “one stop shop” for indies is Reedsy, and an article on the service is here. I know a few authors who have found their editor on Reedsy, and generally the reviews have been good (although check out the comments for the article). From the editor side, I’ve heard of the stringent requirements to gain a listing. This is a good thing for authors. Generally, high entry standards increase the odds you will be happy with the final result. While I seem to keep running into my editors through “word of mouth,” “friends of friend” (and have been really lucky with both), or through folks finding me on Twitter, I’m regularly reminded I’m the rare “extrovert author.” Reedsy seems to be a good resource for those who are less extroverted. (Full disclosure–haven’t tried Book Angel yet, but I appreciate someone who reaches out to independent authors to help.)
Illustrators are a bit harder to wrangle. As I’ve mentioned before in a blog post or two, the first part is figuring out what you want out of the illustration. In this case, I was primarily concerned with ad copy. Some of the Usurper’s War imagery has become repetitive repetitive after five years and needed updating. This assessment was followed closely by the possibility of images getting used again for novella / short story covers set in the Usurper’s War universe. Thankfully, I recently discovered a Twitter page that features aviation artists (@theaviationart). There were also artists I had found on FB through several aviation artwork pages I’m part of. From a field of about 20 choices, I winnowed things down to the following:
For various reasons things didn’t work out with anyone in the list above. In some cases, it was a matter of timing. Others it was subject matter, as “alternate history” could potential cause other clients to call into question their attention to detail or accuracy. (Which, as you can see in every case, is most excellent.) Finally, there was that bugbear of price point, as I couldn’t quite justify spending four figures on art that was first and foremost going to be ad copy. All that being said, almost everyone was a professional, and I heartily encourage A. going to buy their art and B. seeing if your needs would mesh with their timing / ability more than mine did.
The Winner Is…
Ultimately, Itifonhom 3D Models was who I went with. We’d previously worked together before for the piece commemorating “Fate of the Falklands” out of Those In Peril. I knew from perusal of his site that World War II was his area of expertise, and he jumped at the opportunity. I think you’ll enjoy the two pieces below, both of which depict scenes from Against the Tide Imperial.
As for the book in question, things have moved along well. (Edit: Now available.) There’s going to be some parts that end up on the cutting room floor (see possible novella cover), but with a little bit of wrap up it’s getting close to time for it to go out to beta readers. I’ve been debating doing preorder, but after the algorithms screwed up with Aries Red Sky, that’s probably not going to happen.
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Concur on the editors and artists! THOSE will make you money. Looking forward to the next release!
You know I hound the ‘good cover’ and it’s not just because I do cover art. It’s the number one thing that is going to sell your book. They won’t even look at the blurb if the cover isn’t right… and that means more than just ‘good art’ it has to be on-genre, and so on and so forth. *steps off soap box hastily*
Beautiful artwork! I almost wish I wrote in your genre so I could hire one of these folks. I wonder if any of them do spaceships…
Thanks Cedar! Justin Adams does, in fact, do space ships. 😀
Good stuff! I collect the covers of books I read to make a screen saver for my desktop. I also like to make ‘new’ covers of said books whenever possible for the screen saver. I’ll have fun with these.