Somebody call a detective!

Indie authors, has this ever happened to you? You’ve scoured the internet and recommendations from other authors, looked through portfolios and finally arrived at a book cover designer that seems perfect for your book. You’ve made contact, their working style fits yours, they seem enthusiastic about the job and everything’s lined up. You’re ready to begin, you send over a design brief. And then… nothing. When you try to get a hold of them, you’re totally ghosted.

This happened to me.

I thought I’d found the perfect designer for my book cover, and at a reasonable price as well. They’d shown they were very interested in my book and embraced the overall expectations I had for it. They even read over my design brief and said how excited they were to begin. I was ready to make the first payment, then they completely disappeared. I sent a couple of follow up emails and heard nothing.

Go find that cover designer, boy!

Worried that my primary email account might suddenly be spam filtering their replies, or experiencing some other technical problems, I tried again with an alternate email. Then I thought perhaps I should try contacting them through their public Facebook page.

This was also an opportunity to double check if maybe some outside circumstances prevented them from responding. I sometimes worry, when getting in touch with friends I haven’t heard from in a while, that I might be overlooking some illness or other personal issue affecting them. A message might be ill-timed, so I often check Facebook to see how they’re doing. In this case, I found the exact opposite. They were still merrily posting how they were doing in Farmville and reposting BuzzFeed political articles. (I was so stumped as to why I was being ignored, I’d wondered if they might have disagreed with the politics of some of my tweets, had they been checking that, but our politics were in agreement.)

Perplexed, I was lucky enough to find a thread on Kboards, the forum for Kindle authors. Apparently this sort of thing is quite common, even between authors and cover designers who’ve worked together before. Usually, it seems, there are a couple of explanations as to why a designer might decide not to work with an author:

  • The author’s brief is “small time” and there are higher paying gigs available; or
  • The author seems like they will be difficult to work with.

Unfortunately, I think I fell into the latter category. Even though I was quite ready to hear out the designer’s ideas, I did already have a picture in my head of what the cover would look like. Nevertheless, I was cautious not to cramp the designer’s style and was careful to always remind the designer that I was a newbie and was happy to heed their advice and never stated anything categorically. However, the designer did ask me for as many details as I could provide, and even asked what my own ideas for the cover would be. I think I provided way too much info and scared them off.


Apparently, cover designers are a lot like these guys (Scott Lewis/

The strange part was why the cover designer hadn’t just told me it wasn’t going to work, or perhaps made up some excuse and been done with it. One possibility is that they were nervous about working with me, but didn’t want to rule me out. Sort of like when home renovators have bigger jobs they’d rather be doing, but don’t want to ever lose you as a potential customer. Still, I’m surprised they didn’t try to drag things out. Ultimately, like many of those on the Kboards thread, I have to conclude that my former cover designer is a really shy person and doesn’t want to ever have any communication that’s remotely negative. Annoying, and inconsiderate, since I wasted several weeks on this issue, but not malicious.

Do you think I acted correctly? Are you experiencing the same problem?

This story has a happy ending, as I managed to find another cover designer, and that person has been great to work with. I can’t wait to share the cover reveal for Sparrow Squadron!