I recently held a design contest at 99designs to get a cover for my debut thriller CRAMDOWN:MASSACRE. I was a bit hesitant about using crowdsourcing to design my first book's cover, but after working with the designers who participate in 99designs, I'm totally sold.
Though I signed on at the lowest price point 99designs offers, the designers it attracted were very good. Several were excellent.
I read a lot of designer backlash on the Internet before starting my contest. Many designers feel that crowdsourcing is the death of their business. However, what I found on 99designs was designers of all skill levels in a real-time, real-world design project that many of them would never have the chance to participate in were it not for a tool like 99designs. The really good designers provided a measurement, in my opinion, for the less seasoned artists to aspire to, follow, and learn from.
Budding designers, imagine a training ground where you could work on real projects, see what the competition is doing, and get real-time feedback on your design ... instead of knocking on shut doors because you aren't "experienced enough" or come from the right design house.
99designs is a place for veterans to ply their trade for themselves and rookies to swing the bat and learn-a University where you can make money. What a concept. That being said, all of the designs that were submitted in my contest were done so by talented designers at varying points in their careers. Some good, some better, some obviously experienced ... but all professional and skilled. At the end, I had what I considered to be a top-notch book cover to do justice to my 7 months of dedication and devotion to my baby ... my first fiction novel!
I would encourage designers at any point in their career to participate, as I would also encourage clients, especially clients who are intimidated by the design industry's high prices and other barriers to entry. If you need a logo, web site, book cover, graphic design ... for a reasonable price that won't break you if it doesn't turn out perfect ... 99designs will do the trick. (By the way, my design turned out as close to perfect as I wanted it to be. I certainly didn't want to pay thousands for absolutely "perfect.")
The 99designs process is smooth, easy to navigate, well thought out, and comprehensive. It puts the client in charge and keeps the designers responsive and enthusiastic. At the end of it, that was what made me so happy. Too often I pay big money only to be treated poorly by unresponsive and under-delivering vendors.
With 99designs, no one gets my money until I'm happy. When the client's happy, then the designer's happy. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?
Previously Cynical Author