I heard that one bookshelf (enworld store, rpgnow...) will be using lightning source for their POD service for their pdfs.
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Answering your questions regarding what to expect for commissions... well, this is what I often see on DeviantArt.
Price-wise, for a general commission, you're looking at it varying by complexity in your image. You're probably going to look at something like this as an average:
10-20 dollars for a full body pencil sketch of a single character, add on 5 dollars per character.
15-30 dollars for a full body inked drawing of a single character, add on 5-10 dollars per additional character.
20-50 dollars AND UP depending on the skill range of the artist for a CGI/other style of color for a single character, full body, probably looking at an additional 10 dollars per character.
I specify full body because some artists charge less for just portraits or half views.
This of course is probably going to be a picture with no or a very minimally detailed image. Adding on a background depends on the artist, I see prices ranging from 10-a lot for backgrounds. And a lot of artists will charge more for 'commericial use' of their images. An average for quality graphic design for a book or CD cover to be sold would probably be in the 150-300 dollar range. Just commissioning a drawing and putting text on it yourself won't cut it--you need permission from the artist to do that.
Depending on the artist they will or will not work directly with you to show you work in progress images so that you can get what you want. Check their terms of service before hiring. When I do commissions I usually send in a few sketches so I know what they want, then a color draft, and if they're cool with the color draft I do all the detail-work because I basically refuse to edit once I've finished all the detailing. Some people will only send in the sketch. Etc. It depends on the artist.
The last commission I did was a POD CD cover, I charged 30 dollars for the figure, and 30 for the background. I'll be blunt too: I undercharge. I expect people using POD aren't going to turn a profit. If you look particularly among students you'll find more willing to undercharge for their services.
Scamming happens. A lot. Check out http://community.livejournal.com/artists_beware/ for current commission scammers to make sure you don't get ripped off.
If you're trying to go cheaper be sure to see several examples of the artist's work to make sure they know what they're doing.
If you decide to do it yourself, you can always hit up sxc.hu (a free stock site) and grab a stock photo and put text on it yourself.
As for other methods of printing out your book, I know of two other POD services.
Lulu is actually a terrible choice due to the astronomical costs of their printing. They have good quality books but the cost is outrageous. Hopefully that answers some of your questions about commissions and gives you a couple more POD options to look at.
Last edited by Tiana; 10-01-2009 at 05:44 PM.
Nice to here of some new options. XDCafepress.
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Oh, there's tons of options once you get past the two big ones: Lulu and Cafepress. I recommend Createspace for books because it's a lot cheaper than Lulu and you get a free ISBN number and you can sell your book through Amazon if you want. It costs money with Lulu to do that but they throw it in free. I think it's a good addition that makes POD self publishing a bit more viable, since the book is a much more reasonable price than Lulu's and it allows you to sell your book through an already known website, and this is my personal thing, but the ISBN lets you put your book into the library system. I've seen their books and they don't look bad. Lulu's books actually look really nice, they're just way too shiny for me--the two I have get all fingerprinted and it kinda bugs me. Also, they're bigger than a standard paperback which also bugs me. The covers also warp out a bit after some reading, but they do hold up to abuse well.Nice to here of some new options. XD
There's also 360 Digital Books and Print House Express which I've heard decent things about from comic creators. I do believe they're general POD companies and not comic-directed so they might be worth looking into. I've seen pictures of comics printed through 360 and they turned out nice.
If you're printing a graphic novel or photo type book, KaBlam is apparently decent. I'm currently ordering a test floppy from them to see just how well they print my art. Don't use Comixpress. They're cheap but apparently their turnaround time is awful and people ordering comics from them sometimes never receive them. Just figured I'd pitch that warning in if you started hunting for smaller POD companies.
That's the thing with Lulu, Createspace and Cafepress: they're bigger and there's enough reviews so that you can confidently know you'll get your book and you can look online and find pictures of the quality. They come with their disadvantages, like Lulu eating souls and stuff... but at least you know you'll get a good quality book. I'll still recommend Lulu to people because the quality is solid, I just don't plan on using it myself again.