Good morning on this the twenty eighth day of December in the year of our Lord 2016.
I read an interesting blog post by Brian Niemeier on the subject of how an indie author pays for all of the work he does while wearing his publisher hat. I think this accurately sumarizes his conclusion:
Never give anyone a percentage of the royalties for one-time work on a self-published project.
So far I’ve followed that myself, though Brian (being a much more popular author) comes at it from a very different angle than I do. He discusses at length why giving away a large part of what you own—let’s face it, as important as the cover, editing, etc. are, without the book they’d be nothing—is a really bad idea financially. And let’s face it, authors do not typically have a smooth, even, reliable income stream in the way that, say, university professors do. And to be clear, it’s obvious in his post that he’s talking about paying a fair one-time price for a person’s work, such that they’ve been well compensated for the value of the time they put in.
But I’ve got the opposite problem. My royalties don’t amount to much, yet—I’m still only in year 3 of my 20 year plan—and until one starts to make real money from books there’s absolutely no guarantee that one ever will. (So far sales have paid for one cover and part of the second cover.) Especially in my case where I’ve never been the stuff of which popularity is made. So I’ve got a strong preference for paying a one-time fee for work such as cover art and copy-editing (I haven’t been able to afford to pay for full editing yet), because this ensures that the person I’m dealing with has been paid fairly for their time. I’m not asking anyone else to share in my risk.
God bless you.