Help me create the cover of my new book [CONTEST DISCONTINUED]

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[UPDATE: This contest had been suspended, please do not submit designs. Here is why…

My sole goal in creating this contest was to take a creative process that was usually reserved for a small number of in-house designers and open it up to anyone else who wanted an opportunity to let their creative talents be considered for the cover of a book. And, I wanted people to be able to have a voice in then choosing what covers most appealed to them.

I genuinely thought it was a nice thing. Designers would get exposure through the public display and voting process and everyone could have a voice.

I was blown away by the response, though. Many people e-mailed excited about the opportunity, but then a post on a design website about the contest revealed something that, honestly, horrified me.

It seems there is a practice in the design niche for certain entities to run contests that, though they are dissimilar in many ways from what I was doing, are designed largely as a means to exploit designers, take the work product from large numbers of people and use all the creations in many different ways without having to pay for any of it.

I was mortified, especially to think that what I was doing could be in any way construed as exploitation. That is so very far from what my intention was. I shared how I believed what I was doing was different in the comments on that blog as well as below.

But, here’s the deal…I do not want to be associated with even the “perception” of exploitation, especially because I am a creative professional, myself.

Respecting those with whom I work and associate is ciritically important to me. It’s been a touchstone of everything I do.

So, I am discontinuing this contest, effective immediately, in an effort to demonstrate my sincerity and strong desire to distant myself from the practice of exploitation. I thank all those who’ve shared their voices on the topic and engaged me in conversation, without jumping to any conclusions about who I was.

And, of course, I apologize for any discontent or unease this has caused anyone. And, I thank everyone for understanding what began as a good-intentioned attempt to let people have a voice, but went astray.

Wishing you all, as always, a wonderful week ahead]

Announcing my big, bad and totally rockin’ Crowdsource The Cover Contest for my new book, Cash In On Your Passion®

Help me design or choose the cover of my new book and you could win $1,000, an iPod Touch®, a Flip™ Video Ultra Camera and much, much more!

It’s wildly unorthodox, I know…

But that’s not stopping me and my publisher, Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. (“Sponsor”) from reaching out to you guys and everyone we all know online to help us come up with a killer-cover for my upcoming book, Cash In On Your Passion to be published in trade paperback in January 2009.

Simple fact—you guys rock! You’ve supported me, challenged me and inspired me. I’ve benefited so much from all of your thoughts and contributions. So, I figured…

Why not tap that same intelligence to help design and choose the cover of my new book?

Okay, sounds good on paper, but then I had to get my publisher, Random House division, Broadway Books, to go along with it. Fat chance, right?!

Honestly, I never thought they’d say yes, but it didn’t take long for my editor to come back with an enthusiastic thumbs up. They’re on-board. Woohoo!

But, here’s the deal, I’m not just asking for your designs and your votes.

I’m putting my money where my mouth is, offering…

  • For the winning cover design – $1,000 and a shot at the cover of my next book from a major NYC publisher, and
  • For everyone who votes on the designs – a chance to win an iPod Touch (8gb), a Flip™ Video Ultra camera (60 minutes recording time) or one (1) of ten (10) signed copies of the book
  • Approximate Retail Value of all prizes: $1,618.00

So, here are the details for the first-ever Crowd-source The Cover Contest:

For designers:

Submit your design by March 25, 2008 – Submit cover designs for Cash In On Your Passion to me at[DISCONTINUED, DO NOT SUBMIT DESIGNS] by 11:59 PM (EDT) on March 25, 2008 . Only entries submitted electronically in accordance with these Contest rules will be eligible for consideration. All entries become the property of Sponsor upon submission.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Title & subtitle to include: Cash In On Your Passion: How to make a great living doing what you love.
  • Summary: Book shares the story of my journey from lawyer to lifestyle-entrepreneur, and, through a series of extensive case-studies and exercises, lays out a step-by-step approach to finding what you love and figuring out how to make it generate enough money to live-well in the world.
  • Design-specs: Dimensions – 5-3/16” x 8” | JPG format
  • Personal Info: Include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, phone-number and age.
  • Legal mumbo-jumbo: Submit as many designs as you like. The winner will be required to sign an agreement (1) confirming for the benefit of Sponsor, the winner’s conveyance of all rights, including copyright, in the entry to Sponsor; (2) warranting that the winner’s work is original and not previously published; and (3) warranting that the winner’s work does not and will not infringe upon the copyright, or other rights, of anyone. The Contest is open to all legal residents of the fifty (50) United States who are 18 years of age or older as of March 25, 2008. Entries received from persons residing in geographic areas in which entry is not permissible will be disqualified.

For everyone: Vote on your favorite design!

I will post the top 20 designs in a new post on this blog for everyone to begin voting on March 26th, 2008. Vote on your favorite design between 12:01 AM (EDT) on March 26, 2008 and 11:59 PM (EDT) on April 6, 2008. Voting will close at 11:59 PM (EDT) on April 6th, 2008. If you would like to be reminded when the top 20 designs are posted, please subscribe to this blog. Limit one vote person.

On or after April 6th, 2008 the five designs with the greatest number of votes will be submitted to the Sponsor’s Design Department. They will then select one (1) contest winner and then consider it for the cover of the book, along with in-house designs. The entries will be judged on the basis of the best cover design that accurately reflects the books’ content and sends a message to the reader about the content of the book and which will, in the opinion of Sponsor, best help sell the book. The decision of the judges will be final and binding in all matters relating to the contest.

Winners Announced on April 20th, 2008

  • The winning contest-designer will be notified via email and then announced and will receive the $1,000 prize.
  • Everyone who votes will be eligible for a random drawing on April 20th to receive:
  • First-Prize – An iPod Touch® (8gb)
  • Second-Prize – A Flip™ Video Ultra Camera (60 minutes recording time)
  • Third-prize – 10 people will each receive one (1) signed copy of the book upon its release in January 2009
  • Winners will be selected in a random drawing from all eligible entries received.

So, if you’ve got a design in you and you’re looking to potentially land the cover of a book and grab $1,000, get me your design by March 25th.

And, even if you’re not a designer, I want the benefit of your vote.

Make sure you are subscribed and, on March 26th, I’ll post an update with the top 20 cover designs for you to vote on. Share your voice and you may just win a very cool prize.

[More legal stuff that has to be here]


Employees of Sponsor including its corporate affiliates and parent companies and members of the immediate families of such individuals and person living in their households are not eligible to enter. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. Contest offer void wherever prohibited or restricted by law.

Winner may be required to execute affidavits of eligibility, tax acknowledgment forms, liability releases and, except where prohibited by law, use of name and likeness releases and return them within seven (7) days of issuance. Return of any prize notification as undeliverable, or failure of potential winners to accept the prizes, respond to notification attempts or return completed releases within required timeframe will result in disqualification and an alternate winner may be selected at Sponsors’ discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if, at any time, following selection of a winner any portion of the prize becomes unavailable for any reason. No refunds or credits for changes. No portion of any prize may be combined with any other credit or offer. Prizes are nontransferable and must be accepted as awarded. No cash or other substitution may be made. All taxes, fees and surcharges on prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.

For the name of the winning entrants, available only after April 20, 2008, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Broadway Books Marketing Department, 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019.


All entries become the sole property of Sponsor and none will be returned. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate or misdirected e-mail, for technical, hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete, garbled, corrupted, or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt or processing of the entries in this Contest. Sponsor (including its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries) is not responsible for errors in printing or electronic presentation of the Contest. If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by a computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor that negatively affect the administration, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest. In the event the Contest must be terminated, a notice will be posted on the Contest web site. In the event of a dispute regarding online entry, the entry will be deemed submitted by the authorized holder of the e-mail account submitted at the time of entry. An authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by the Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization that is responsible for arranging e-mail address for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. A potential winner may be required to provide Sponsor with proof that the potential winner is the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with the winning entry. Rules are subject to any requirements and limitations imposed by the FCC and any other state and federal agencies having jurisdiction.

All disputes and questions regarding the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of any participant, and the Sponsor, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than New York. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. If any such provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, these Official Rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision was not contained therein.

The Sponsor of this Contest is Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019.


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24 responses

24 responses to “Help me create the cover of my new book [CONTEST DISCONTINUED]”

  1. shane says:

    Dude this is an awesome idea. So do you have anything you would like to see that might is win? Like maybe point to some stuff you like.

    You weren’t kidiibg about the legal jargon. Good for you for helping your ex-brethren lawyer have some more job security. It certainly adds an air of legitimacy – maybe I should add 3 pages of legalese to all my contests. =)

  2. Your publisher knows the job. They just started te promotion of the book. A good promotion, that is. Congratulations.

  3. […] Help Jonathan create the cover of his new book (and win big bucks and cool prizes!) Filed under: Book/Culture Reviews […]

  4. What a cool idea! I wish I was a graphic designer. I have something totally envisioned, but no skills.

    Can’t wait to vote!

  5. Brian says:

    So cool.

    I can’t wait to read your book. I am a future doctor but I definitely want to have this lifestyle entrepreneurship in mind!

  6. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Shane – thanks, man. Would love to give some guidance, but I think it’ll actually be more fun to just let people come up with anything that they want. And, thanks for the link, man!

    @ dandellion kimban – yeah, I am very psyched to be working with a publisher, editor and team!

    @ Sandra – Hey, even if you’re not a designer, would love the benefit of your input as a voter.

    @ Brian – Congrats on working toward being a doctor, it’s all about finding a way to earn a great living and doing what’s fulfilling and meaningful to you. For some, that means entrepreneurship and for others, not.

  7. Chris Cree says:

    What a great idea, Johnathan. I hope you get a bunch of great cover designs. Heck, I might even try my hand at it and send an entry your way. I’m no designer but it would be fun to participate. 🙂

  8. Chris Cree says:

    And I apologize for my persistent misspelling of your name, Jonathan. Sheesh!

  9. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Chris – brother, half my friends still don’t spell it right, hey, I’m easy! 🙂

  10. shafiu says:

    I am from Maldives. Can we also participate?

  11. […] back to Jonathan’s blog March 26th to vote for a winner. Good luck! March 9th | Digg | | Stumble | Reddit | […]

  12. Niki Brown says:

    This is so disrespectful to the design community. Asking for work on speculation is wrong in so many ways. I would check out alot of the comments from designers on this post over at freelance switch. You need to seriously re-think this whole idea.

  13. Book lover says:

    What a great idea, I can’t wait to see what covers people submit. I might even have to submit my own… what a cheap way to get a possibly great cover.

  14. […] up this week’s brunch on a competitive note, I have to tell you Jonathan Fields is hosting a design contest. He’s asking us to help him come up with a great cover for his new book. I’m going to […]

  15. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Niki – Thanks for sharing your concerns. I’ve posted an extensive reply over at FSw that I think explains how this contest is totally on the level and designed not to take advantage of, but to honor designers. I am pasting it below, too…

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and concerns about my crowdsource the cover contest. As a freelancer, writer and designer, myself, my intention has always been to be respectful.

    So, here are a few thoughts:

    First, with regard to the contest being limited to the US, I wanted very much to open it up to everyone, but the publisher’s legal department said it needed to be limited to the U.S., because the laws about contest/drawings are different in every country and it would be nearly impossible to comply with all of them.

    With regard to the notion that this contest somehow takes advantage of designers by asking them to work on spec, I have to tell you, I am blown away by this perception.

    First, please understand, it has never been my intention to take advantage of anyone. In fact, quite the opposite. My publisher already has a very competent staff of designers who will already come up with different ideas and vie for the cover internally. The normal process would be to keep it in-house. To exclude everybody else. And that would be the end of it.

    But, I also knew that getting the cover of a book from a big NY publisher offered a certain level of prestige. And, I knew that a lot of the people who read not only my personal blog, but my articles on FSw were designers who would love to have the chance to add a cover from a major publisher to their portfolio and would also benefit from added public exposure of their work, even if they didn’t land the cover.

    So, I asked my publisher to allow me to open up the opportunity beyond their in-house designers to potentially give a relatively new designer not only the chance to win something but also give something to the bigger community in the form of a lot of public exposure to their work.

    So, we structured our cover-contest very intentionally as more of a “shared online gallery show,” where we’d select certain artists to be in the show, promote that show and get a lot of people through the doors of that online gallery to see all the different works on display, give a huge amount of exposure and publicity to everyone in the show and then even guarantee that one person would have a sale by the end of the show.

    By doing it this way, at a very minimum, contributors would benefit from the broad public exposure we will create during the “gallery” phase.

    The notion that submitting a design to this shared-gallery contest would be considered working on spec or abuse in any way actually never occurred to me. And, as both a designer and someone who has shared a lot of business advice right here on FSW, myself, I still don’t get the analogy.

    Because, what we area actually doing is opening up the opportunity to participate in a process that is going to happen, whether we run the contest or not, but would traditionally have been closed to outside contribution. Indeed, that internal process will still happen, but I’ve convinced them to not only consider outside contribution, but honor and compensate the people who genuinely contribute through the vehicle of (1) substantial public exposure during the gallery phase and (2) monetary payment, for the winner.

    As an example of how this can benefit all, I am also a copywriter. I recently submitted a sales letter to a competition, where the top 20 or so letters were publicly displayed and then reviewed on the way to announcing the winner. Knowing this was the process was the reason I chose to compete, because, even if I didn’t win, I believed the exposure was more than adequate payment. In fact, the exposure landed me connections, respect and potential revenue streams that, over the next year, will be huge for my career.

    With the book cover contest, I wanted to find a way for everyone who cared to contribute to have the opportunity to experience a similar benefit, in addition to the potential benefit of actually winning.

    It is my deepest desire to not only show respect for, but further the best interests of freelancers of all specialties, including designers. That’s’ why this promotion was crafted in this very specific way…to not only open up a previously closes process, but share a lot a benefit with all who participate, too.

  16. […] check it out. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  17. […] Today, I saw this status update over on Twitter, and was intrigued — not because I’m a designer, but because it concerns an area that I’ve worked with people on, book cover design. The long and short of what’s going on is this: help this guy design the cover of his book and win stuff, including, possibly US$1k. […]

  18. Kevin Williamson says:

    What a great idea?? Get dozens of free covers and pay a marginally competitive price for the winner. How about you have a contest to have dozens of people write a book for me and I will only pay for the one I like?

  19. Sorry it didn’t work out, Jonathan. For the record, it struck me as a great idea and knowing you and the ethical person you are, I am certain it was not your intention to exploit anyone.

    But kudos to you for addressing it head on and discontinuing the contest once you saw it through someone else’s eyes. My hat goes off to you. Good guy!


  20. […] Fields is publishing his upcoming book with Random House. He thought it might be nice to hold a contest for the book cover design. He never imagined he’d be raked over hot coals for doing […]

  21. As an author, I think this is a fabulous idea. As someone who is dating a graphic designer, I can understand why people got upset. SO often designers are ripped off and told “you can add it to your portfolio!”
    I hope you aren’t getting flamed for this though…I totally get that you had only wonderful intentions and think it would have been a cool idea 🙂

  22. Like you I’m also horrified by this. It just goes to show that there is always more, even to us unsuspecting honest people. Sorry it didn’t happen for you, I know how passionate you were about this.

    I actually regretted for once living in Oz as I had the perfect cover in mind. Oh well, c’est la vie!

  23. I commend you on handling this situation so very respectably well.

  24. Nicole Simon says:

    You might be able to use a service called which goes in a similar direction but with clearer rules.