Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That About Covers It Part 1

Before we get into the topic of this blog entry, I wanted to say something about the new look. I've finally upgraded my Blogger template, which now makes adding links a snap. Check to see if you're listed in the links. If you're not, contact me and I'll add you.

Also, I'm putting together a list of all the cool folks who reviewed Dirty Martini, to thank them in the acknowledgements of my next book, and to send them free stuff. If you reviewed me, please drop me a line with your name and address. Thanks, big time. You rock.

Now let's talk cover art.

It is well known in the publishing biz that even huge bestselling authors don't get cover approval in their contracts. Usually, there's a clause that says the author has "cover consulting" which means the publisher makes a cover, the author complains that it is absolutely wrong, and the publisher uses it anyway.

This isn't always the case. Sometimes the author makes some suggestions, and the publisher makes the requested changes.

If you hate your cover, there are some things to keep in mind.

1. Remember that your publisher paid someone to create this, usually based on concepts or ideas that orginated in a meeting. That means a lot of people may have had hands in the design. Screaming how much it sucks won't win you any popularity contests.

2. Your agent is your buffer. Use her. Let her express your unhappiness, so you don't come off looking like an ungrateful prick. Don't respond or reply until you've conferred with your agent and decided on a game plan.

3. Make sure you point out the things that you like about the cover. Even if it's the font, or the way all four corners are perfect 90 degree angles. Say something positive before you start criticizing.

4. Explain why the cover doesn't work for you. Break it down, point by point, and go into some detail why it isn't going to have the desired effect on buyers. Save the passion for the conversation with your agent. Be clinical and intelligent.

5. Offer solutions. Easier solutions will be easier to change than complete overhauls. Overhauls take time and more money. Quick fixes are more apt to be obliged.

6. Be grateful, even if they don't listen to anything you say. Your publisher is your most powerful ally. Don't make them an enemy by being a snotty jerk.

That said, I recently got my cover art for Fuzzy Navel.

I have four minor issues with this cover. Three of those issues have to do with continuity, comparing this to my previous covers. One is something I simply don't like, because it looks odd.

Can you spot my four issues? You can click on it to make it bigger and see more detail. The first person to correctly identify all four gets an advance reading copy when they are printed up.

I'll reveal the answers on Monday, and also reveal how my publisher responded to my suggestions.