Cover Queen

This is worth reading: Mandy Roth's process Cover art in the smaller presses.

The bigger publishers--it's a whole different story.

But since I deal with the little guys, lately....I have a strong new opinion and my attitude has changed. A lot. As in I now believe my opinion shouldn't matter at all.

Seriously, dudes, what I like isn't relevant and, these days, when I see that form asking me for my preferences, I wonder why do they ask me?

My name might be on the cover, but this is a project involving specialists in all sorts of fields. Do they think I know what sells or doesn't sell? I know the sort of covers I prefer, but I'm too close to the story plus--and this is more important-- my tastes might not match other readers, the people who'll actually buy my book.

At that point, once the publisher has acquired my story and used my input to turn the book into something polished [sidenote: BUT HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, NOT JUST MY INPUT PLEASE. Thank you.]Anyway . . . . once I'm done with the text, my preferences shouldn't matter because I'm not the expert.

I do know about art, thank you SMFA, but I haven't taken marketing classes. I haven't surveyed the readers to find out what they like to see on their books.

I hope someone at the publisher has done just those things. If they haven't, then I'm in a lot more trouble than if they put up a red curly title instead of blue san serif one.

Obviously I know certain things: Bad photoshopping is icky. Having a blonde heroine and a brunette on the cover annoys a lot of readers.

But that's basic stuff and the art department knows that, too, right? I hope? And I hope they give a damn about that stuff, too. IF they don't seem to know or care about production quality, then yeah, my opinion suddenly is relevant again--to me, anyway.

Otherwise, it shouldn't make the slightest bit of difference if I loathe those cut off head torsos or those peculiar montages or I feel nausea at the sight of pumped-up mantitty. If the readers like them, and the art department does the style right, I'll shut the fuck up. Mostly.

But sometimes I can't and then I hold a contest to make sure everyone sees the awesomeness that is a cover. (It's old, but still a classic.)


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    You said it yourself, it's YOUR name on the cover. You're the only one people associate with the book--not the art department or even the editor. Do you really want your name on something you despise?

    Don't forget that the readers all think you had something to do with picking that cover. If you're lucky enough to have some input on your cover, don't you think you ought to use it?


  2. They haven't read your book though, so your input is important if the cover is to reflect what your book is about.

    If you've written a thriller, do you really want frou-frou flowers, if you've written a chick-lit style novel, do you want a guy with a gun on the cover? If it's a menage, it's better to make sure there are three people on the cover, so readers can quickly tell without reading the blurb.

    Yeah, dood, that stuff's important for you to tell 'em.

  3. Hi Lea and Leah!

    I get that it's important to give the art department the basic plot of the book not to mention the mood. I don't want a grinning cartoon cover on a gothick.

    But that's the beginning and end of my part of the job: making sure that those details are right, like your menage example (excellent one!).

    I must say that I was just looking at a series by a fairly well-known mystery author and was struck by how every single book looked completely different from the others. There was no connecting the covers.

    I don't like it when the covers are TOO similar (like some of those Brockmanns lately) but it seems sort of Cover Art 101 to have some connecting design theme for books featuring the same characters.

    Maybe the pros didn't talk amongst themselves enough?


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