Monday, July 09, 2007

"I Hate My Book Cover!"

I was talking to an author recently, who confessed that she strongly dislikes the jacket art for her first novel that's coming out next year.

I asked, "Did you talk to your agent about it?"

"No," she said. "I didn't want to bother her." Instead, she's negotiating with her editor for a new design, but the prognosis doesn't look good.

This is a common situation, especially for first-time authors, and I've been asked several times how best to resolve it. I usually tell people to talk to their agents. However, in the case of one new author with a small press, I researched cover designs and stock photos, and the publisher ultimately gave her a glorious new cover that she loves.

Still, the issue has been weighing on my mind, so I emailed several agents, asking:
  • What do you think: Should an author get the agent involved when there are problems with the book jacket? And if so, how to do it without ruffling feathers at the publishing house?

  • When should--and shouldn't--an author involve the agent with editorial or publicity problems?
Proving once again that Great Minds Think Alike, agent Kristin Nelson shot back that she had just written a blog post on this very topic, Public Service Message Take Two:
When you receive the brand-spanking new cover art and you hate it, don’t go with your first impulse of wanting to pick up the phone to call your editor. Trust me, an author’s worst moment is seeing cover art they hate and this is not the time to have a conversation with your editor when emotions are running high. Don’t do it. Call your agent instead. We are trained to handle it.
Julie Hill wrote:
I urge my clients to at least ask every question that arises, preferably by email so I can think on it a bit. If I do not think I can be of help, I refer them to their editor or publicist--if a new book, the inhouse publicist too.

NOTE: I'll always go to bat if it is something I really can contribute to the task at hand. A few more phone calls toward a happy author is always worth it. A bad cover, for example, is a huge issue for everyone concerned.
Bad covers = bad sales.
I'll post more responses as I get them.

1 comment:

James Griffin said...

Hi Bella, I'm a book cover artist and I have seen this kind of thing, quite recently where a new author received the ugliest cover ever concieved for her book, a cover so bad that the book was basically doomed. I can't name names or reveal who the author or publisher is, ( I want to stay employed! ). This author didn't take it lying down. She sewed a costume, posed a relative and made her own cover design in photoshop. She not only objected to the coer, she did something about it, showing the publisehr what she wanted. The gave in and handed me the assignment, along with the author's sketch. All I can say is she's a happy author now and so is the publisher. Alos, I'm pretty sure it'll be a strong seller. So authors, don't be timid when they slap an awful cover on you precious book!
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