Pub Rants

So What’s An Author To Do?

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STATUS: Feeling giddy! I’m just realizing that my assistant Sara is so efficient, I’m having trouble keeping up with her! But, because of her wonderfulness, I’m almost caught up. I have some queries to review from last week, a small stack of screened partials that are unfortunately from late April or early May (sorry!) and of course, three or four full manuscripts that I’ve been woefully behind on reading. For those of you waiting, I apologize. A response is just around the corner.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? US AND THEM by Pink Floyd

Let me repeat for good measure that the good majority of authors only have cover consultation and not cover approval. So what’s an author to do?

Well, I push them to be pro-active about the cover in a meaningful way—as soon as right after the sale. If they have ideas, let’s list them. Let’s highlight scenes that might make a good cover image. I even tell my authors to make a visual chart (with jpgs included) of covers they love and list the reasons why. (This works better if you choose covers the publisher has actually published recently.)

For SF & Fantasy, a lot of writers know the artists and their work (Linnea LOVES Dave Seeley’s stuff and was over the moon when she found out he was going to be her cover artist.) If an artist might be a good fit, why not mention it and send the editor the weblink to the artist’s website.

My historical author sent a whole gallery of pictures from the era of her story. The photo album included pictures of all the principal characters in the story, tidbits on what living person today descended from these historical figures, pictures of the main settings etc. All rich detail to inspire the cover artist to really imagine a romantic image of the time. We’ve gotten some gorgeous covers.

And I’ve never had editors say NO to this kind of input. (Remember, they want their authors to be happy with the cover.)

Will it ensure a good cover? No. The publisher can disregard all input.

However, it allows the author to participate in the discussion.

And Publishers do listen. Just this week, an author and I asked for some cover tweaks and the publisher obliged.

9 Responses

  1. Jenna Petersen said:

    This is so true! I sent my editor a jpg of a cover I loved and I guess the art department just flipped. It gave them something to work from and I got a cover that was more beautiful than I ever could have hoped for. And it established a ‘look’ for my series, so the second book’s cover is also ridiculously beautiful. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

  2. Anonymous said:

    “Keeping up with Sara”

    Yeah, Sara can delete those query e-mails and hit that auto-reply macro button faster than Kristin can keep up!

    But… *sniff* I’m not bitter. I’m not bitter!

    April 4, 2007

    KRISTIN: Sara, uh… you know what? I just realized that we haven’t taken on a new novel to represent in almost a full year.

    SARA: Of course not.

    KRISTIN: Why is that?

    SARA: Because I’ve been rejecting all those awful, cockadoodie authors using the Out-of-office autoreply.

    KRISTIN: What’s are you doing with that axe, Sara? What’s the matter?

    SARA: What’s the matter? What’s the matter??? I will tell you “what’s the matter!” I go out of my way for you! I do everything to try and make you happy. I process the queries, I open the mail, I walk the dog, and what thanks do I get? “Oh, you bought the wrong paper, Sara, I can’t write on this paper, Sara!”

    Well, I’ll get your stupid paper but you just better start showing me a little appreciation around here, Ms. MAN!

    KRISTIN: Uh… A little less Stephen King for you, Sara, and you really need to remember to take your Xanax.

  3. kis said:

    anon, I can vouch for the fact that Sara is indeed screening the queries, and even requesting the odd partial (in my case, very odd). Here’s hoping the inclusion in my partial of a dreaded prologue–albeit one that could have been called chapter zero–doesn’t completely kill my chances!

  4. Anonymous said:

    Good luck, KIS! Congrats on the first hurdle!

    (Wow, that was suprisingly hard to say with a mouth full of sour grapes!)

  5. kis said:

    Thanks, anon.

    And hey, all I did was follow Evil Editor’s sage example when I wrote my query letter. You read a few of his critiques and it really gives you a feel for what works.

    Of course, that doesn’t explain the four rejections I’ve received based on the same letter.


  6. kis said:

    Troubled *and* confused.:)

    Actually, I never submitted my query to EE–I’m way too chicken as yet. I’d rather have my stuff ridiculed in the privacy of an agent’s office than in the blogoshere. I am quite voluble in the comment stream from time to time, tho. (Sometimes too voluble. Ahem.)

    You prob’ly just have me confused with someone else who has it in for French Canadian separatists or something.

    (Good to hear I’m making an impression, tho!)