Pub Rants

Speaking Of Bad Covers

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STATUS: I’m heading to Red Rocks tonight for a concert. I want the rain to hold off. It never rains in Colorado—except for this summer and on the evenings I have a concert in an open venue.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND by Patsy Cline

Today, an editor emailed me to say that I was going to get the publisher’s catalog in the mail but not to freak out regarding the cover for one of my author’s titles.

This is never a good sign.

The editor went on to say that the picture was a place holder for the catalog only and that the cover was changing.

Good to know. So of course I email back and request that they send me the jpg of whatever cover they used in the catalog so I can be prepared (and so I can prepare the author).

The editor does.

Oh my. Truly a hideous cover. I’m so glad the editor emailed to say that it wasn’t going to be the final cover, don’t worry about it, she hates it too, it’s changing.

And no, I can’t share it on the blog (however sorely tempted).

I shared it with my marketing director, Lindsay, and we just had a moment of commiseration. Sometimes you have to wonder what the art department was thinking because honestly, I can’t imagine who thought this cover was okay. I’m not even a design person (really, it’s not my strong point) but even I looked at this and went, uh, no.

There’s no symmetry, no beautiful colors, not even an interesting person on the cover. Bland would sum it up.

But hooray, this isn’t the cover. The editor called us both to talk concepts and ideas and get our input. Love that.

So, I won’t worry unduly. That is until I see the next jpg. Grin.

13 Responses

  1. Maureen McGowan said:

    Oh, that’s too bad.

    What will happen with a bad cover in the catalog? Will the booksellers still order it? Will the publisher’s sales people know that it’s not the actual cover?

    Just wondering how much that sort of thing affects orders into book stores.

  2. nkrell said:

    I had the same question as Maureen. Will it affect orders?

    It’s unbelievable how much work is involved in getting a book published.

  3. Holly Rutchik said:

    I hope this very poor oversight opens the door for them to be a bit more open than normal to your ideas and wants for the cover!

    I LOVE this blog!

  4. jacketwhys said:

    I’ve been kind of wondering if all the LIAR controversy is making publishers rethink their next catalogs. Could this be what your situation is all about?

  5. Christy Pinheiro said:

    Bad covers have spawned a slew of online blogs– they are a joke market for so many bloggers. I am getting ready to publish a book about Amazon and marketing, and there’s an example of a cover in there where an American author uses the word “Spunk” in her title, not knowing that this is the sland term for “Semen” in the UK. The cover has spawned a slew of online jokes.

    The longer I am in this business, the more I see that a book’s cover often trumps a book’s interior.

  6. D. Scott Semple said:

    This is a little off topic, but…
    I LOVE Red Rocks! When I was younger I saw U2’s video, which was filmed when they were in concert there in the early 80’s. I always wanted to see it. When I lived in Denver it was one of the first places I visited, though I never got to see a show there. I went down and stood on the stage and imagined singing “I Will Follow” just like Bono!! In fact, if memory serves me, I think it was raining when they played there! Hope the concert is fun anyway.

  7. Chris Bates said:

    @Jacketwhys: I guess the upside for Justine Larbalestier is that the book has been given tons of exposure.

    Little of it to actual consumers, however.

  8. Glen Akin said:

    Yeah but still won’t that screw with the book’s sales though? If the cover is as horrifying as you say it is, which bookseller in their right mind would want to buy the book? I know it’s not the final cover but first impressions go a long way to making or breaking a book. Gone are the days where people never judged books by their cover.

  9. Lauren said:

    The catalogs occasionally say “final cover art to come” or “cover not final” when the publisher is aware of coming changes ahead of time.

    Since catalogs are sent out six months (or more!) prior to the books’ pub dates, booksellers are pretty aware that covers might go through several incarnations. I won’t say it doesn’t influence the buy, but buyers are generally pretty savvy about how fluid things can be right up until pub time.

    Sales reps are definitely informed about cover changes (heck, sometimes they even suggest them). When they go on sales calls to bookstores, they inform the buyers that there’s new art coming. Sometimes, they’re even armed with it already: the art department passes the new cover on to the editors and the marketing people, who email the images to the sales reps. They definitely recognize the art’s importance for sell-in.

  10. Stephanie said:

    Crossing fingers that the cover art is much better in the end!!!

    I can’t wait to see what my publisher comes up with for my cover art!!! It’s such an exciting thing…it
    s the first thing people see and it’s what draws them into your book….so so important!!!