Pub Rants

Category: QandA

Fridays With Agent Kristin: Episode 1 – How To Become A Literary Agent

STATUS: Through snow and more snow, the show must go on!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I FALL TO PIECES by Patsy Cline

Without further ado, I’m delighted to debut in 2012 a series of video blog rants called Fridays With Agent Kristin. And I hope you cut me some slack with this first one because let me tell you, this was hard to do.

Let me take that back. It was really easy to do a crappy video clip. To do a decent one took me an hour and 15 or 20 takes to nail a clip that was even remotely worth taking on to the editing stage.

I have a WHOLE new appreciation for anyone in the broadcasting arts. Seriously! You have to concentrate on pacing, breathing, every word, every pause, and oddly enough, every blink of the eyes.

If you blink normally during a video clip, you’ll look very strange in the finished product. Good thing I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. If I did, it would have never left the idea stage.

So, welcome to Episode 1: How to Become A Literary Agent.

And if you’d like to suggest some topics for me to tackle in future episodes, that’s what the comment section is for. *grin*

Quick & Easy Answers

Status: Doing Client reading.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? IS THIS LOVE by Bob Marley

1) What happens if you can’t sell a book to a publisher?
If we have exhausted all possibilities, I’ll put aside and concentrate on the author’s next work. If the next sells, that always allows us to revisit the prior novel. Sometimes the decision is made to let the past be the past and simply move forward.

2) How do you know if a writer’s idea is a good one?
Not a clue really. All I know is what I like and what really resonates with me. I’ve had the good fortune of having what I like generally match up with what editors like and are willing to buy. Just like every other agent in the world, I’m not 100% right all the time. Sometimes I love a book and can’t sell it.

3) If Hollywood has bought the film rights, does the author get a share in the profit?
The sad news is that in general, the author does not get a share in the profit. Although all film deals will have the standard “5% of 100% of net,” most Hollywood films will never show a profit because of how studios manipulate the accounting. It’s worse than the mafia. So agents often build in a lot of ways for the author to make money on the film deal that aren’t tied to “profit” so loosely defined. The option price, the purchase price, bestseller bonuses, box office bonuses etc. These are payments that are not contingent on the film making money.

However, some authors do get a share in the profit. That is not a percentage based on net but a percentage based on a cashbreak point on gross.

A very different thing. Also, it is possible to put merchandizing in a separate pool with a separate percentage. Good money to potentially be made there as well.

4) Can you publish your book yourself or do you have to have a publisher?
Of course you can publish a book yourself! That’s not the right question though. Anyone can self publish; the question is distribution and how to get folks to read what you self publish.

5) How do you decide if the cover art is good?
I have to say that cover art is not my strength as an agent. I have no background in art and not much of a creative vision. However, I do know what I like and what I don’t like. If I don’t like it and neither does the author, I fight like crazy to get it changed.

6) Do publishers show animation for cover concepts?
No. But wouldn’t that be cool?

7) What happens if more than one publisher wants the book?
Then you have an auction my friend! As an author, it’s always the best place to be. However, I do think that writers have a misconception that all auctions equal big money. That is not necessarily true. You can have modest auctions that are in low five figures.

One Possible Peril Of A Multi-book Deal

STATUS: Heading out into a glorious day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE OTHERSIDE by Breaks Co-op

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this sometime before but it could have been years since my last entry on it for all I know. One of the perils of a multi-book contract is a little detail called joint accounting or cross-collateralizing the titles.

For the record, our agency won’t do joint accounting. All the publishers know that and if they want to insist on it, then we can only talk about selling one book and any multi-book contract is nixed. I see absolutely zero benefit in joint accounting for the author. However, some well-respected publishers do like to push for it—especially for debut authors. Tor being one example. Some houses never practice joint accounting. Harlequin being one example

First off, what is it? Basically, it means that the multiple titles sold are linked in the accounting. Let’s say an author does a 2-book deal. It’s not a series so each title stands on its own. Let’s say the advance was $30,000 (15k per title). In joint accounting, the author would not see any monies beyond the advance until both titles earned out the 15k because of the linked accounting (even if book one has already earned out).

With no joint accounting, each title has its own separate accounting so once the 15k earns out for book one, the author doesn’t have to wait for the other title to earn out to earn royalties on that first title. Or vice versa. Each title is separately accounted.

That’s it in a nutshell. If you are only selling one book, this is never an issue. It’s only a point of discussion if an editor is offering for several books.

As a matter of practice, when an editor calls to offer for 2 books (or 3 or whatever), I always begin the convo with “our agency will not do joint accounting. Given that, are we talking about one book or more than one?” This establishes it before anything else so it’s not even a factor as the negotiation unfolds.

Once again, I can only speak for myself. Other agents might differ on their opinion of this. You might be wondering why any author would agree to it.

Well, if you are getting 7-figure advance for two books and the publisher insists on joint? Do you care? Interesting question, no?

The One-Book Deal

STATUS: A nice and productive day. I think I want summer hours though. Leave by 1. Play in the sunshine. I know Chutney is all for it.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DO YOU SLEEP by Lisa Loeb

Today let’s tackle the single book contract. What are the advantages and disadvantages to doing just a one-book deal? Considering what we discussed yesterday, it seems ludicrous to sell just one book!

Well, not really. Most one-book deals are for literary fiction and occasionally for what we would call the “big” commercial literary fiction. Commercial literary fiction is really just literary fiction that has a commercial hook or slant. For example, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is a good example of commercial literary. Or TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. Or HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.

Does this make sense?

And there are lots of reasons to do a one-book deal.

1. Literary fiction takes longer to write. Sometimes it’s not feasible to write a second book on a prescribed deadline so authors will contract one book at a time. Wally Lamb (SHE COMES UNDONE) is kind of known for never selling a book until it’s written and then he sells that one book only.

2. A one-book contract can alleviate the pressure on the author. The sophomore effort can be a tricky thing. I know from experience that every author hits a stumbling block with that second novel and it really doesn’t matter the genre you write in.

3. Literary fiction—especially those that lean commercial—often get undersold initially and then break out big later. If there is a sense that that could happen, why lock the author in for a certain amount of money?

4. The author might not have a second novel to propose and he/she just doesn’t want to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. And the author might take 10 years to write next literary novel. It happens.

5. If the author’s editor leaves and there is just a one-book contract, it can make it cleaner for the author to follow his/her editor to a new house. One’s editor tends to be really important in literary fiction. There is a certain trust that can be very beneficial to the literary writer.

Now having mentioned these things, you can kind of see the flipside to the argument.

1. A two-book contract might be preferred if there is a lot of hype and a book sells for a lot of money and then doesn’t perform. How nice would it be to have a commitment to two books already lined up if that’s the case? A chance of redemption or getting those numbers back up.

2. A Publisher may delay acquisition of a future book until they have sales figures for the first book. Since books easily take 18 months to publish, it’s a long time to wait to get a new contract—especially if the author is trying to earn a living here.

(Just a note, this post is from our archives. Some references and links may be from past years.)

STATUS: I was “this close” to getting to everything on my TO DO list today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MY WAY by Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson

Last year, a fellow agent friend and I gave a workshop on doing a single-book contract versus a multi-book contract. I was a little surprised at how many writers showed up for it. Hey, maybe these would make a few good blog entries.

First Q: When is doing a single-book contract ideal and when is a multi-book contract best?

Answering this question takes into consideration a lot of different factors. Let’s start with the obvious. If you write genre fiction, it’s almost always to an author’s advantage to do a multi-book contract.

For example, if you write fantasy and the first book being sold is the first in an envisioned trilogy, well, it would be better to have the publisher commit to three books. That way the entire series has a shot of being published. It often takes several books for a series to pick up momentum. What’s important is the publisher commitment—even if in the end a series does well and it was “undersold” initially in terms of the advance.

More common case is that a series has to build over time with the subsequent books and then the books start to earn out. Besides, who wants to sell book 1 in a trilogy only to be left in a lurch if the publisher doesn’t pick up the other books? It’s not easy (read “nearly impossible) to sell books 2 & 3 to another house. If sales are sluggish, it’s really unlikely another house will pick it up.

For another genre such as romance, careers build best if an author can release books within 6 to 8 months from each other. That means really tight schedules/deadlines for the author to make that work so doing multi-book contracts make sense. It’s also best to do multi if the stories are “linked” (as in they stand alone but have characters that might have been introduced in first novel).

Is there an advantage or disadvantage for doing 2 books vs. 3 or 4? Sure. Lots of agents differ on their opinion of this so I can only speak for myself. In general for me, the number of books sold at one time depends on the author (how fast he/she can write), on the project (how many books envisioned) and whether I think the author was undervalued. What I mean by that is if the offer was initially too low for a 3 or 4 book deal or if I thought the monies should have been higher in the auction and I don’t want to lock the author in for too many books at the lower rate. Obviously, reverse is true. If the monies are good, then why not lock in for more books as the commitment is strong from the publisher.

As you can see, lots of factors at play. How does an agent know? We’ve been doing this long enough that we pretty much use our gut sense of what feels right as the offer unfolds. I’ve yet to be wrong.

I’ll talk about single-book contract tomorrow.

Photo by Black ice from Pexels

POV—Which Is Best?

STATUS: I had a terrific day but can’t blog about why quite yet. So just know I’m in a great mood.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BROKEN HEARTED HOOVER FIXER SUCKER GUY by Glen Hansard

Life would be good if people would quit asking me impossible questions. *grin*

And yes, I’ve taken the admonishment to do my emoticons correctly.

So this is the situation. Last week we asked for a full manuscript from a partial we had read. The writer emailed to say he was contemplating a big revision shifting POV.

Did I think first person or third person would work best for the story?

My answer? Not the faintest idea.

For some genres, like romance, a first person POV is always a tough sell so in that case, I’d probably recommend third. But for this instant, the manuscript was young adult.

There have certainly been bestsellers in this genre in the first person POV and bestsellers in the third person POV. The real answer is what POV best fits the story and best illustrates the main characters.

If we need to be inside the main character’s head, then first person POV. If the story would benefit from being able to head hop (as you can do in third person), well, then there you have it. But honestly, I can’t read the first 30 pages of a submission and tell you which I think would work better. Perhaps if I saw both submission side-by-side I could make a judgment but it’s very unlikely I would go to that trouble (unless we were talking about a current client).

I heard, and I have no idea if it’s true or not, that Suzanne Collins did the HUNGER GAMES first 50 to 100 pages both ways before choosing the final direction. Makes sense that a writer would need to explore both before making a final decision but ultimately, it’s the writer who will know best what feels right for the story.

At least that’s how I see it.

Q&A—Round 4

STATUS: Boy this flu is just hanging on. I’m counting 15 or 16 days and it’s still not completely gone.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON by Joe Cocker

Pre-Bologna, I had not finished up our last round of questions and answers. I didn’t forget! I just haven’t had enough time to tackle them in a while. But I did save the questions and so I plan to dive right back in.

Anonymous Asked:
1) Who do you decide “gets” a project if you and Sara both want it? If someone queried “Kristin” or “Sara” and got back a partial request “from Kristin and Sara” does that mean you’ll both consider it and whoever likes it best might take it on? Or does that mean only the one it’s addressed to will consider it?
This is a good question. If the original query is addressed to Sara, then she has first dibs on it. If the query is addressed to me, then I do. We both, however, tend to read the submissions where a full is requested. Just so we can talk about the project and why one or the other might like it or want to offer representation. Sometimes, I like a project and it’s not Sara’s cup of tea and vice versa. That way if we both read the fulls requested (regardless of who asked for it), we know we won’t miss out on something that might come down to a difference in taste.

2) You are known for sending out a book until it sells, whereas some agents only send to ten or twelve and they are done. But do you have a list of favorite editors who you contact first no matter what?
Agents certainly have a list of their favorite editors. These are the people we connect with the most. We know our tastes line up etc. However, each submission is different. As an agent, we want the right editor to have it—not just a favorite editor so the answer is no, there isn’t a list of editors who get a submission no matter what.

Anonymous asked:
You seem to have a lot going on in the YA market. But as a romance writer, I wondered how many romance writers did you sign last year? And are you looking for more?

Hum…I’d say with 6 RITA nominations the week before last, we’ve got a lot going on in the romance world as well. Grin. Are we looking for more? Of course! There is always room for a good author. However, in general, I don’t sign a lot of clients in any given year. I’m very selective on who and what I take on. Last year I signed only one romance author. To put that in context, I only signed 2 authors total last year.

Katrina asked:
What are your biggest pet peeves for queries, and do you have a list of things you saw in past queries that rocked your socks off?
For queries, my only criteria be that it is well written and fit in the types of projects we currently represent. Otherwise, I don’t have any specific pet peeves. Peeves come from poorly written queries. For those, we just send the auto-rejection and move on. For queries that knocked our socks off? The writer had nailed the pitch paragraph. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out my blog pitch workshop right here on the right sidebar of my blog.

Mechelle Fogelsong asked:
Nathan Bransford recently asked us which author’s career we’d like to mimic. I chose Jane Yolen, because her career has longevity. So my question is simple: what’s the key to becoming an author with longevity? To stay afloat for the long-haul?

The key to longevity is creating an excellent sales track record and continuing to write books that feel timely, fresh, and appeal to your established audience as well as to new fans.

Right. So much easier said than done. That’s why there is no answer to this question about what creates author longevity. It’s so many factors that come together and work. And those specific factors may differ depending on the author. In other words, what works for one career might not work for another.

Eika asked:
Going for the long shot here, but I haven’t started querying yet and I’m still feeling optimistic. What is the exact etiquette if you’re offered representation and someone else has the full? To the agent on the phone with, what do you say? And to the person with the full, do you phone them? E-mail?
The etiquette: If an agent calls and offers representation, you go through all the normal questions you should be asking an agent who has offered rep. Then you express your enthusiasm for the offer but since it’s a big decision, you want to give all agents with fulls time to respond. Set a timeline for one you will get back to the offering agent. That time frame can be one week, five full business days, over the weekend (whatever feels appropriate). Then inform all other agents with the full. I’d send an email first. If you don’t get a confirm after one day regarding your update, then I’d call to make sure the message was received. After that, I think you’ve done all the due diligence you need to.

Then stick to the timeline you had requested. And of course, if the first agent who has offered is your top candidate, there might not be any reason to go through the above. Of course if you do accept representation, then immediately inform all others with the full so they don’t waste time reading a manuscript that is no longer available. Hope this helps!

Q&A 2010—Round Three

STATUS: How can you not feel joyous with 70 degree weather in March? Chutney and I skipped home from the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? RUNAWAY TRAIN by Soul Asylum

Just diving right into the questions today.

Shelley Watters asked:

1. As far as re-querying an agent – if a writer queries an agent for a story and is rejected, how long should they wait before submitting a new project (not the rejected one but an entirely new project) to that agent? It seems that agents differ on their answers to this question.
Of course we all differ on what the answer would be. That’s why publishing is so maddening to writers. For me, I’d say wait 4 weeks, then query with new project. But here’s the kicker. DO NOT mention that you have queried the agency before. Act like this is the first query ever that you are sending us. We get 150 queries a day. Chances are very good we won’t remember your name (unless you have a really unique name that is!) Writers for some reason feel obligated to tell us their whole prior history of our rejecting their queries. Don’t be seduced!

2. I understand that a writer/agent relationship is not simply for one book, but hopefully for the entire career of the writer. I write across genres (from children’s picture books to young adult novels to adult novels). I have been submitting my picture books to agents that specialize in picture books. If I manage to get an agent for the picture books but they do not represent YA novels, does that mean I have to start the querying process all over again?
I have to say I’d be a little surprised if an agent who reps picture books doesn’t also rep other children’s projects. Let’s say imagine they don’t and you have an agent for your picture book but also want him/her to shop a YA. I’d talk with the agent first and ascertain comfort level to do that. I know a lot of agents who specialize in children’s but will also rep an adult project by a current client and can do so quite successfully.

I have several YA and MG authors. If any of them had a picture book, I would shop it for them although in general I don’t want to take on clients for just picture books. It’s a really tough thing to sell.

Therese asked:
Is there a specific market for YA nonfiction?
Yes there is but it’s significantly smaller than the market for fiction.

I personally have a memoir (250 pgs) that I would love to target for High School Family Studies. It’s sort of like “Tuesday’s with Morrie” & “The Last Lecture” but as if written by Erma Bombeck -and no one dies until 46 years later – and it chronicles a happy family life after the traumatic event that shaped them… and no one did drugs, or got too depressed or… but boy is there conflict and drama. 🙂
And of course memoir would be THE toughest thing to sell in a YA market but it has been done. In fact, I took some time to look up a few titles that I had seen recently for teens but couldn’t remember the exact titles. A quick search on Amazon and BN didn’t yield much. That shows what you are up against. I ended up not being able to find the titles I was thinking about as I couldn’t remember the either author’s name–just the subject matter of each memoir.

Anonymous asked:
I’m curious to how you would handle an author who writes mainstream romance novels and multicultural romance novels under separate pseudonyms.

I’m not sure I understand the question. Authors use multiple pseudonyms often. There’s nothing special about “handling” it. An agent would just need to make sure that option clauses were restricted for the two genres so the author doesn’t get in trouble with the publishers over it. Also, agent would have to modify the no compete clause in both contracts to accommodate as well.

Kaya asked:
Are you open to queries from Asian countries as well?


Heidi Wesman Kneale asked:
We all know it’s a hooky voice that gets an agent/editor’s attention, but it’s a satisfactory story that cinches the deal. Say you get pitched by a hopeful writer who has a great voice, but their story plot fizzles. “Not interested in this story, but would like to see other works,” you might say

So they send you another pitch, and then another pitch, and then another pitch, but you must turn them down because the stories are dull, lackluster and very flat. At what point would you say, “You’ve got a great voice, but you can’t write a satisfactory story arc?” Or would you not say that at all, hoping that some day they will write a cracking good tale?
I can only say how I would handle it. For me, I’d give the writer two chances and if they couldn’t nail a great story with that lovely voice, I’d be moving on. There are too many other great writers out there who have mastered this.

Clare asked:
In Hollywood, the time of year a movie is released typically speaks volumes of a studio’s expectations of success, keeping tentpole movies in the May – July bracket and the less ambitious projects in January – March. Is the same true for publishing? Does the month/season a book is released say anything about how the publisher expects a book to perform? And are certain genres more commonly released during certain parts of the year?

The answer is yes—publishing mimics those months/seasons as well. Traditionally, it’s the hardest to launch a debut author in the fall—specifically in the months of October, November, and December as that is the time that the publishers release their big box authors for the holiday season. Competition is fierce for the customer’s attention and buying dollars.

Now having said that, Simone Elkeles was launched in December for what was her fourth book PERFECT CHEMISTRY and that gamble paid off handsomely. Walker knew that teens would be buying this novel on their own with holiday money or gift cards and so risked releasing that title during the “big release” season. Also keep in mind that the children’s world operates a little differently than adult divisions which is why Jamie’s HOTEL was released in January. Much easier to get review attention and the big push in that month. Fewer books to compete against.

Q&A 2010—Round Two

STATUS: The pre-Bologna must-finish-all-stuff-before-I-leave-town rush has begun.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MERCY by Duffy

I thought I would have a bit more time to blog tonight so my apologies for not tackling a ton of questions this round.

kimysworld asked:
Compared to the first three months of last year, have you received more or less query letters in the first three months of 2010? What are the most common genres? What do you rarely see?

Yes, our query inbox has definitely grown from last year. This time in 2009, we were probably seeing 80 to 100 queries a day. Now it’s more like 100-150. I have no explanation for it. Perhaps we are on more people’s radar?

Most common genres? Young adult, romance, women’s fiction.

What I would like to see more of? Well written query letters. Grin. You knew I was going to say that. I’d say that easily 50% of stuff we get is for nonfiction or something else we don’t represent.

I’d love to see more queries for literary fiction with a commercial bent, middle grade, and more sf&f. I’d like to build in these areas (and yes we are still beefing our list in the above stuff as well.)

Anonymous asked:
If a writer has gained success in one genre (over twenty novels that have made money, helped build a large fan base, and five contracts for five more books) and he/she wants to switch genres after the contractual obligations have been met because he/she always wanted to write mainstream, is this writer starting from scratch again? But more than that, would this writer be taking a huge chance by walking away from a good thing and trying to pursue another?

I’m a little leery about answering this question. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Also, this is a conversation you really should be having with your current agent. Now having said that, I will try and answer—although my gut tells me that you already know the answers to your questions and perhaps you are simply looking for encouragement or validation as you walk this new path.

Of course the author would be taking a chance by walking away and starting something else. You already know that is the answer. My question is this: does it have to be one or the other? As in do you have to walk away or can you scale back the number of books in that genre in order to give yourself time to work on something mainstream?

Are you no longer passionate about the genre you are established in? If that is the case, then it may not be worth pursuing more books because your heart isn’t in it. What is your financial picture and can you afford to take a risk? Will fans of your current established genre be open to a move in a new direction? Can you live with that fact if the fans aren’t willing to follow you?

If you want to be safe, I’d keep a foot in your current genre and then test the waters with a new work that is more mainstream. If your heart isn’t in staying in the old genre than you just have to jump in and try it.

There are many stories where this has been successful for the author and I can probably highlight as many stories of where it hasn’t.

Anonymous asked:
How much of your time do you spend reading query letters versus time spent blogging? I’m just wondering because there are several agents who blog every day and I often wonder where they find the time.

I actually don’t spend a lot of time reading queries. First off, we’ve hired a wonderful assistant named Anita. Her job is to read all queries that come in as we can get up to 150 a day. She sets aside the ones that Sara and I need to review. Given that, I try and check my query email inbox once a week. It usually takes me 15 minutes to read the queries there and decide if I want to ask for sample pages or not.

As for blogging, I give myself 20 to 30 minutes a day to write my one entry. That’s it.

Constance asked:
How do you know if or when to resend something to an agent? Are you only supposed to resend a query when they ask you, or can you even when they don’t, if you’ve made extensive revisions?
Constance, I think if you extensively rework a query letter so it’s basically new, I’d resend it. My suggestion? Change the title to something new. Sometimes titles stand out and it will sound familiar. In terms of time span, if you submitted queries and have received mainly rejection responses, I’d revise significantly, wait about 3 weeks, then resend. What can an agent do? Track you down and chastise you for resubmitting? Grin. Be bold. Now if you are rejected numerous times by same agent. Move on. Lots of other agent fishes in the sea.

Alli asked:
Oh, boy, I should triple check before I press send. Here’s the real question:
Would you consider SOMEONE published if they have worked as a writer for a book packager?
Yes. Especially if the book packager is a well-known company with a strong record.

Q&A 2010—Round One

STATUS: I shouldn’t pat myself on the back when I have to leave next week to go out of town. I so want to enjoy being caught up.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LEGEND IN YOUR OWN TIME by Carly Simon

Wow. That’s a plethora of Qs. At least I know what I’ll be gabbing about next week—which is good because pre-trip is always a tad hectic.

worstwriterever asked:
1) If you had to choose a different career than literary agent, what would you choose?
I used to teach college back in the day. Unbelievable to me that it has been over 15 years ago now. I think if I weren’t going to be a lit agent, I’d probably teach again. I really enjoyed it.

Of course what I like to be is independently wealthy. Wink.

2) I tweeted your post(s) yesterday because they rocked. If you’re not on Twitter, how come?
Oi! It’s on my list of things to do. Honestly! Anita, our new fab assistant is getting us on Facebook and Twitter very soon so keep an eye out.

MeganRebekah asked:
I don’t know if this outside your power/knowledge, but I’m wondering why Perfect Chemisty isn’t available on Kindle?

In this case did the publisher decide not to go ebook? Or was that decision made on different level? Any insight onto the reasoning?

Walker, Simone, and I all want to be in eBook format. The eBook was supposed to be available by now but the reason it isn’t has a lot to do with the whole Amazon hoopla and publishers changing to the agency commission model etc. I expect it will be available very soon as Simone’s editor keeps assuring me that it’s in the pipeline etc.

Cheryl asked:
Staying with the cover art theme, could you explain the process. I assume the editor gives the art department direction and the writer’s input is slim to nil (unless your name is Stephen King and your publisher contracts an independent illustrator to do your cover art).

And have you ever had to battle a publisher on your client’s behalf because the cover art was just all wrong or looked like it had been slopped together?
The answer to this question really depends on the editor and the publisher involved. I have some editors who keep us in the loop on EVERYTHING regarding the cover—including seeing early sketches from the cover artist. Then other houses just want to present the finished cover to you (which I hate). Now, in general, editors really want their authors to be happy with covers so they often ask for a lot of feedback before the cover process begins such as how a character looks or scenes that could be cool if represented.

No matter what, I always have a new author put together a file of covers they love and why (and grabbing most from their publisher but others are included too). That way the house gets a sense of the author’s taste even if they aren’t going to get a direct say in the art.

And yes, I’ve done many a battle over cover art. Sometimes I’ve won. And sometimes I have not. In the latter case, I always pray that the publisher was right and I was wrong and the cover works in a big way.

More Qs tomorrow.