STATUS: Such is the joy of January that the processing of Client 1099s with my bookkeeper is fast upon us.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? SO WHAT by Pink
(and man has this title been stuck in my head all day!)
It’s been awhile since I did a real rant on my blog so what better way to kick off the new year then to treat my reading audience to one?
Agents fight the good fight to get a little clause into author contracts that states that the author will have consultation on the cover and the cover copy (be it flap copy, back copy, or what have you).
For the most part, this isn’t too hard to do and is usually established in the agency’s boilerplate with the publisher.
Great right? Cover consultation means that the author will be consulted on what the final cover will look like. One would assume that it would mean that the author might have some input into what the final cover will look like. And all parties understand that given a disagreement on the cover, the publisher will have final say. [Cover Approval stated in contracts being reserved for the Nora’s, Stephenie’s, Neil’s, Stephen’s, and JK’s of the world.]
Good. Everyone is agreed.
And here comes the rant. But what constitutes “consultation” varies widely from publisher to publisher.
Some publishers send the final cover that can no longer be changed, and say you’ve been consulted. Grrrr. If the cover stinks, I’ve got a big fight on my hands. All of which could have been avoided had we just been really consulted—as the contract states.
Some publishers make you work for the consultation. Grrrr. This means you have to call the editor, email the editor, and harass the editor until you get the cover. It’s frustrating and exhausting and let me tell you, if I have a choice between publishers, I’ll consider this aspect when looking at the two deals on the table.
I do want to state here, in general, most editors really do want their authors to be happy with the cover and so will work with you but the above happens enough to make me want to pull my hair out.
Last week I was chatting with an editor (a big and powerful editor whom I just adore) who has included the author and me on every step of the cover process. From the first conception draft to the “final” draft that went to sales (who then rejected it and then we had to start all over and tackle second draft concepts etc.). And when I was talking to this editor on the phone, I paused and took a moment to thank her for really consulting with us on every step of the process. Not just paying lip service to the clause in the contract but really consulting us. And this for a debut author to boot! [Agents expect this with established authors]. Talk about a sheer joy this has been!
She was startled and said, “Why wouldn’t I? You two have been great.” How I long for every editor to handle it this way. Now please keep in mind this: both the author and I were sane, objective, reasonable, and actually offered good suggestions and because of that, all input was taken seriously. Thus the editor trusted us to work on the cover with her—not against her. This plays a big part in this whole consultation game.
But what I wouldn’t give for the cover process to be just like this for every book I sold. I will make sure that during this process, my author and I are sane, reasonable, and offering good suggestions. Just simply give us the chance.