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Barbarique
08-05-2007, 08:01 PM
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nevada
08-05-2007, 08:15 PM
You will get 1% input into your bookcover and even then it might be rejected. Publishing companies have scores of people with years of education in marketing behind them who know the markets inside and out and they know what turns a browser into a buyer. The cover that you think is arresting might be a total turn off to a book buyer.

Depending on where the book is sold it will have a different cover. It's not just for fun that covers in the UK, Canada, and the US are different. Or that hardcover covers are often different from the paperback edition. Different things sell differently and the people in marketing/dustjacked design know what they are doing. So, I'm sorry, but you'll probably have no input, especially as a first time author.

Julie Worth
08-05-2007, 08:25 PM
I'd go to Lulu and get one printed up. If it's really that good, you might want to use it for submissions.

swvaughn
08-05-2007, 08:31 PM
I'd go to Lulu and get one printed up. If it's really that good, you might want to use it for submissions.

Actually, you really shouldn't send covers in with your submissions... (sorry, Julie :()

As Nevada said, you really won't have input on the covers. If you really, really hate the cover they present you with, you can request to see something else, but in general it's you write the book, they handle the cover.

Neither agents nor editors want to see a cover with a query or submission. It only detracts from the story, and says that you don't know how publishing works.

swvaughn
08-05-2007, 08:33 PM
Hmm... You mean the whole book and the cover? I didn't know you could that. But wouldn't it cost a bundle? :)

You don't want to send in a finished book as a submission. Always follow the submission guidelines -- standard format, loose double-spaced pages with one-inch margins, no extras like artwork or your plans for tie-in merchandise.

If you do this, your submission will stand out, but not in a good way.

rugcat
08-05-2007, 08:36 PM
My first book I had zero input. The cover was hideous. The paperback cover was much better.

My editor on this one actually asked for my input, bless her, and the artist did indeed incorperate something I thought was vital, in his own style. I even emailed photos to show what I was talking about. The cover still needed to conform to their house style, but I couldn't have been happier with the finished product.

MerryDay
08-05-2007, 08:42 PM
Normally all of the above is right. There are some exceptions, for example the YA author Stephenie Meyer designed her own cover for her debut novel, Twilight. Even then though, she didn't get to design the next two in the series. Usually you do have some input, but rarely total control! (But it does happen sometimes!)

Julie Worth
08-05-2007, 08:44 PM
Actually, you really shouldn't send covers in with your submissions... (sorry, Julie :()



I meant putting the cover on a paperback and sending that in with the requested MS. I've yet to do that where the agent didn't email me, saying how convenient it was, reading it on the subway or wherever. And like any ordinary reader, an agent will be influenced by the cover--at least to the point of picking it up and reading a few pages. (I've heard of meetings where editors congregated around the new lineup, holding the finished books for the first time, marveling over the covers.) In any case, I don't say I'm submitting a cover, I say I'm submitting a reading copy with the MS, which they may find useful. Nevertheless, I always put some fetching cover art on it, along with the words "reading copy" so they don't get the wrong idea and think it's been published.

Barbarique--you can get a 400 page book with full color covers for under $13.

nevada
08-05-2007, 08:53 PM
And like any ordinary reader, an agent will be influenced by the cover--at least to the point of picking it up and reading a few pages. .

And like any ordinary reader, if the agent doesnt like the cover, he wont even read the material included. So you've killed your chances before he's even read anything. Follow the format the agent wants. Pages, font, everything. Yes, occassionally someone who breaks the rules will get picked up. But the percentage of that is so small, it really proves the fact that following the agent's rules works better.

Julie Worth
08-05-2007, 09:04 PM
And like any ordinary reader, if the agent doesnt like the cover, he wont even read the material included.


I doubt that will happen, if they also have the MS in standard format. But you're right, you have to know what you're doing artistically, or you haven't helped yourself. Anyway, I'm suggesting this to Barb as a way of submitting a cover surreptitiously.

aruna
08-05-2007, 09:08 PM
For my third novel my editor asked me for suggestions. I suggested a woman in a sari standing in water, with an Indian temple in the background. She loved the idea but whenthe hardback came out it was very different - and nobody liked it.

imagine my surprise, then, when the paperback came out and it looked like this!

So, I would talk to your editor when you get one. Now is not the time.

http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/soasto1.jpg

Will Lavender
08-05-2007, 09:21 PM
I wouldn't even bring it up before the book sells.

But that's just me. I've got a jinx phobia like you would not believe.

job
08-05-2007, 10:20 PM
A lot depends on the publisher.


If you're working with an e-publisher or a small press, your cover preferences are more likely to be heard, though they may not be acted upon.
And you can make your suggestions at any point after you sell the ms.



If you're working with a large print publisher, however, you are dealing with a bureaucracy.
Your editor and the marketing person who makes decisions about the cover may never sit down and talk about cover design, face-to-face, at all. Your editor may have very little input into cover design.

What you can do to make your cover suggestion heard ...

1) ask your agent if it will be possible to negotiate a clause in your contract that calls for author input and, hopefully, approval for the cover blurb, (a good idea anyway,) and author input for the cover.
You may not get either, but see what your agent thinks about trying for them.

2) After the contract is signed, talk to the editor about your ideas for a cover ... recognizing that the editor is likely to defer to marketing on this.

The best time to submit an actual cover concept is probably when you send back your corrected ms.
That's the stage where your editor sends the ms, author bio and photo, synopsis, etc., to Marketing.

The Marketing folks who will decide on your cover cannot do it before this point.
This is the first time they've heard of you.

Ideally, you want your cover concept to arrive along with the rest of the packet your agent zips over to Marketing. It should exist in both hard copy and a computer file. If you have 'photos' of what your characters look like, that can be part of your concept package.


As to sending a bound 'book' as part of the submissions packet ...
(shrug)
you have an agent; take his advice.

Including a bound, self-printed book in the submission
-- look, this is only IMO and I'm respectfully disagreeing with posters above --
but I think it yells 'amateur'.
It's 'kittens on the letterhead' stuff.
This is not how the business works.
If agents and editors wanted bound books included in the submission, they would ask for them.

'Amateur' is not a huge mark against you in a market where there are many fine writers who are, for the moment, novices. But it's not really a mark in your favor.

job
08-05-2007, 10:28 PM
... I suggested a woman in a sari standing in water, with an Indian temple in the background. [/IMG]

That's a lovely cover, Aruna. How wise of you, and
Congratulations.

johnzakour
08-05-2007, 10:33 PM
I get some input on my covers. They send them to me and ask, "what do you think?" Sometimes they listen to what I say, sometimes they don't.

ZannaPerry
08-05-2007, 10:44 PM
For fun I have made my own bookcover just to get a visual of where I'm going. It came out pretty good if I say so myself and I could always put in my input...but who knows what will happen or not. It could give the publishers an idea. :)

For me, though, I just don't want some cheap looking cover for a book I've been working on for a long time. Artwork that does not fit the story......how does that all work?

veinglory
08-05-2007, 10:47 PM
I imagine the influence you can have will depend on how good the idea is and how receptive the publisher is. Once the manuscript has been accepted it can't hurt to send in your ideas IMHO.

ZannaPerry
08-05-2007, 10:52 PM
Now I'm just working on getting a great novel finished and then accepted and THEN I will talk about covers. :D

aruna
08-05-2007, 11:17 PM
That's a lovely cover, Aruna. How wise of you, and
Congratulations.

Yes, I love it! And the nice thing is the embossed parts of the water so it is actually shiny - but just a very little bit. I almost fainted when I saw it!

The only thing "wrong" is that the "temple" is the Taj Mahal, a mosque, and the woman in the story is born Hindu! But I don't think anyone notices or cares.

Elektra
08-05-2007, 11:24 PM
Anyone else really curious to see the OP's cover?

job
08-05-2007, 11:53 PM
The only thing "wrong" is that the "temple" is the Taj Mahal, a mosque, and the woman in the story is born Hindu! But I don't think anyone notices or cares.

(cough)
I noticed that.

You're quite right. Almost nobody will know this, and a Hindi temple would not be recognizable as such to a Western reader, especially in outline.

funidream
08-06-2007, 01:11 AM
I'm a graphic designer, and so is my husband, and as you can imagine when my deal came down the first question out of my mouth was "Can I submit cover concepts?"

My editor, who is a doll, said sure. So we put together some great concepts and sent them off in time for the cover conference, where the designers receive allthe input they need to go away come come up with concepts of their own.

My editor made a point to explain that they pay a lot of talented people to become expert in designing for what the market will respond to. To me that was a nice way of letting me know the art department at Berkley/Penguin will reign supreme when it comes down to designing the cover. I am prepared to accept the fact that few or none of my ideas will be used.

But I am excited to see what the end result will be. This is the cover of a book my editor just put out and I think it is very nice. I would be happy with a cover of this quality:

http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Concubine-Kate-Furnivall/dp/042521558X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-4520615-5788135?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186342698&sr=8-1

funidream
08-06-2007, 02:31 AM
I don't think it makes a difference, at least not at Penguin, or probably any of the big houses. From what I hear, authors get very little input. That might be different at smaller houses.

My book is coming out as a trade paperback.

My agent has also prepared me with the fact that the publisher will not change anything just because you don't like it. You have to have valid reasons for making changes to the approved cover art i.e. in my case, since I write historical fiction, they might make changes if I see any horrible historical innaccuracies.

Their aim is to sell books. And I'm sure that they know better than me in that regard.

NiennaC
08-06-2007, 08:38 AM
When it comes to designing the dust jacket/cover of a novel, how much (or how little) input is the author allowed?

The thing is, I have a very precise concept of what my cover should look like, and my spouse, a graphic artist, has whipped up several beautiful variations on the theme. So my question is: do publishers ever accept such ideas, or is an author pretty much at their mercy when it comes to cover design? I have seen far, far too many uninspired/bland/dull/forgettable/hideous covers, oftentimes on perfectly wonderful books, and I'm determined to avoid that horrible fate. I want my cover to be arresting enough to stop book-store browsers in their tracks.

All you published pros, what's the story?

Thanks! :)

From what I know (and since I haven't reached this part in the process, it's not much, to be sure) I don't think you have much input. HOWEVER, I do know that your encouraged to at least offer up the idea to your agent, so he/she can go to a publisher and say "hey, here's this cover art..." etc.

And about if you don't like your cover art....
I do know that several authors have complained about covers and worked with publisher's to change them. The key is to be professional. Don't tell them you hate it, just point out key points you think should be chagned, and convince them on a marketing level that what you're saying makes sense.

I've got some further reading on the matter, if you'd like it. I found these sites scattered around the 'net.

The "I Hate My Cover Art" Series:

I Hate My Book Cover One (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Two (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-2.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Three (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-3.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Four (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-4.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Five (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-5.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Six (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-6.html)

I Hate My Book Cover Seven (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover-7.html)

Jonathan Lyons Blog Posts on the Matter:

Cover Issues (http://lyonsliterary.blogspot.com/2007/07/cover-issues.html) - The actual post just links the two people I did above, but he answers a question about cover art in the comments on this post, so scroll through them to see it.

A Quote from The Comment by Jonathan Lyons:
Contractually, an author can usually get consultation over the choice of cover art. This means the publisher will discuss you the cover and listen to your concerns, but is not obligated to get your approval.

wayndom
08-06-2007, 08:44 AM
The story is, agents don't want to be bothered with such things, but once a publisher buys your book, they appreciate any input you can offer on covers, selling points, etc.

Just don't mention any of this to your agent until after the book is sold; it will only give her a headache.

wayndom
08-06-2007, 08:50 AM
I should have mentioned, I didn't do any of this with my first published book, to my lasting regret. I thought publishers didn't want to be bothered with this stuff.

But I hated the first cover they came up with, and pointed out why it was awful, and they changed it. The second cover was better, but still not what I thought it should be.

What I didn't realize at the time was that because my novel was somewhat unique, the publisher wasn't sure how to market it. In that situation, they would've jumped at any good ideas I might have offered.

If my current novel does well enough to generate interest in re-publishing my (now out-of-print) first novel, I'll definitely offer my "guidance" on the project.

ClaudiaGray
08-06-2007, 09:46 AM
My publisher doesn't have to give me any real input on the cover, but they have let me look at the drafts. (Not final -- there's still a question as to which character should appear, so we'll have to see.) Ultimately, it's up to them, and I think that you need to trust their judgment as well as yours.

The concept for the Evernight cover is not at all what I would have imagined, but after I got over my initial astonishment, I realized that in many ways the HarperCollins art department had been much more original and daring than I with my feeble writer-brain could ever have been.

Xx|e|ph|e|me|r|al|xX
08-06-2007, 10:40 AM
Xx|As interested in what they might come up with as I would be, I really hope I get input. I have a picture that, based off how long it took me to finish the first face, could easily take me a week or two to finish drawing in photoshop elements. I have a couple ideas for the cover, but more than anything, I just would like them to use that picture in some way. Or I get to draw it, even some other pictures. My characters are unique--that's not bragging, I'm serious. There's no way they'd have "stock photos" that look like them. They're perfectly human (er, vampyre--or should I say, Victus Infractus), but not regular looking. And plus, since it's a vamp story, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave it some spooky vampire cover--you know, with blood and fangs and darkness and whatnot--which would totally not fit the story. XD

I'm going to cross my fingers that I get as much input as possible. >.>;;|xX

amber_grosjean
08-06-2007, 08:58 PM
I'd say get the story published first. Some publishers do ask if you wanted your own design used or if you wanted them to design it. Even then, they might ask for a few key points that you want in the design.

Amira Press does that. When they sent me the contract, they included a few other documents that I had to fill out. One of them was for the cover. I had to describe how I wanted it to look like. I had a certain image that I wanted used so I wrote the description down. The first design they used was exactly that and I really didn't like it. It took them 6 tries to finally get the cover everyone liked. For the cover, the publisher gets the final word so even if you like one they still might turn it down. In the end, I think you will be happy with what ever they design for you.

Everyone here is right though. Don't send the cover design with the submission. Just sit on it until you sign the contract. Then you can ask. The worse they're going to say is no thank you, we have our own. It wouldn't hurt to ask at that point but no sooner.

Amber

Jaws
08-06-2007, 09:14 PM
To answer the initial question:
Unless you're an award-winning cover artist yourself, you don't for commercial publication. And shouldn't.

The longer version depends on a great deal more knowledge about how commercial publishing both does work and should work. Basically, what everyone needs to remember is that the cover is advertising material, not the novel; and, therefore, that the advertising-oriented folk at the publisher will both claim (and, on distressingly few occasions, actually have) greater expertise at determining what works to advertise your novel, and that there are significant production and display issues that almost no author understands in determining how to lay out a cover.

The second issue is much easier to illustrate (pun intended): Very few authors, and very few artists who do not have significant experience doing commercial covers, understand how to limit the palette of colors so that the cover will look relatively natural under both typical fluorescent lights (in the stores) and under incandescent and natural light (in the reader's hands). Then, too, there's the production issue, because color registration is critical when one is rolling thousands of copies of the cover through a four-color press, and some colors that work well next to each other in oil paints don't do so well when the inks misregister by even 0.1mm at the printer. And those are just the easy issues, related to colors; line width, vertical balancing, relation to type, including logos... the list goes on.

That said, telling the publisher what would misrepresent the book is a good idea; suggesting three or four passages in the book that would accurately represent its contents is a good idea; providing general notes on character appearances, and background appearances (e.g., "Remember, this novel is set in Classical times, so ruins in the background shouldn't look like the Tower of London!") is a good idea; but beyond that, it's really the publisher's decision.

Chumplet
08-06-2007, 10:36 PM
The supplements to my contract had a section where I could suggest covers, and I mentioned that I was an artist. The cover artist contacted me and we worked together to create the cover. I was given shared credit for the cover design.

She knew more about image copyright, so she chose a suitable background for my photoshopped image I had created. It worked out pretty nice!

http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w218/Chumplet/TheSpaceBetweencover.jpg

Jack_Roberts
08-06-2007, 11:54 PM
Yeah, I read this, too.

Sucks cuase I have a great idea, but what can you do?

maestrowork
08-07-2007, 03:24 AM
It doesn't hurt to relate your ideas to the publisher, but the final decision is theirs, and they may or may not take your ideas into consideration. Like someone said, most publishers have their own marketing people and designers. Obviously, if an idea actually makes sense and is good for marketing, they will consider it. But don't hold your breath -- chances are many authors don't know enough about book covers (as a marketing tool), and publishers would rather depend on their experts.

I was lucky enough to be able to influence my own book cover (see sig).

Julie Worth
08-07-2007, 05:13 AM
In terms of all this, is there any difference between hardcover and paperback? :)

With a hardback you can print out your own dustcovers at home and try a variety of looks. There was an article in the NY Times a couple of months ago where a guy was carrying around a diet book with a hot pink cover--not something he wanted to be seen reading--so he scanned it in, replaced the pink background with blue, and printed out a more manly cover.

Lesson: don't pick a cover that will embarrass half the potential readers.

wee
08-07-2007, 08:11 AM
The second issue is much easier to illustrate (pun intended): Very few authors, and very few artists who do not have significant experience doing commercial covers, understand how to limit the palette of colors so that the cover will look relatively natural under both typical fluorescent lights (in the stores) and under incandescent and natural light (in the reader's hands). Then, too, there's the production issue, because color registration is critical when one is rolling thousands of copies of the cover through a four-color press, and some colors that work well next to each other in oil paints don't do so well when the inks misregister by even 0.1mm at the printer. And those are just the easy issues, related to colors; line width, vertical balancing, relation to type, including logos... the list goes on.



I really appreciated this comment. My experience with printing is limited, but I have set up printing for a small company before & have dealt with it a little bit with technical writing. I was astonished at how complicated it is just to make printing decisions for a small company's printing needs -- all the different things that had to be taken into consideration. From cost, to what colors could not be reliably reproduced, and on & on. It makes my head hurt just to think about how many hours I spent researching paper, ink, & printing.

These types of problems (I'm guessing) are why a publisher might have a certain in-house 'style' -- they know what has worked & they don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Though I am by nature a creative person, and love designing as much as I do putting words on paper (I was the person in college who couldn't just turn in a long paper stapled together -- I had to have it formatted all out, professionally bound & create my own cover & title page!), when it comes to selling books ... I would have to either be appalled by the cover or feel it truly misrepresented my book to say anything --> because my job isn't selling those books, just trying to write them.

In that publishing house is a TEAM of people who do nothing else ALL DAY LONG but think about how to draw attention to books & sell them, & who have made it their life's work to know every little detail about printing, too. Why pretend to know more than them? Spend that time producing another book for them to work on instead!


jmho -

Elektra
08-07-2007, 09:01 AM
Lesson: don't pick a cover that will embarrass half the potential readers.

I agree. All pink-covered chick-lit should come with an alternate dust jacket, with titles like War and Peace.

Chumplet
08-07-2007, 09:49 AM
Sort of like those dorky HP covers that adults wouldn't be caught dead carrying around, so the publisher made up some cool grown-up covers, too.

aruna
08-07-2007, 10:10 AM
Sagacious counsel.

Why does pink make guys feel all squirmy?? :)

Not just guys. I loathe pink as well. One of my publishers chose a pink cover for a book and I hated it.

Chumplet
08-13-2007, 05:48 AM
My friend's book, The Bonds of Matri-Money, was released by Avalon a few months ago. The cover is pink, with handcuffs arranged like a heart. I'm not a big fan of pink myself, but that cover worked nicely.

CheshireCat
08-13-2007, 07:23 AM
First, wait until the manuscript sells. (On its own, no cover design or concept, and I really wouldn't include a bound reading copy, with or without cover, unless you're asked for one; every agent and editor I know hates those.)

Once you have a signed contract, and the final manuscript has been accepted and is in production, ask your agent to find out when the pub does their cover design meetings. This is not necessarily going to be as often as you might think; I know one major publisher where the meetings are only every three months. (This is the meeting where editors meet with both the art department and marketing, and everybody gets to offer input from their perspective.)

If you haven't been asked for input by the time the meeting looms (and even first time authors are often asked what they "had in mind" for the cover in terms of concept), a couple of weeks before, politely ask your editor (or have your agent ask), if you can send in one or more cover ideas for their consideration.

Yeah, it's a lot like selling your manuscript again.

If they say no, think really, really hard before you decide to fight that battle. Some pubs are adamantly convinced that authors should write the books and art and marketing departments should design covers. If your pub has that mindset (your agent should be able to find out for you), then fighting them is likely to do nothing except earn you a reputation for being difficult.

Most of the publishers I've worked with have been at least open (at the editorial level) to hear/see what the author had in mind. There may be a hundred reasons why your ideas won't work. You may blow them away with your ideas. You and they may both discover that your ideas for what your book should look like are incredibly different -- and how strongly you feel about that also determines how far you're willing to go in fighting for the look you feel best represents your work.

I have always fought for my cover ideas. In the early years, there wasn't much I could do, because in genres like romance, you're gonna get a clinch cover (hoping desperately for no heaving bosoms or naked loins or, you know, extra limbs), and in murder mysteries there's probably going to be a weapon of some kind, and in SF and/or fantasy, there's probably a spaceship, or alien planet, or spacebabe dressed in an improbable outfit or an overly-muscled hero with a sword, and in westerns there's going to be a bleak, barren landscape and a man on a horse -- usually.

Still, even in genre you can have some wiggle room, usually. And if you're consistently polite and professional (and firm), you don't get the bad rep of being difficult, but instead get the rep of an author who cares about his or her work, pays attention to the market, and has good ideas that aid the publishing process.

All that said, remember that you may get zero input, and if you do, that is a reality you're going to have to live with.

By the way, I find it helpful to visit a bookstore or just the books section of my local grocery store or pharmacy and just spend a few minutes scanning the covers to see what's there. What catches my eye. What makes me wince. What practically shouts at me to pull it off the shelf.

I'm often surprised by the results.