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View Full Version : Would a 'real publisher' let an author design their own cover?



musicblind
08-14-2018, 04:57 AM
I have a graphic design business. I have created posters for film, theater, nightlife events, restaurants, and even a few book covers here and there.

My first three books were published by a very small indie publishing company. They did not want me to make my own cover. I had to fight for it, beg, and send them a portfolio of my past work before they finally gave in.

I was later told by a friend that the publishing company must not have been 'real' or had any sense because no publishing company would let an author design their own cover, even if they owned a graphic design company and had experience designing covers.

So, my question, for those of you who deal with the BIG publishing houses, the real ones who are far bigger than the one that published my LGBT novels, would any of those publishing houses let an author design a cover if they owned a graphic design company and had extensive experience?

PS. I'm sorry if this question had been asked. I did a quick search, but I may have missed a thread. If it has been asked, please accept my apologies!

Pss. I'm not bashing my previous publisher for saying they were little. My book was already a niche book and they took a risk on me. For that I am grateful. I was actually very sad that they went under a few years later because their goals were very worthy. We need more publishers willing to take risks on unusual books.

lizmonster
08-14-2018, 05:10 AM
So, my question, for those of you who deal with the BIG publishing houses, the real ones who are far bigger than the one that published my LGBT novels, would any of those publishing houses let an author design a cover if they owned a graphic design company and had extensive experience?

I think the odds are EXTREMELY low. You could try to have a clause put into the contract, but IME big publishers are pretty possessive of the packaging. (In general this will work in your favor.) They want the author to be happy, but typically they get the final say.

Nothing to stop you talking to your editor when the time comes, to see if they'd at least consider your work, but I'd be a little surprised to see a major player cede that much control.

musicblind
08-14-2018, 07:16 AM
Thank you for the honest answer, even if it wasn't on I wanted to hear!

Truthfully, I have a zero percent chance of getting published by one of the big timers. That kind of stuff doesn't happen to people like me. However, your answer did resolve a friendly dispute and a question I've wondered for some time.

So thank you!

cool pop
08-15-2018, 12:49 AM
No, a publisher would never allow that. They might ask for input and take what you say into consideration but they won't let you design it. Some of the smaller presses will let you pick out the stock photos to use and they buy them. They usually provide a questionnaire asking you to describe characters, etc and the designer goes by those. It depends on the smaller press. I published with some well known romance pubs and I gave input and sometimes stock photo suggestions to each one.

The big houses, they might allow your input and might not but no way will they let you design the cover. I was with Simon and Schuster years ago. They asked my input for covers and I was pleased they followed my vision. If you wanna design your own covers then go indie. I'm indie now. :) I design my own covers and love doing it.

Also, why do you say "that kind of stuff doesn't happen to people like me"? I'm probably one of the biggest underdogs around and it happened to me. Don't defeat yourself by not believing in yourself. There is no special criteria to getting a publishing contract except that you work hard and have some talent. Sure, it might not happen but that doesn't mean it won't.

Jason
08-15-2018, 01:02 AM
...There is no special criteria to getting a publishing contract except that you work hard and have some talent. Sure, it might not happen but that doesn't mean it won't.

Well, I have all but two of those conditions going for me :)

Joking aside, I agree - succeeding in anything is little more than nose to the grindstone and eventually getting recognized for it. (assuming of course that you are defining success as getting picked up by a major publisher).

Back to the OT - unless you moonlight as a graphic designer for a firm that your publisher uses and it happens to fall in your lap coincidentally, the odds are very likely close to nil. (Call me crazy, but that sounds like it might be the makings of a funny story in and of itself)

Jennie
08-26-2018, 02:37 AM
:hi:
It is highly unlikely that a publisher would let you design your cover. The cover is one of the publisher's prerogatives. You can ask to have it submitted to you for approval (and even that is not always accepted). Some publishers may accept that you provide the artwork or an illustration, but this depends on the kind of book. Generally, books are part of series, collections within a publishing company, and the design is specific to this series.

Treehouseman
11-19-2018, 08:51 AM
Probably jumping in to an old thread, but there are two occasions where the (big) publisher will allow it:

1) It is a photo cover on a non-fiction book. Sometimes they will ask the author to provide a selection of images that will become the cover image (that is, if they have permission to use the images, such as a historical work.)

2) The title was printed before, and now the cover has become iconic. (The most obvious example being 50 Shades of Grey, which was first printed by a small press.)

Elenitsa
11-19-2018, 10:59 AM
My publisher accepts me providing some images as cover proposals, but they choose which of them they will use and how the actual cover will look.

veinglory
11-19-2018, 07:45 PM
A book cover is a large part of what sells a book, you can be a great designer and still know very little about cover design. So unless you happen to be a skilled cover designer for that genre--they should not want you making that cover. It's going to cost sales.

EMaree
11-19-2018, 09:39 PM
I know self-publishing and small press publishing has been mentioned as a way to create an 'iconic' cover that carries over. But here's another way that hasn't been mentioned: you can have a book take off as a podcast with an iconic cover and keep the image.

See:Alice Isn't Dead (http://www.nightvalepresents.com/aliceisntdead/#book-tour), whose very memorable podcast covers was directly adapted for the book, and kinda-sort Welcome to Nightvale where the first book clearly references the podcast avatar but is a big change (http://www.welcometonightvale.com/books/).

Nightvale and Alice Isn't Dead both have huge fanbases and a lot more power than your average Joe, though.


Truthfully, I have a zero percent chance of getting published by one of the big timers.

I'd be willing to bet you're far more capable of getting a Big 5 deal than you ever give yourself credit for. It's okay to aim big. :) You'll be in good company here!