View Full Version : work-for-hire book cover question

04-19-2008, 08:30 PM
So, you guys all know that I've seen the cover for The Right Words for Any Occasion. (Still haven't heard from ed if I can post pict.) Anyway, while I'm psyched that the project's real enough now to have a cover, I'm not entirely thrilled with the cover. A while back, when I'd seen a working draft of it, I mentioned an idea to my ed, which she forward to the art dir, only to never receive a reply. Then, here we are moments from sending it off to the printer, and I see the cover, which looks more like the cover for an inspirational book rather than a writing resource. (My suggestion asked for a writing utensil to be on the cover along the lines of a typewriter or laptop or a pen and paper even.)
Now, I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers, but I think I'm right in saying that for most people, the cover is still a big draw.

Do I even have any say in the matter, since it's a W-F-H? And if so, is it even worth it to try and get it changed and/or have my agent lean on them a bit? I'm pretty sure that it hasn't gone off to the printer yet. (It's almost as if the sales dept & art dept are disconnected from the content of the book. The sales dept. even nixed the foreword for various reasons that make no sense whatsoever.) Of course, either way, I have to wait until Monday to have anything done, if anything can even be done.

TIA to anyone w/advice.

Elliot Cowan
04-20-2008, 12:32 AM
It's almost as if the sales dept & art dept are disconnected from the content of the book

This comment is unfortunately very true.
It is not their job to sell what the book is about, it's to sell what they think people want it to be about.
You may know of the film maker David Fincher?
He made the films Seven, Panic Room and last years Zodiac.
I heard him discussing film posters in an interview.
He felt that the studio marketing departments felt that every movie the studio made was a complete load of shit and that it was their job to save the film.
So, for example if the film was a gentle story about a new romance they would think "Well nobody wants to see this crap, but they do want to see sex and tits so let's put that on the poster".

You are experiencing something related to this (and I'm not suggesting that your book is crap, by any means).
Unfortunately you probably don't have a lot of say in the matter, especially if you haven't written a billion dollar best seller yet, but if you've not mentioned it to your agent I'm sure that would be acceptable.

04-20-2008, 02:14 AM
I'm going to start this reply by admitting, "I am an idiot."

When I first saw my cover, I wasn't thrilled. Then, I asked my agent, friends and others what they thought. To a person, they said, "What a great cover!" (I did the same stupid thing with my title - AWers may remember how they set me straight and for that, I am forever grateful.) Now, of course, I love both the cover and title. So, what I would first advise is, ask for other opinions, especially your agent. (I don't know if this is true for you, but I think sometimes, as authors, we've been living with the book the longest - from even before we've put anything down on paper - so we get certain ideas in our heads about how things, including titles and covers, "should" be, even if we're not even fully aware of what, exactly, we're imagining; it just feels wrong, even though it isn't necessarily.)

If you still want it changed, here's a link (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-my-book-cover.html) to a fabulous post on exactly this topic from author consultant extraordinaire, Bella Stander. You'll note in her post that she links to another post on this topic by agent Kristen Nelson.

04-20-2008, 02:40 AM
Yes, most of the time the writer (unless one has Clout) has no influence on the cover, WFH or not, non-fiction or fiction.

I've done two WFHs, had no say in the cover, but understood that from the start. The art, happily, was pretty darn good.

The pub. reprinted one book and put on the most gosh awful cover you can imagine. My deadly handsome, e-vul-ly suave hero morphed into a warty, dumb-as-a-brick monster with serious wardrobe malfunctions going on.

I was told we were seeing on the outside what he's like on the inside.

S____ that, they had art left over from another project and slapped it on so they wouldn't have to pay for a new piece.

However, sales have been good, and I still get fan mail, so I've managed to suck it up.

Here's an interesting video (http://www.better.tv/bettertv/?cid=507869917&lid=435027957&tid=1493152359) on how one house does covers.

They're not all like that, but it's pretty cool.

04-20-2008, 03:46 AM
As Gillhoughly says, unless you have CLOUT there's nothing you can do about the cover art or the interior art or the selection of the illustrator or the type of illustration used. That's all a publisher's province, and they tell us so right up front. And yes, overall they really do a good job. I am not one to praise publishers but lets remember that they usually know a hell of a lot me about this stuff than we do. And lets be fair, they know better than we do that a covers design is one of the major factors to attract potential buyers to pick up the book in a bookstore and flip through the pages - hopefully leading to a sale. So on this issue I really think we have to cut them some slack.

By the way, none of the above precludes a writer from ASKING if s/he can have some input re artwork. But ask nicely!

04-20-2008, 08:39 AM
Thanks everyone for your input, advice and links!

Scope...I did ask nicely...my ed thought that the idea was a good one and even cc'd me on the e-mail she sent to the art dept. Actually, she said I'd asked "too nicely" and firmed it up a bit. LOL.

I'll give my agent a buzz and see if there's anything he can do, assuming that the book hasn't really been shipped off to the printer already.

The funny thing is, the cover for my other book with this pub was great...I guess that's part of my shock about this cover. It's not bad per se, I'm just not feeling it...but all of the points you all made about that make a lot of sense.

Thanks again!