Discussion in 'Publishing' started by kitsune_boy389, Nov 10, 2006.
Do authors get to choose what their covers for their books look like?
Very, very rarely. You have more chance if you are published with a small imprint.
It depends. If you are with a publishing house then they have a large say on what the covers look like. I self-publish my work so I can choose my illustrator/artist and help him/her design it how I like it.
I was on a panel with a guy from one of the major publishers recently, and he did say that they try to work with the author on cover design but naturally the final decision rests with the publisher. Covers do sell books and that's a fact, despite the "can't judge a book by its cover" thang. As publisher myself with Elastic Press I have it as part of the contract that the author and publisher will agree on the cover prior to going to print. Haven't had any disagreements so far!
I consider myself very fortunate that Simon & Schuster listened to me with regards to artwork. I got the artist I wanted and (for the most part) the designs I wanted. Though the art director did tweak a few of my ideas, her instinct was spot on - I have the greatest respect for her knowledge and expertise.
It's funny, but a cover hasn't sold me on a book in quite a while. I'm attracted by interesting-sounding titles (the first thing you see on a shelf so crowded with books that you need a shoehorn to pull one out). The back description, inside excerpt and a few pages of writing style make the sale.
SF and fantasy covers all look alike to me now... far too much of the same ol' stuff.
One nice thing about self-publishing: You have ultimate control on covers. Personally, it doesn't hurt to be an artist, too...
I guess it depends whether the book is face up on a table, or if you're just reading a spine on a shelf. I agree that titles are very important - in my own fiction I can't write a story if I don't have a title - but I've noticed since we got Elastic Press books into stores that those which sell the most are those with more obviously specific genre covers. Perhaps, looking at it from another angle, it's a bad cover that might lose a sale. This is taking well-known authors out of the equation of course.
Most of the SF books I see are crammed into a shelf... the books on the tables tend to be by Tom Clancy and Dr. Phil.
My books tend to come before the titles, though a title usually comes forth somewhere in the middle of writing the story.
Any opinion on covers that are just really nice art? As opposed to a Star Wars-ish cover done in colored pencils by a hack? (I create my own covers in Photoshop.)
Although a cover wouldn't make me buy/not buy a book, it would draw my attention and make me read the title/blurb/etc if it was interesting. Even on shelves, at least in the shops round here, they put some books face out, if they're trying to promote them .
As for covers with great art, well I suppose it depends what you call art, but the hardback versions of Bakker's trilogy are possibly the most beautiful books I've read - the dust jacket covers, colour-coordinated paper-backed spines, Overlook Press imprints on the covers and the caligraphy that extends into the pages themselves really add to the experience. Much the same as Strange & Norrel, but better.
I think a crappy/cheesy cover for a book is a shame, though I do own a few that have them (PB Fall of Hyperion, some old-style Stephen King PBs etc).
(I'm a newbie to the forum, so forgive me butting in. I've been lurking for over a month and finally signed up.)
Ideally you want the publisher to spend as much time on the spine as the cover, because the spine is the bit most people will see first.
Unfortunately, as someone else said, shelves are crammed with a colourful confusion of books, and standing out is all but impossible.
Some off-the-wall suggestions publishers might consider in future:
Graft OLED displays onto the spine and program them to flash 'Buy Me Now' in nine different colours.
Books 5 inches thick, giving them a spine the size of the average cover.
A retail tax on books by all new authors, making their novels twice the price of the latest blockbusters. That would have the effect of clearing 90% of the
cruft from the shelves, leaving more room for the Kings and Rowlings of this world.
Coat the cover and back of the book with a special paper-eating chemical, so the titles on either side crumble to dust within a week. Naturally, books with polymer pages would be immune.
Not so with SF around here... at Borders and Barnes & Noble (about the only place to find SF in these parts, as the small stores are all about gone), the books are squeezed into shelves, no covers visible. Makes it hard to find something interesting by a quick visual scan. I have an easier time seeing covers online than in stores these days.
I should add to this: The other day I was at the bookstore, and I have noticed a tendency with SF books to place smaller versions of the cover illustrations on the ever-widening spine (maybe that's why books are becoming 500-600 pages in length!).
So I don't need a shoehorn to see the covers... but now I need a magnifying glass...
My publisher did that with my second novel, then reverted to a different design for book three. Then they reprinted the first book with a completely new cover.
I think it's a cunning ploy to keep readers and booksellers on their toes. It's certainly keeping their cover designer busy.
Well that explains a lot of the "series" authors and Rowling's ever expanding tomes.
Now that is a good suggestion.
You should get together with Max Barry and write a book about it. He seems to get some say on his covers and they are pretty cool.
Heaven forbid that a reader try to handle the book without gloves on. It sounds highly toxic. Much like many of the books on the shelves today.
I was just thinking about the growing trend for growing books (particularly SFF, where some books are 600 odd pages or whatnot). There has to come a point where they use up less space on the shelf by putting the books face-out. Course, it depends how deep their shelves are, but if it's a thick book then maybe they could get four on their deep shelves face out, in the same space (length-wise) they could get two or three spine-out. And so get more different books on their shelves in total. Meh.
My publisher just reprinted book one in the Hal Spacejock series, and they reset it so that instead of 393 pages it's 340. Same text, just slightly closer to the edges. The first edition was quite a brick and I like this one a lot better, and perhaps stores will put copies on their shelves ;-)
Store owners are onto this already. I used to work in a bookshop that was pressed for space and we used to do this to make extra shelf space.
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