Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Writers & Cover Art

What Writers Say to Their Editors About Their Cover Art, and What They Really Mean

1. "All I can say is, Wow!"

Only because I'm not going to say oh shit, Jesus Christ, or I'm fucked to an editor.

2. "Did the cover artist read my manuscript before painting this?"

'Cause I don't remember having my H/H performing swap oral sex on a giraffe in my story.

3. "How do you like it?"

Yes, please, let me know if you're as big a moron as I now think you are.

4. "I have never seen anything like it."

But then, I'm not a crack house interior wall inspector.

5. "Nothing could have prepared me for this."

Unless the Spanish Inquisition comes back and decides I'm a heretic.

6. "Production did a terrific job."

Production hates me this much?

7. "There simply aren't words to describe how this cover makes me feel."

Oh yes there are.

8. "This will sell ten thousand copies."

If there's a flood that destroys all the stores' stock and the lighting over their remainder tables burns out, maybe.

9. "What an interesting cover model."

I asked for Josh Holloway and you gave me George Hamilton?

10. "Your artist has captured the spirit of my story."

Your artist is color blind, psychotic and should never walk in front of a car I'm driving.

18 comments:

  1. #1 is exactly what I said to my publisher last week. Only thing is, I meant it ;-)
    As soon as I have the final image I'm changing my blogger icon.

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  2. I need things like this. It helps me learn to "break the code." Along with "opportunity to excel" (I get a lot of those -- it means "Nobody else will do this even under threat of court martial, and you're sooooo fucked.") and "Bless his little heart." (Which I think all but the newest Yankee to slip below the Mason-Dixon line has come to understand means, "What a #$%ing moron!"), these phrases are an important part of a writer's education. (Substitution code included in that last, because, as you know (Bob), that phrase is used liberally by all True Southern Ladies, so I didn't want to offend any of them.)

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  3. Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

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  4. #10 is my favorite.

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  5. With all the places to see cover snark this should be on a poster so we can rate the covers by what the author probably said when they saw it.

    Very funny...

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  6. I'm worried. I've only got one piece of cover art so far, but I loved it and said most of those things and MEANT them. When the proof arrived, I rushed out and had it framed the same day. I've even added the artist's name to my acknowlegements. Have I contravened one of the Unwritten Laws of the Universe? Does this mean the world is about to disappear in a puff of smoke?

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  7. So far (knock on wood) I have been truly thrilled with my cover art. I think they're gorgeous. But, with VALLEY OF THE SOUL, the publisher wanted a new look, one more fantasy-esque. While the cover painting was still gorgeous, what they did with the title SUCKED. And not in a good way. Was frilly and frothy cutesy fluff. I do NOT write cutesy fluff and was utterly appalled.

    After spending a good hour upset and wondering what the heck I should do, I called my editor. I tried to discuss the matter calmly, but did not mince words.

    They changed it and, again, I have a gorgeous cover.

    Lynn, have you ever had luck getting cover art changed?

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  8. Truly hideous covers can get you space in snarky blogs and you can show how Professional you are with your public comments.

    I'm thinking of the people floating in the blue ooze cover a couple years back. Dang, wish I could remember the author!

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  9. LMAO! Reminds me of advice a friend gave me to use when encountering, uh, less than cute babies. "Just say, 'Awww, how precious!'"

    Now, every time someone says something of mine is precious, I freak out.

    I'd better not have precious covers...

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  10. #1 really had me in stitches because I've said that several times when faced with a cover... some I've meant literally, and some I've meant in the 'can't say I'm fucked' to an editor way. I'm grateful that lately I've really meant it.

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  11. Are you saying that I shouldn't have told my editor exactly what I thought? Oops.

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  12. I'm with Larissa...Gawd please don't make me pull a #7

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  13. Simon wrote: As soon as I have the final image I'm changing my blogger icon.

    I really like the way your publisher is designing your covers, Simon. The HS header and the artwork are terrific.

    Jean wrote: ...these phrases are an important part of a writer's education.

    Someday I'm going to write a book about it. Maybe call it Diplomacy of Writers, lol.

    Rebecca wrote: Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

    Except maybe a teenage Latina who comes home two hours after curfew. :)

    S. William wrote: #10 is my favorite.

    Cover artists probably think the same thing about us crazy writers. :)

    Rosie wrote: With all the places to see cover snark this should be on a poster so we can rate the covers by what the author probably said when they saw it.

    I'd love to put up one remark a writer friend of mine made to an editor about certain cover art compared to mine, but it was related in confidence so I have to keep that one to myself. :)

    Bernita wrote: # 7 ~smiles~

    I can see you saying (and thinking) that one.

    Zolah wrote: When the proof arrived, I rushed out and had it framed the same day.

    I did that with my first one, too (and my sister-in-law had it printed on T-shirts and mugs for me.)

    I've even added the artist's name to my acknowlegements. Have I contravened one of the Unwritten Laws of the Universe? Does this mean the world is about to disappear in a puff of smoke?

    Nope. We just get to hate you a little bit. ;) Seriously, it's a gorgeous cover and you showed your appreciation -- something we should all remember to do when the art is *that* magical.

    Tam wrote: After spending a good hour upset and wondering what the heck I should do, I called my editor. I tried to discuss the matter calmly, but did not mince words.

    They changed it and, again, I have a gorgeous cover.


    Lucky lady. Sticking up for yourself, also a great thing -- it's your name on the cover, not the artist's. Good for you.

    Lynn, have you ever had luck getting cover art changed?

    I've had little things changed now and then, but mostly I don't fuss. I've asked for one cover to be scraped entirely and was told no and had to live with it.

    I did manage to stop a disaster of a cover concept before it was painted. The artist assigned to do Blade Dancer originally depicted Jory as a bald woman in a pretty, flowing Lord of the Rings outfit. I saw the sketches, survived the heart attack and immediately asked (begged) for changes. And got them.

    Kate wrote: Truly hideous covers can get you space in snarky blogs and you can show how Professional you are with your public comments.

    And then we can burn in hell for all the lies we've told. :)

    I'm thinking of the people floating in the blue ooze cover a couple years back. Dang, wish I could remember the author!

    Hmmmm. I've got killer reptilian slavers floating in tubes of blue ooze on my next StarDoc, but no people.

    Larissa wrote: I'd better not have precious covers...

    Unless applied to polished gems, "precious" is almost always an insult in the south. The word always reminds me of those tacky big-eyed kiddy statuettes that were so popular in the eighties...Precious Moments?

    Miss Write wrote: I'm grateful that lately I've really meant it.

    And lucky, too. Industry-wide, I think the quality of cover art has been steadily declining.

    Michelle wrote: Are you saying that I shouldn't have told my editor exactly what I thought? Oops.

    To be serious again for a minute, if you've got a great relationship with your editor, you can probably say anything and not be penalized for it. I was honest with one editor once about some truly awful cover art ideas for some of my books. They were juvenile, cartoony, inappropriate chick-lit-type stuff, so I told her that and promptly offended her. Come to find out that she had picked out everything she personally liked before showing it to me. In reality she didn't want my opinion, she only wanted me to validate hers. If only she had said, "This is everything I love" before showing it to me, I still would have been honest, but I'd have tried to be much more diplomatic in how I worded my reaction. No one likes being told their taste in art stinks.

    Amie wrote: I'm with Larissa...Gawd please don't make me pull a #7

    One rule of thumb: if you hate your cover art, wait 24 hours (if possible) before you talk to your editor about it. Then just try to remember that no matter how much the art makes you want to puke, someone put some effort into creating it, and be respectful of that effort.

    Tech wrote: :) Funny!

    Only because I'm being serious. Lol.

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  14. oh come on... lol... you CAN say wow and really mean it.

    my jaw dropped with a couple of my covers, and all in a good way.

    there's only been a few of mine that I've really needed to use discretion when i saw it the first time.

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  15. Glad you like the covers, PBW. And here's book three in all its glory:

    Hal 3 cover

    Nice work, Dion!

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  16. I'm so anal about my book covers that it took me a long time to submit to an epublisher. They'd do these covers using computerized models, and I'll go, "Is that Barbie and Ken nekked?"

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