26 August 2008

It's a Wrap

You know you don't get to choose your covers right? Writing a book is like birthing a baby and then having someone else dress them. All this work and you don't get to pick what they wear? How is that fair? Well, it's not about being fair, it's about expertise. Just because you can write doesn't you know a thing about what looks good on a book shelf. The point of the book cover is to move units. Sure, some are artistic and truly works of art, but the book still needs to put its best foot forward to sell and a great cover can do that for you.

For my first book, since it was part of a series, the options seemed limited. We got to suggest a few ideas of what might make a good cover but basically the publisher showed me some samples, asked for some feedback, and then created a cover that was totally new to my eyes. At first, I was like "an Eskimo in the snow with a laptop? I don't get it." But then as I came to terms with the surprise, I realized that it really was an eye catching cover and so much better than having some sort of computer screen themed cover.

An Eskimo sitting around with a laptop never looked so good -- and no, it's not me on the cover.

Just for kicks, here's a few (early) mocks of cover ideas. The one that scared me the most was the one with hunks in Speedos standing around bullhorns but those were quickly jettisoned, thank god. I mean, a cover with copious amounts of pink would be fine, but Speedos and bullhorns? I'd never live it down. Check the link to some of those original cover ideas and as you'll see, they're all pretty much themed around the idea of a blog being used as a way to broadcast your ideas. Take a gander.

This time around, with the fiction book, my publisher pretty much just chose a cover and I didn't see any mock ups. I did get a chance to talk about my preferences of course. I told them I loved matte finish, I liked illustrated covers, I liked minimalistic designs. They listened politely and then came at me with a cover that is none of these things. But it is distinctive and will jump off the shelf. With book covers, just trust the people who are kind enough to let you write the insides, and let them do their design marketing things.

Someone told me a horror story about this author who didn't want his cover touched before publication. This was a cover he designed himself. It was garish, with no style, four different fonts, and just an ugly ugly mess. Yet he had the gall to insist that his cover was the best one for his work. Trust the professionals until proven wrong man.