Competing for Covers

The cover of Platinum. So much pretty.

(Just in case you missed the cover reveal on Sullivan’s blog over the weekend.)

Covers are a funny thing. They are often the faces of our books – the first impression and lasting image. From the marketing end, the cover is the keystone of all publicity. After all, there’s not that many other visual images to tie to a story, except maybe the author head shot. (And for a lot of us, no one wants to go there. 😉 ) For the readers, covers add to the book’s caché. I know readers who collect bookmarks or cover flats of digital books, just to have the cover to look at.

If you’re a writer working with a publisher, what the cover will be is pretty much out of your hands. Oh, we get input–Carina and Ellora’s Cave have us fill out art fact sheets describing the book, characters, mood, tone, genre and visual hooks. And the marketing teams show the draft cover to us and we can give feedback. They smile, nod and give us the cover they want to.

If you self-publish, the writer becomes her own marketing team. Even if she hires a cover designer, she still has to communicate her concept, what the models should look like, the fonts and colors. It can be grueling, as I recently watched my friend and CP, Carolyn Crane, go through. She wanted the cover for her new book, Mr. Real, to be exactly right and wonderful, going through many iterations to get there.

(I know this because I think I looked at EVERY ONE.)

At any rate, she finally decided on a cover that she loved. Everyone was joyful. Until she found out that another author had received a nearly identical cover from her press – and the book is in the same genre and releasing on the same day. You can read Carolyn’s truly hilarious take on the fiasco here.

What strikes me most about this whole adventure though, is how lovely everyone was about it – especially the other author. We hear a lot of tales about author jealousy, infighting, plagiarizing, attack-sockpuppeting and various other kinds of unpleasantness. People love to pass around those stories. I knew this guy once who loved to complain about how women compete with each other in jealous and mean ways. He’d say “if two guys show up to a party wearing the same clothes, they’ll be friends for life – if two women wear the same dress, they’ll be at each other’s throats.”

Yeah. He was an ass.

But whenever he’d say that, I’d remember something that happened to my mom. The first time she ever volunteered to help organize a charity event, it was the inaugural fundraising ball put on by the American Cancer Society in Denver. She killed herself helping to plan this ball. Tons of work. And she stressed about what to wear. We shopped in EVERY store in Denver for the perfect dress. She visited me in college in St. Louis and we shopped there. We visited my aunt in Chicago and shopped there, too. This was over the course of nearly a year. Finally she found the perfect dress (I think in Chicago) and all was right with the world.

She arrives at the ball early, along with the rest of the committee, to finish setting up and in walks her good friend and another committee member wearing the exact same dress. That she’d bought at an exclusive boutique. Myrtle Rose, my mom’s friend, broke out laughing – I mean, what were the odds? – and said she’d go home and change. My mom protested and MR said, no, she’d been torn between two black dresses and all her make-up and jewelry would stay the same – she’d just shuck on the other dress and be right back.

It was done with the same spirit of friendship and generosity as Carolyn showed – and as the other author, Julianna Stone, showed her. After all, Carolyn was out money and the time she’d already invested in showing off the cover. It was well done of her.

I love a happy ending.

Oh, and speaking of – If you’d like win a 3-chapter, synopsis and query critique from me, you can do it here!

3 Replies to “Competing for Covers”

  1. Oh, thanks! How lovely of you to post this. And, btw, your cover, as you know, I think it is SO gorgeous! It is dreamy!!!

  2. Pingback: Jeffe Kennedy

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