First Cup of Coffee – June 21, 2022

How traditional publishing handles covers, the importance of the first book in a series, and how trad sometimes punts (or fumbles) on that second cover. Also thoughts on my new reading catnip.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Ah, today is Tuesday June Twenty first and summer Solstice Longest day of the year we’ve actually already pivoted happened at 3 thirteen this morning my time and it’s a good thing. We don’t observe things by the solar calendar here you ever wonder how they managed to pull it off and like the united kingdom right? Um, it’s cloudy here today. Very overcast. We’re supposed to get more rain which is incredibly welcome. So rain rain rain!

And the garden is looking lovely makes me happy I have a ah guy coming by at any time now supposed to stop in between this certain window. To give me an estimate on hauling away a whole bunch of our brush remember I posted those pictures of like our all the tumbleweeds because our monsoons were so robust last year and we had so much growth and then such terrible winds this spring and we’ve got this brush just piled up everywhere. So he’s going to come by and give me an estimate on hauling it off also exciting. Um, and it’s musing because his name is hay-SOOS which is a very common hispanic name especially in this region but it is spelled like Jesus. And so I’ve had it on my calendar and it’s somewhat disconcerting to have Jesus on your calendar I almost um, tweeted about it I had a very pithy tweet about having Jesus on my calendar and then I thought should I? But is that a good idea and my policy is is if it occurs to me that tweeting or Facebooking something may not be a good idea I default to not.

So um, yeah, getting back in my groove I was clearly tired from the traveling and what all because yesterday afternoon I just hit tired. Um. Even hit tired before that after the second hour of writing I laid down to put my feet up because I work on the walking desk and so I occasionally like during our breaks I’ll elevate my feet get the blood going the other direction so I had my book in my hand and. Put my feet up on the you know sort of the futon couch in our bedroom and fell asleep I was late coming back I was like I was sorry gurnda I totally fell asleep and then by late afternoon I was just fighting sleep. And I considered going and taking a nap then but it was already 4 and I thought ah do I really want to take a nap at like 4 and it’s still wanted to take 1 at like 5 so I read for a while in the grape arbor the pergola under the pergola and I think maybe this is a pergola but then when you put grapes on it. It becomes the grape arbor does that seem like a reasonable definition. So I read for a while then I watched an episode of ob b one. But only watched the first episode I think david didn’t love. Love love it and he was he was sleeping because he had had a bad night the night before and hadn’t slept much so I watched ob one and I’m liking it. Um. I’m not gaga for it I have thoughts about that I’ll talk about that in a moment. Um, but then by like seven thirty I was just still feeling like I needed to sleep so I ended up starting to get ready for bed. You know, picking things up and that kind of thing and I was asleep by 8:30 people and slept until six thirty so clearly I needed it I was kind of thinking about the thing about shows because we talk about them so much. Um. My ah couple friends had recommended watching ob b one saying that they thought I’d like it and I do It’s not that I don’t like it. But I think part of it is because I don’t watch all that much tv overall I prefer to read right? you know? and so i’m.

Get very absorbed in the books I’m reading. In fact, I’m not sure if I mentioned I probably didn’t since this is partly over me being gone but you know I’ve been doing this whole series reread of this author who I’d liked for so very long. Um and had fallen off and. Didn’t ever get around to her spinoff seriess or not off to um, more than like a couple of them that I wasn’t wild by but then later she did some series with spinoff characters where she did the same. Ah, female male lead for 3 books and I’m discovering that this is my catnip. This is my sweet spot to have that same relationship for 3 books which is why I am considering doing that for. I have to figure out at like what point does considering become the plan I am considering doing this for the next books in the bonds of magic world I mentioned that book one is being called shadow wizard. Which I think is pretty well set. And yeah I want to do 3 books with Judgeron and Cellie and then I want to do another trilogy with somebody else I don’t know if I should say yeah because it could change right. That’s the other thing. Oh he Zeus might be here I will be back now. It was someone doing something over at my neighbors. Um, also apparently all way brush tis the season. So. So yeah, that’s some I’m discovering I really love that especially in something like epic fantasy romance or urban fantasy which is what the books I’m reading are and it’s um, yeah, where you have a lot of. External arc where you have a lot of action lot of things going on being able to have that romance that’s developed over the course of a trilogy is ah yeah, just my catnip these days and it’s what I want to read? It’s what I want to write.

So that’s why a couple of you did comment social media to me about the am I really talking about nine books in the bonds of magic world and yes, reader. I am ah I think it was Laura Darnell asked if I’m going to do these straight through or if I’m going to interweave them with other books I wish I was doing them straight through I really do. But I do have other things to write. It’s one. Things about when you have a relationship with an agent that you kind of have to accommodate that relationship. So unless she’s selling books for me, she doesn’t make money and we also kind of have to keep my name out there and so forth. So they. Secret projects secret projects. There are 2. One is totally brand new. It’s this idea that has been a twinkle in my eye I think these guys are stuck I have to go look again? Sorry okay so I think what happened is they were not going to my neighbors. It looks like they. Are delivering trees which is great season to plant them with the monsoons and I think they came around the corner a little too fast and went to the borrow ditch and they had to get the ah truck on the borrow ditch. You know he slipped a slidey with the mud people here aren’t used to it. So anyway, ah, what was I saying I shouldn’t let myself get distracted. So yeah, reading oh the new projects. So yeah, this one has been a twinkle in my eye since early in the year and Sarah is interested in that story. And then the other one is one that I’ve talked about before which is the science fantasy that I wrote like 50 pages of and we went out on submission and came this close now. These guys are roaring off again. Glad this is not my brush guy because these guys are um, not on top of it. It was oscars tree service not my lord and savior Jesus. But I can hear their engine roaring. They’re just like ah they were running around like ants around the truck. Ah always exciting around here. So anyway, um, yeah, so the other ones the science fantasy we came this close I thought I was going to sell it.

To Tor I mean the the editorial director at Tor said that she fucking loved this book. But it was too close to something else that they had like sold and marketed like a decade before this is how tribe publishing works. So anyway, um. I had mentioned in our beginning of your planning call to agent Sarah that I was planning to finish writing that book and self- publishlish it because I do love it and she said well since it has been since fall of 2019 my how time flies. Ah. If I’m going to go ahead and write the whole book. Anyway, would I let her take it on submission one more time because the publishing houses have completely turned over It’s you know by the time we got it out there. Well at this rate who knows when I’ll have it written but you know could be spring of 2023 and that’s coming up on 4 years so we’ll see um I need to talk to her about which book she would like to see first but I’m going to write shadow wizard then write one of those books and then um and then go to town on renegades of magic. Which is what I’m calling this trilogy but back to the trilogy that I’m reading ah I had read this I read all the way through all of this authors currently published works and it was a great reading binge I enjoyed it and those. The last trilogy she did I really feel like she just knocked it out of the park I just loved it and now I’m in the peculiar position of do I recommend it without ah tipping all of you off to who I’ve been reading all this time. Because I know I bitched about stuff in the earlier books. But I love this trilogy I love this trilogy so much that I turned around and reread it which is unusual for me part of it was because I finished that third book and I was going to be flying the next day and I wanted stuff to read on the airplane I wanted something that I knew would satisfy me get me through the airports and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. So now I’m almost done rereading the third book and then I swear I will move on with my life and read something else. But. Wow are these books good? um it. It just hit my sweet spot. So um I don’t know what I’m gonna read next I’m supposed to read something for I’ve I’ve couple things that I’m supposed to read to blurb and so I need to start doing that.

Work that into my schedule see if I can. Um yeah I was thinking about a syndrome I was gonna just sort of tip you guys off to this. This is a part of my personal theory of how the world works. But. I think it’s correct because I would not harbor an incorrect theory. You guys. So one thing about traditional publishing is that they will really invest in the cover of the first book of a series. Um, did. They just have this whole mindset of promoting that irst book which can be a useful mindset I mean there there is a lot to be said for having control of the none um I just get over having control of that none book in the series. Because that’s the entree. Um like I was mentioning yesterday with covenant of thorns with my re-release of those books I looked at the math. It’s 3 times I have 3 times as many preorders for book one as I do for all 3 and you know so some people are giving me that vote of confidence of yes. I’m absolutely going to read all 3 but you know the other 2 thirds of readers I think this is probably a pretty reliable statistic will preorder book one and see how they like it and and I would totally do the same thing so and Amazon has a really cool deal. Where and I love this actually that when you buy the first book and then decide to buy the rest of the series. They’ll give you that series price less the book you already own. So there’s really no penalty to waiting. So you know that first book is the entree traditional publishers have that much correct. What they what they do that is really frustrating is that they will then punt on the cover of the second book. I’m trying to feel what this is behind me I could see it on the screen. Okay, it’s it was just that um fragment of that vase that I have back there for some reason it was looking dark and lurking. Don’t mind me while I get distracted. So part of why I’m thinking about this is that I don’t know what it is about the second book but they kind of they must have this make or break and I don’t have the inside knowledge on this but I’ve observed it happen where.

If the first book doesn’t hit some kind of watermark for them then they slap a cheap crappy cover on the second book which I can’t even um, it’s they did it to me on 12 kingdoms. The the mark of the tala has a really great intriguing cover. It’s not my ideal cover. It looks a little too YA they made me change the title of that book because it was originally called the middle princess. They made me change the title because I felt like the title was too YA which fair enough. Ah, but then they slapped a really YA cover on it and as one of my stalwart readers Mary Lynn Nielsen I don’t know if you listen to this podcast mentioned she was going through and compiling books by women fantasy writers. She was really interested that Kensington called those books fantasy. They didn’t package them as fantasy. So some of that is confusion within the house I don’t even know. But for the second book for The Tears of the Rose that cover wasn’t nearly as good. It’s um, there are a lot of crappy things about it and they gave me 0 consultation. They handed me that cover. They said here you go um I think it was even posted before I saw it and I was terribly disappointed because it’s um. If you go look at them. it’s just um it’s a dumb cover. It doesn’t look like it doesn’t look like anything um and it’s not as well done as not as well executed as the first cover. The third cover is much better and I did get. Input into that cover. So I I’m not exactly sure what happens there if they like do books one and two too rapidly and like that second cover is like okay, let’s do the same kind of thing. But as I said I’m thinking about this because I have a friend who had self-published some books and then decided to um where we don’t talk much anymore from long history. There. So I don’t know why she made the decision but she went with this small press. Publish the books for her and I know she was at least social media excited on it right? You know talk to up a good game. Really happy to have someone else publish and market these books for her yada yada they gave her a really cool cover for that first book and you know it’s like great.

And and this is totally legit I am not um, you know whatever people decide to do you know having somebody else package of market. Your books can be huge if you don’t want to spend the time doing it and you know if you’re hoping to break into other markets. So forth so they give her a gorgeous cover for that first book. And then just the other day I saw the cover for the second book and it’s nothing like the first book. It’s not nearly as good and it’s like what they did to me on these that’s like they just phone in that second cover and and I tend to think it’s when. That first book doesn’t sell at the numbers that they want it to so um, the mark of the talla is still still selling strong. In fact I just got this renewal of rights the other day. It’s it’s selling consistently. Um, you know my first agency. Sends me checks and she sends me little congratulations with it because it’s like still making money and I know a lot of people still pick up those books still love those books. Um I I would love to get the rights back for those books and I just think it ain’t gonna happen because they sell too well. But. I wish I could because the the other option folks is if they so well enough that they decide to put new covers on them so we could hope for that because um I while I’m fine with the first and third covers. Um I would love a new cover for tears of the rose. So let. You know that Hbo mini series when they decide to recover to match the series aesthetic. Let’s do that all right? I’m gonna go get to work today and hope you all have a wonderful midsummer day. Um. Perhaps a midsummer night’s dream tonight and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

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