Wednesday, September 23, 2009

As usual, Ed Anon gets it exactly right

If you want your book to be entirely under your control, then that's what self publishing is for. If you want your book to have the benefit of a team of people who know the industry and how to sell books, that's when you submit it to publishers.

I can't tell you the number of queries I get that specify what the book should look like, the trim size, the layout, and often the cover. I can't tell you because those queries don't even reach the query bin, they're pretty much instantly rejected.

The brutal reality of publishing is that the contract you will sign when I sell your book gives the publisher complete control over all those things. I can often negotiate the phrase "with consultation, approval not to be unreasonably withheld" into the contract, but in the end, the publisher decides what the book will look like.


Alissa Grosso said...

I think the publisher deciding what the book will look like is one of the benefits of publishing with a traditional publisher. I'd much prefer experts handling that sort of thing.

Margaret Yang said...

I think that most writers get this. What's amazing is that most readers do not get this. Writers get asked about their covers all the time, as in, "Why did you pick THAT cover?"

Unknown said...

So true. I just finished a self-published novel that could have been good with the benefit of a team...

...and a copy editor. Sooooo many typos.

csmith said...

" "with consultation, approval not to be unreasonably withheld" "

Thanks Janet. Good to know the phrasing. Not that I know my arse from my elbow where covers are concerned, but as someone who has recently come across a book set in 1800's Ireland with (I kid you not) a BAMBOO SCRIPT AND YAOI CARTOON CHARACTERS ON THE FRONT in a sort of horrible pastiche of infinite WTF-ery I am now hyperaware of the importance of sensible covers and typesetting.

Scott Bryan said...

While I have a great idea for a cover, what I don’t have is experience in the field. I’d rather sacrifice my choice of cover than sacrifice readership because of my lack of knowledge.

Susan Bonifant said...

I would never do that. But what if I know who should star in the movie?

Literary Cowgirl said...

Absolutley nothing in my contract gave me a right to any say (except a polite bit about consulting me on artwork), but I have been so lucky and am working with a great publisher. Not only have I had a say, but my input has been taken seriously. They even pursued the artist I suggested, and when things did not work out, they kept be very informed and found an illustrator with a similar style.

That being said, I am also very lucky to have a top notch team behind me and my ms. I'd be lost without my editor. She's a ball buster, but wow can she ever whip things into shape. I turst her suggestions, as well as the publisher's visions.

Just like any team, you need mutual trust to win the game.

Gary Corby said...

I'm having a magical experience with Minotaur on cover consultation. They've been fantastic about asking for my ideas and adopting what they think will work.

Janet edged that consultation phrase into my contract, but I honestly believe even if it weren't there we'd still be having the same conversation, because they care.

SundaySoup said...

Janet said...but in the end, the publisher decides what the book will look like.

Well...most of the time, unless a zillion writers, publishers, and editors object on Twitter and the blogs around the world...then they do a re-shoot and are made to look like a LIAR for saying the cover they chose is going to stick no matter what.

Just kidding...I mean, I do know this was the exception. When people ask me if I chose the artwork for my book, I just laugh. My editor did ask me what I thought. Luckily, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT, and while I think editors are probably disappointed when a writer doesn't like a cover they love, I doubt it changes much. No matter what your contract says about your input (short of final say).

Patience-please said...

If an agent (a worthy one, of course) were saying the words

"The brutal reality of publishing is that the contract you will sign when I sell your book"


[sorry, okay, better now]

If a (worthy) agent were ever to say those words to me, I wouldn't give a rat's ass what the professional designers did for the cover.

But I guess to get to that point you actually have to send out a query, hmmmm.