1. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    why shouldnt writers design their own cover are?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dave_c, Apr 8, 2011.

    Iv read a couple of threads where people have said editors wont allow writers to do their own cover art work.

    This seems really off to me. Iv just spent the best part of a year simply creating the world my story will take place in. Why shouldn't i have the final say on what goes into the artwork for the cover?

    Why have someone re-envision my novel in an image when i can do a better job of it. Assuming i want an image on my front cover.

    Just opinion i suppose.
     
  2. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    I don't think there's a rule against it as such. But your editor has other people on the payroll to consider. Some of those cover artists are hardworking people just like you and if they don't have a project to work on, they don't get paid.

    If doing the cover art is so important to you, make sure your editor understands this before you sign anything. Or, self publish and you can have all of the creative control you like.

    Personally, I would like for my sister-in-law to do coverwork for my writing because she's a talented artist and it would help her to get her work out there. But if my very first manuscript were accepted by someone who could actually get my work into bookstores and retail environments, I wouldn't argue with them too much.
     
  3. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    I'm certain that a publisher will let you use your own cover art if they think it's good/fit the book. Often the publisher prefer to design the cover art themselves (indirectly through other artists), because they'll be able to decide exactely how the cover art ends up looking. They also (most often) know best what sells and what does not sell. In other words; they want control :)
     
  4. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    It really depends on your agent/publisher/editor/whatever. I'm sure if you really wanted to and are a good artist, you could do your own cover art.

    Wayne Barlowe wrote a novel God's Demon and did the cover art for it as well. A lot of that probably has a to do with the fact he is a well known magazine and cover artist.
     
  5. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    If you want to design your own cover, you'll probably need to self-publish. That's exactly the type of control an author gets when he's self-publishing...but that's not always a good thing.

    Publishers understand the principles and philosophies behind book cover design. It's not as easy as just slapping a graphic on there, then typing the title and author name. There are certain elements of design that need to be considered, and typography plays a very important role. Take a tour of some of the self-published covers out there--you can usually tell when an author without design skills and/or an understanding of what makes a book cover "work" has created their own.

    Look at it this way...the publisher has invested time and money to whip your manuscript into publishable shape. They are going to spend time and money marketing your book. Despite the old adage not to judge a book by its cover, many readers do. In fact, it's one of the most important aspects of your book, as far as getting a potential reader to buy it. If your cover doesn't attract interest or intrigue the reader, they'll never get so far as to look inside and discover that it's actually a good story, too. Publishers don't want to invest their time and money in a book so that an author can indulge their vanity by designing a bad or amateurish cover.

    At my first publisher, the artist asked me for ideas or thoughts on the cover, which I gave. She then came up with the design. I was allowed to give feedback. The final decision rested in the hands of the publisher. My current publisher also allows me to offer feedback, but again, they have final say. For my newest novel, I was actually shown five different covers and asked which I liked best. They used the one I chose.

    I think that's a fair compromise. I appreciate having input, but I also understand that I'm not an artist/designer, nor am I a marketing expert. What I may think is a great cover may not fit the genre of my book well, or perhaps it has flaws as far as being a book cover that I don't see or understand. You have to realize, book cover art is used as a marketing tool...it's not just a pretty picture. There are certain elements it must have, and things to avoid. Your publishers knows that stuff better than you do--they have a lot of experience with it.
     
  6. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I'm sure there's some marketing formula for the cover.

    For instance, I've seen covers compared where the figures are in the same poses and have the same elements in the painting. The books are coming from different publishers, so there must be some strategy at work shared by the different companies.
     
  7. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    To add, most of these publishers have to worry about making money for the novel. You have to remember that the large majority of novels published aren't those million/billion-dollar enterprises or authors like Harry Potter or Stephen King or what not. Because of that, the publishers have to make sure that the cover is something that is marketable and will make a good profit, because oftentimes, it is the first and only thing people see when they're considering buying the novel, before they put it back on that bookshelf.
     
  8. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    This is exactly what I wanted to say.

    Authors may view the cover, the title of the novel, and the summary on the back as part of their art, but it isn't. Their art is what's written outside. The rest of it is just there to CONVINCE people to read your book.

    And publishers know what images and titles to use that will make people pick up your book and catch their eye, even if they've never heard of it before.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Some people are experts at writing and others are experts at art. Lots of people are good at both, but publishers want to turn to the absolute top-notch expert cover designers to market their books. I'm sure you could have a say in it if you discuss it, but in order to do the cover yourself you'd have to prove you're that good.
     
  10. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    bingo give her the prize, the publisher knows the market to the extent they will and have insist on a title chane
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    They do give more and more say as the author becomes more popular and there's a brand at work. One writer I know, among his first books there were some truly awful tacky covers going with marketing trends. Later, he got a little say, and as he grew more respected, he got to approve his covers. A much more famous writer I know has her artist husband do all her more recent covers. They aren't that great and probably fail a lot of marketing tests, but she's a big name so she can do what she wants pretty much.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The cover art is marketing, and publishers feel they are best off dealing with illustrators they have had success with.

    Keep in mind that the submissions editor makes the decision on the manuscript. The decision on cover art and other marketing aspects are made much later in the process, by different departments in the publishing company, long after the decision is made and contracts are drawn up for the manuscript.
     
  13. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    I am confused in so far as the importance the cover art would be to the creator, what we are trying to do spawns a one picture don't tell an eight thousand word story attitude, don't it ?

    That being said if artwork inspires you to write non coma inducing **** , go for it !
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Vanity?

    If the book is great, the cover art created by that writer obviously is too. :)

    The most common case in which art is included by the author of the book is a celebrity author, i.e. someone who was famous before they wrote a book. It doubles the astonishment ("Rock Star Rupert wrote a book? And he created the cover with finger paints too? Amazing, I hardly expected him to chew gum without stumbling.")
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The cover is more vital than all the words - if your cover doesn't stand out on the shelves - looks ugly on an ebook has a lousy blurb the numbers of people reading the next ten thousand words are affected.

    The author questionairres I have seen and filled in have both asked about brand, visual ideas and I understand while it may be ignored an author is often given a questionairre later on about the cover. The more specific you can be on this the less likely you are to be disappointed with the final product.
     
  16. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Intended comedy y'all......my true feelings ... i would not foresake a freakin second of character development time thinking about the cover....until I am one zillon percent sure my prose is gonna inspire the reader to laugh, cry, think or take a mafia contract out on me , why bother ?
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some of us have completed books that do just that. When you have a completed book and are looking for agents/publishers it is time to start thinking about websites, brands etc I didn't spend all that time and energy writing something for the publisher to stick a generic black cover on it.
     
  18. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    And this sort of entitlement and writer-knows-best is why publishers and agents will be very, very wary of someone that has their own art work. In fact, I've heard of several agents that will outright reject a manuscript that includes a writer's own artwork for cover (or even illustrations) as it's easier than trying to deal with rejecting some author's artwork (as people seem to get way more 'omg that's from my soul how dare you say it's not great' about visual art, over fiction).

    Not to mention, having to deal with the attitude that a publisher or agent is so inept as to not know how to 'deal' with a writer's genius, as if they're going to just slap a black cover on a book without any feedback from the author.

    You guys do realize in most cases the author has a lot of say in the cover, it's just that publishers and agents don't jump for joy when they receive a manuscript with the author's own 'art work.'
     
  19. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Don't be ridiculous. You don't think a publisher wants to sell your book just as badly as you do? They are the ones who are risking money on the entire venture. It's not in a publisher's best interest to "stick a generic black cover" on your book. They will design a cover that they feel is a strong marketing tool. Whether or not they're any good at it, depends on the publisher. But a generic black cover? Give me a break.

    The myths people spread around about evil publishers and the way they seek to sabotage and destroy all the hard work of authors never fail to amaze me.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    In this case it is the girl who worked in the library and museum bookshop hat not the author that is speaking - whilst I won't be sending in my own artwork - I do know that a green, maroon, or orange cover stands out well on library shelves - a spine with more than one colour works really well.

    A black cover may look great but when you are looking at the books in the bookshop it blends in with all the other covers.

    The most beautiful artwork on a cover I have ever seen in real life is Toni Morrison's books - they are so elegant HOWEVER they look crap as ebook covers and don't work in a library setting when you are looking at the spine on.

    I have spent too many hours to have a publisher place a cover on my book that won't stand out.

    I do know what I am asking for in terms of colour etc The exact cover is upto the illustrator.

    Where did all those black covers on the library and bookshop shelves come from then ?
     
  21. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    palm, meet face. smack.
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ;) Librarians are useful with this lol - fact is the ones I know say the hardest books to shift are those with a black cover and a debut author. The YA and crime/detective fiction are full of them.

    Not everyone is as dedicated as my friend who has his staff read them and put reviews up or will put them face on, on display.

    As right now I have one YA High Fantasy, one detective novel on the way and another which is fantasy/detective I am at greatest risk of a black cover. ;)

    I agree as authors we shouldn't be telling the publishers their jobs but nor am I going to blindly hand my work over. Publishers make mistakes and recently have made a lot of them.
     
  23. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Are you talking about the spine of the book? Or the fact that black is used for the background color or one element of the cover design? When you said "generic black cover", it sounded like you were suggesting that certain publishers literally gave a book a solid black cover.

    And I'm sorry, but working in a library doesn't exactly make you an expert on the publishing industry or marketing. A cover featuring a black background didn't exactly prevent Stephenie Meyers from selling millions and millions of copies of Twilight. Also didn't hurt "The Hunger Games". In fact, take a look at the current bestsellers on Amazon.com...you will find more than one cover in the top 40 that has a black background.

    There are people working for publishers who have degrees in marketing and design and/or years of experience selling books. Authors who approach a publisher as though they know best, or who have the attitude that their book is the most special, precious piece of literature ever, and therefore publishers should bow and scrape to acquire it yet not demand a certain level of creative control, aren't likely to get very far with traditional publishing. If you want total control, self-publish. Otherwise, accept that when you're not the one taking the financial risk, you're also not going to get the final say.
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Black spine and most of the design is black with a picture on the front. Basically the cover has a high proportion of black on it.

    You are right Librarians aren't experts in publishing they are experts in shifting books as are those who work in bookshops and these days Amazon also takes into account ebooks.

    Of course some books with black covers and the full machine of the publishing company behind them will shift. However Harry Potter does not have a black spine - they are in the UK two tone. Stand out exceptionally well on the shelves.

    So you are saying as authors we shouldn't learn as much about the business as possible ? Or that publishers do not make mistakes? Whilst I am the last to whinge about the state of the publishing industry - of course I am taking a financial risk the raw material is mine, and I want to be able to publish with them again, I want my book to stand the best chance of making it - it is my book even if they pay for the publishing etc I do not want it to be pulped. There is more to being an author than just writing. It may not be the greatest literature but it is my work so yes it is precious enough to me not to blind when I enter into it.

    Yes the final decision will be theirs but that doesn't mean to say I cannot with help of if I get one an agent negotiate things and be specific about what I want when asked.

    There is a difference between treating something as a great work of fiction etc and approaching people with an understanding of the market it is going into. These days publishers and agents are looking for people who are willing to market their own work. I have a friend who is a NYT bestseller and she still needed to negotiate over her website - she gave in over some things and held out over others. She does all sorts to market her books none of which is paid for by the publisher.

    However if I don't get what I am after rather than compromise my work I will self publish and market it myself.
     
  25. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    If the publisher deems the book worthy they go balls to the walls with on cover with phat embossing that screams pick me up from the store's shelves
     

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