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Nearly 20 Years of Giving Editors Headaches Over Nit-Picky, but Important Cover Change Requests

If you follow me on Twitter you might have noticed that I’ve been busy harassing editors over cover changes. Nothing big, because we have been blessed in the cover department lately, but nit-picky things. In one case the color wash, while lovely, seemed a tint wrong and the image didn’t pop like we wanted. In the other, the overall design of the cover just seemed off. The illustration was great, the font was great, but the layout wasn’t working.

While these changes seemed little, and in the world of cover complaints they were tiny, making them made a huge difference in how the cover will pop both online and in stores. Luckily, in both cases, we had publishers who were willing to work with us. It took a lot of brainstorming and conversations to make sure we were all on the same page, but in the end we ended up with two really strong covers that everyone was happy with.

When you first receive your cover I would strongly urge you to take the time to get your agent’s opinion before dashing off an email to your editor. Just like in contract negotiations, we lose a whole lot of our power when the editor perceives that the complaints are only coming from the agent, since the author already emailed to say it was fantastic.

An agent, like an editor, has years of experience analyzing covers and understanding what works and what doesn’t. She knows why (we speculate) readers are drawn to certain books and hopes that she can make yours stand out in that New York Times bestseller way. She obsesses over things like chest hair, pools of blood, Dystopian skylines, font size and color splashes. She also knows how to (hopefully) bring these things to the attention of your publishing team in a way that keeps you looking good and makes the book look better.

We all want our book to be great and to sell like crazy. When making any of these decisions don’t forget your agent. She’s as much a part of your team as your editor and just like with your book, it never hurts to have another set of eyes.

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6 comments

  1. I said a few days ago that someone at Bookends is a cover genius. Even in the world of e-publishing and I only read e-books now. It’s amazing how much the cover still influences what we read.

  2. Oh, yes, you guys are lucky indeed in matters of covers! I saw some of the best covers ever on your site. Especially the ones to Saying Yes to the Boss and Bound Beneath blew me away. Among others, sure, but these two were just WOW!
    There is also a publisher whose covers I find super attractive, but I guess I’m not allowed to name the publisher here. I really don’t want to advertise for anyone, but if you’re ever curious I’ll tell you. The covers made me want to work with them – I don’t just yet, but hopefully soon.

    1. Ana: Feel free to share the publisher if you’re willing. I think a lot of authors can say the same about a particular publisher in their particular genre. It will also differ depending on the author.

  3. Covers are what give us our first impression of a book. I know Heckle and Jeckle will reject a book because of the cover, and then I have to convince them to read the blurb and give the book a chance. Another reason why I want an agent!!

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