What some authors do is to call their agent, sometimes in a panic. But no worries, here is what I tell my authors. First, I calm them down and assure them that their opinions matter. What I do next is find out what they had in mind when envisioning the cover – what art, background, colors, and fonts did they dream of when creating their books? This usually stops them cold, and they actually have to stop for a moment and think about it.
After brainstorming together, I combine some photos of what they want for the background, and what they want the cover models (if any) to look like from photos on the Internet. I superimposed them over each other in a VERY rough draft to simulate what they had in mind. I suggest instead of just whining, “Oh I don’t like that cover at all!” to give their publishers solutions before rejecting the proposed cover. It’s fun to play with font, and more importantly, to see their actual names across the book covers.
What happened next will amaze you! The publisher will often times listen to you, the author. One author was given several choices for cover models from the publisher’s available stock photos, and then the background was matched as much as possible to our own mock up that we designed.
Suddenly, it was like TA-DA! Poof! It was just the cover the author had hoped for. It was a collaboration of efforts between the publisher and author, and they both ended up happy.
Now sometimes, you’ll come to an impasse, as what happened with another one of my authors. When that is the case, the publisher usually has the final say so on cover art. They will “consider” other options that the author suggests, but ultimately, they have the final approval. (Unless you’re a NYT best seller, then you may have more pull, which is something I always try to negotiate in contracts – cover art final approval!)
Believe it or not, disliking cover art is quite a common complaint I hear from authors. If you take the time to problem solve instead of making empty demands of “I don’t know what to suggest for new art, just not this!” you will have a much better outcome. Hope this helps all writers out there.
Happy writing. Have a safe and fun 4th of July!
(Note: This cover was a collaboration between author and publisher after author had luke warm feelings about the original cover art proposal. It turned out beautifully and all parties are happy! FIRST SUN will be available September 2014 from Fire & Ice YA, by author Tara Tolly.)
Tina P. Schwartz, Founder & Literary Agent, The Purcell Agency, LLC (c) July 2014