Imagine me rolling my hands together, my eyes glazed over with a madness over my own inflated worth . . . or just see me laughing that I actually had more say in something than I ever thought possible.
You see as an author, you build a career slowly. And from the very beginning, you learn one very simple rule, well hopefully you learn this rule: The only thing you have power over is your writing. If you don’t learn this lesson quickly, you become an author who doesn’t last long. Or one who beats their head against the wall needlessly over things you can’t change. Period. You can’t. End of story.
Covers, titles, artwork, font styles, bad copy setting, marketing, sales, promotions, Walmart, missing pages are all elements that are far beyond the reach of mere authors. If you think a cover is cheesy, think how the poor author feels having their name (hopefully spelled correctly) plastered across that cliched piece of artwork with a title that makes you want to stab a pencil through your heart.
But I’m not one to beat my head needlessly, or try to snatch power where I won’t find it, and I’ve worked for the last 14 years writing my best stories and making suggestions to my publishers where I can. Note that I said “suggestions.” Because they have been just those for years.
Or so I thought until recently.
About a month back, my editor sent me the cover for the large print edition of Confessions of a Little Black Gown and asked me what I thought. Consider this, I have little power with my own publisher, so what can I do about an edition that is being done by another publisher? This is like telling your second cousin twice removed to change out of that inappropriate outfit at your grandmother’s 80th birthday party.
But here it was, my editor asking me what I thought of it, not the usual, “here it is and my apologies for not sending this with a defibrillator.” Once the shock of being asked about a cover that is well out of my control wore off a bit, I wrote back the following:
What do I think? I think the large print people need thicker glasses so they can actually read the difference between a blond heroine and a brunette one. As you can tell, I am feeling better, since my snark meter is back working . . .
Now I have known my editor for well over a decade, so we are pretty honest with each other. But I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought my rather off the cuff distaste over having this Victorian evoking, vampire-ish cover with a model who is so terribly off from the actual heroine in the book (Come on folks, does this look like Tally Langley to you?!) would amount to anything other than as a really snarky aside to my editor. I mean, I’m just the author, right?
Little did I know.
Apparently my, er, opinion of the cover was heard. Actually, dag-nabbit heard! And listened to. And acted upon. Because if that first cover wasn’t enough to send me into a relapse of not breathing, this one just about had me dialing 911. What the heck-a? It’s the gown. The actual gown almost as I envisioned it.
Oh, the power of it . . . Next up, global warming.
So tell me, if you suddenly found you had the power to change covers, what would you suggest?