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Oh, the Power . . .

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?

3 comments to “Oh, the Power . . .”

  1. Jamie
    August 3rd, 2009 at 4:41 am · Link

    Out of those two, I do like the second one better. I have ALWAYS wished that the two people on the cover resemble the hero and heroine. I know it is stupid, but I never understood why the heroes on the outside had no chest hair and the hero on the inside had a carpet on his chest. Nice to hear that you guys aren’t the ones doing that – I guess. But it must be very frustrating for you to see errors that you have no control over. Often I have noticed grammar errors in the book or even a character called or had his/her name wrong. I think – who proof read this? I am sure that is not your doing either.

    The second cover, while not about the story, is simple and the nice design means the story could be anything. The first one is not what I think of the heroine at all. Tally is a bit more carefree. I think they should give the writer some rights to their work. Nice you fought for yours.

  2. Diane O
    August 3rd, 2009 at 5:11 pm · Link

    I like the second one better myself — it’s very classy. I did like the prominence of your name on the first one though — it really stood out. But the rest of it, I totally agree with you.

    I remember at one of my first Seattle RWA meetings back in the 1980’s, Debbie Macomber, Janice Johnson or Pam Toth were telling us that was one something they had NO control over. I remember it to this day when I’m peeved over a cover that has little relationship to the hero or heroine within the pages of the book.

    I’m also thinking that covers are a sign of the times too. Remember when Fabio was on Johanna Lindsey books and we all thought he was special. I remember Johanna coming to town and we did that dinner for her and she showed us a photo of her Fabio moment when he was holding her like one of her heroines. I remember thinking that is pretty cool and now I look back at those covers and think they’re rather cheesy.

  3. Nicole Mc
    August 4th, 2009 at 9:33 am · Link

    I really like the second one…the first one *gasp*. I cant think of any book that would look good on, maybe a makeup book. It’s way to Americas Top Model for Romance. It’s nice to hear that you had some pull!! 🙂

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