Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Facet of Publishing

Blechta posting -- a few days late.

My blog entry for last week was supposed to be about my research trip to California (it went quite well, thanks), but that got put on the back burner when I got a curve thrown my way by my publisher. You see, I had to get a cover for said book done from bare concept to (almost) finished product in not very much time.

So the past week has been spent by me, doing something most authors don't get a chance to even get close to: designing the cover of my next novel.

Publishers (generally for very good reasons) usually keep their authors far away from the process of giving their book its public face. When the cover is prepared, it's usually presented as a fait accompli to the author. Oh yes, they'll let us possibly suggested the odd tweak, but they've spent a fair bit of time coming up with the cover, and if an illustrator is involved or stock photos purchased, quite a bit of money. Unless the author runs screaming from the room, that first cover design is what will be in the bookstores. Even heavy duty authors are often told what cover they're going to get.

If the author does object, he/she will be told that whatever is bugging them is "a marketing decision". Quite often publishers have somewhat of a house style for their covers, too, so that the designer must work within that framework and it can't/won't be changed.

Another shortcoming of the process is that almost always, the cover designer only has a rudimentary knowledge of the book's story line. The editor often feeds them this, along with ideas from the marketing department. They might also get a rough design concept sketch from one or the other of these people. Then they go to work with their "designery" ideas.

Quite often, this process can come up with some pretty good results. It can also come up with some pretty horrendous ones.

Now, as I said off the top, I'm a bit of an oddball in the book publishing game (no snide comments, Benoit!) since I also work as a graphic designer. Because of that, my publisher(s) have let me submit cover designs. Look at it this way: who knows the book better? Since I (supposedly )have the understanding and skill to bring my ideas into something that LOOKS like a cover, they give me a shot at it. Do they always like the concept that I come up with? No, but I'm used to that as a designer and I don't take it personnally. Last book, I did three covers before they said, "That's the one!" Designing goes like that sometimes, same as writing.

So what does the new cover look like? You'll have to wait until next week, since we have only the broad strokes done at this point. My photographer/design buddy, the talented Andre Leduc is still having his kick at the can with the images (there are three being used in a composite).

Stay tuned! And I'll get back to my visit to Portola, CA, promise.


Vicki Delany said...

I, for one, can't wait to see it! I love Rick's covers. I did a booksigning at a lovely bookstore in Boise, Idaho today, and the store owner told me that the cover of Glacer is very effective. She said it's much better than my others - really stands out on the shelf.

Rick Blechta said...

I guess I'll have to wait until those fine folks at Chapters finally get some stock in.

As soon as we have a final, I'll post the new cover on this blog.

Hope you're feeling better daily!

Vicki Delany said...

Feeling better daily, for sure. I've given up on the fine folk at Chapters and am telling everyone to buy from (cheaper too)

Vicki Delany said...

Oh, and of course people can and should buy at their local independent bookstore such as Sleuth of Baker street!