The Path You Get #amwriting #NaNoWriMo @pawf1067

The Path You Get

Not that long ago, I got a book deal, my first. I couldn’t tell you the excitement I felt. I had reached my dream of being a published (fiction) writer. Finally, after multiple hours of writing notes and chapters in spiral notebooks, then typing it all in, I’d sold my first book. Someone appreciated the story that I’d spent countless hours constructing and reconstructing in my head. I knew I’d arrived…until I saw my book cover.

It was terrible. Truly terrible.

An attractive looking woman in a dark orange sweater and blue jeans stood winking at the camera. Behind her, a guy nuzzled her neck as he cupped her boobs. This would be the first thing people would see when they saw my title.

My work. My creation.

I sat there, staring at the screen shaking my head and talking to no one. With utmost certainty, this was not my story..at all. Not one stinkin’ thing about that cover reflected anything to do with what I’d spent hours creating. Along with the worst cover in the world, my name had been placed across the front of this woman’s crotch in dark red letters. You couldn’t even see my name!

After the shock wore thin, I had a complete meltdown, the likes of which my poor husband had never seen. Truly, I’m surprised he didn’t run to the airport and catch a one-way ticket to New Zealand. I talked to a writer friend who said I would have little pull being a brand new writer, but to talk to my editor about my very valid concerns. So I did.

Her response was, “Tough. This is the cover you’re getting or you can take your book elsewhere.” She followed that up with, “Oh, and we’re just going to print your book as is. No edits.”

No. No. No. No. NO!

Now, this is the part I want you to listen to very closely. When someone is so unbending, when someone isn’t listening to anything you are telling them about your book, when someone tells you they aren’t even going to edit your story because “it’s good enough”, run. I don’t care if it’s your first book deal or tenth. Run.

I did.

As a writer, you work is your face. Your image. Your craft. Don’t spend hours, weeks perfecting a chocolate cake and allow someone to pour gravy all over it and tell you it’s fine. Don’t let your worry of never getting another book deal ever cloud your good business judgment. Yes, I know you want to make that sale, we all do. If you’re writing in NaNoWriMo, of course you want to see results from all the hard work you’ve put in, but don’t allow your desperation of wanting to be a published author get in the way of a saying no to crappy book covers and awful editors. Every published author I’ve ever talked has at least one horror story like mine. Whether it was a dreadful book cover or bad editing or simply a bad business deal, stand back and think.

With a lot of tears, I canceled that contract and pulled my book. Not long after that, authors talked about bounced royalty checks and within the year, the publisher went into bankruptcy. Even after hearing of the publisher failing, I worried I’d never get my book sold, but I kept writing and writing and writing and finally in 2012, I sold my first full length book to Soulmate Publishing.

Since then, I’ve published four indie books set in Texas and contracted another two with Soulmate. To add to that, my book Burning with Desire from Tule Publishing, came out in April 2017 and just this week, I signed a three book deal with Tule to develop a medical romance series. When I received that first book deal, this isn’t where I thought I’d be. It’s not the path I assumed I’d walk, but it turned out better than I imagined.

Keep moving forward friends. Keep writing.

Patricia W. Fischer is an award-winning romance writer who loves telling a good story. After spending a decade in the ICU and ER’s, she turned to writing full time. She’s the host of Readers Entertainment Radio and has a monthly book picks TV segment on San Antonio Living.

You can find her at www.patriciawfischer.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Be sure to check out her books!

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

Judging a Book by its Cover

“Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike — it’s a good binding, you see — and I thought they’d be all good books. . . . but they’ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one musn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzling world.”
–George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

perf5.000x8.000.inddMarin here, and today I’m thinking about the puzzling world of book covers. Recently I worked with a cover artist–the very talented Rae Monet–to create the cover for my third book.

A cover’s primary purpose, of course, is to convince the reader to buy the book behind it. A great cover not only entices the reader, but captures the story in some way.  Cover artist Peter Mendelsund says “his job is ‘finding that unique textual detail that…can support the metaphoric weight of the entire book.’”   But beyond that, a cover needs to represent the book. The mood of the cover should match that of the book–a couple in a clinch for a romance, something dark and eerie for a paranormal, an illustration for a children’s book. Even things like font matter–you see the font that was used on the Harry Potter books, and you recognize it immediately.  The cover, according to Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, should be a promise to the reader. A promise that the book is as professional as its cover, that it is of the genre depicted by the cover, and that you will enjoy reading it.

There are plenty of sites out there which discuss the elements that make a great cover, and I list a few of them below. But as one of them points out, what really makes a great cover is what makes you purchase the book. I tend to like covers that are more abstract, that hint at the character of the book without revealing too much. Here are some of my favorites (click on the covers to visit the book’s Goodreads entry):

Deanna Raybourn was new to me, and I picked up her book in the library almost entirely because of the cover. The others are authors I know and like and would have read anyway. All of these covers evoke their stories and the genre. I think Julia Quinn’s cover must have worked quite well, because she has used a variation of it at least twice since then…

I asked my fellow Passionate Critters what they like, and don’t like, in a cover:

“I tend to gravitate toward books with real people on the covers. I tend to like couples too. I like feet/legs too–or just bodies with no heads–so I can get the gist of the romance while leaving something to my imagination.”

“I like illustrated covers, too, if they’re well done and not drawn by the author themselves. Actually…it’s easier to say what DOESN’T work. Go here to see some samples: http://lousybookcovers.com/.”

“I like a simple cover which conveys the mood or feel of the story that I’m buying.”

“I’ve always liked Kristan Higgins’ covers. You see a couple but not too much of their faces.”

“I’m the opposite of the others, I love faces.  At least the guy’s face, I’m OK with the back of the girl’s head.  Clinch covers work for me as well.  I want a sense of the time period, what the characters look like, and the overall mood of the book.  From the cover I should easily be able to tell if it’s a romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, as well as what era it’s set in, and a decent idea of what the main character, or characters, look like.  I also like to get a sense of who the characters are, is it a brooding alpha male?  Throw him in a tux and make him look angry….or heated…or both.  Character looks are huge for me, especially for the male, and nothing irks me more than grabbing a good book and then having the guy be described as someone I don’t find even remotely attractive.  It kills the whole thing for me.”

“I don’t honestly know.  Some are clearly just bad or rather lousy, but they don’t count.
But of good, well-done covers, where there’s nothing actually wrong with them…hmmm. There’s no type that appeals to me – some just look…right.
I think it’s sort of subjective to a degree – flowers and a wedding dress would put me off, because it screams sweet and I don’t particularly like sweet.
My favorite sort of covers are UF [urban fantasy], which always seem to be very distinctive of the genre, usually a beautiful background, a strong character (all of them, they never seem to have their heads chopped off) often a woman, and a few swirly bits to pretty them up.
I think it’s an arty thing (which is why I struggle) just getting the proportions and colors right and pleasing to the eye.”

“I like real people, faces, and even a bit of setting. I like to see the story. I don’t like the drawn covers–like chick lit has. And don’t get me started on the computer graphics that….are just…not real looking. LOL  But that’s just me.
I don’t like chopped off heads or flowers or wedding dresses or babies.  I don’t know what that says about me.
Oh, I also don’t like floating heads…over cities and stuff.”

Clearly, we all like different things, which only goes to show that you’ll never please everyone, no matter how brilliant your cover may be. What stands out for you in a book cover? Share your favorite!

Some other takes on what makes a great book cover:

https://selfpublishingadvisor.com/2016/08/10/the-book-beautiful-the-cover/
https://springfieldwritersguild.org/2016/08/11/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/
https://www.wired.com/2014/09/makes-brilliant-book-cover-master-explains
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/book-cover-design-indies_n_3354504.html
http://www.graphic-design.com/DTG/Design/book_covers/index.html
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/designing-book-covers/
http://www.iuniverse.com/Resources/Publishing-Distribution/CoverDesignEssentials.aspx

 

 

About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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