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What’s that they told you about a book & a cover?

Often at conventions themes start to reoccur across panels. It’s a product of common participants and topics that are closely related. At FiestaCon I’d say one of those themes was the pitfalls of being desperate to publish. And sometimes it’s hard not to be desperate.

I’m not a gambler. If you give me $5 and tell me you’ll give me double or nothing if five blue cars pass by my window in the next five minutes, I’ll take the fiver and have a nice lunch at Taco Bell. I’m low risk all the way. Except when it comes to my chosen career. Writing is a somewhere between roulette and a long con. You can jimmy your odds, but you have to be very patient to make it pay off. I’ve been working with varying degrees of intensity for over ten years now. While my first novel is being published in September, the last five years have been dedicated to a multi-book project. It’s a great project, a beautiful project, but I have no *guarantee* that I’ll get paid for the last five years of work. How many people would work for five years on the belief that one day they’ll get paid? Of course, money’s not the only thing. Let’s say you’re a lawyer. You have a degree in law, but you only sit at home and argue cases hypothetically. In the eyes of others, how much respect would you be given as a professional? While most writers contend that they write for themselves, publication is the next step to being considered a professional.

Again and again at FiestaCon, authors were warned against being desperate to publish. Don’t pay to have you book published, or “marketed,” or edited. If you’ve managed to catch an editor’s eye, be prepared to walk if the editorial changes are not within your view of your book. Because, it’s your name on the cover. And despite the old adage, the cover matters. The cover is the first communication that the author has with the reader. Ironically, the cover is possibly the thing the author has the least influence in choosing.

Which brings me, round about, to two articles that went around my corner of the internet this past week:

Ainโ€™t That a Shame | Justine Larbalestier
What happens when you love your publisher, but they’ve saddled you with a cover that is totally misleading? We’re not just talking details being wrong, we’re talking a cover that could produce a complete misreading of your book. How do you take your novel and “walk” then?

And then there’s this:
Adventures in Book Marketing with Simon Kernick’s DEADLINE
Having someone else’s name on novels for marketing purposes isn’t new. There’s the blurb. There’s the “Presents”. There’s writing within another author’s universe. But this takes it to a whole new level. This is someone else’s name on half your cover. Regardless of whether it’s misleading or how much better sales are going to be, I’m not sure I’d feel right about that. Kernick isn’t a new author. Would it be different if he were?