Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Got You Covered!

One surprising thing – to beginning writers – about being published is that the author doesn’t get to choose the cover. Once in a great while, after having several books published, an editor will ask an author if he or she has any suggestions for the cover. Once in an even greater while, the idea the author has will influence the cover.

The usual thing is that, as the book begins the publishing process the author will receive, in the mail or via e-mail, the “cover art,” a more-than-rough-sketch. The author’s reaction can range from “Arrrrggghhh!” to “Wow, that’s great!”

I had a good friend who wrote science fiction, and who was achieving considerable success, who was sent the cover art for her next book. She was startled when it featured a scantily-clad, well-endowed woman, because her book was about a world populated by beings who resembled bears. She remarked that very likely there was a sci-fi author out there somewhere who couldn’t understand why his well-endowed humanoid heroine was portrayed on his cover as ursine.

My first mystery series, written as Mary Monica Pulver, featured a police detective whose wife raised and bred Arabian horses. Of the five books, four featured a horse on the cover. Though the covers were attractive, in none of them was the horse an Arab.

The one cover that didn’t have a horse on it, did have another problem. The story is set at the Great Pennsic War, a Society for Creative Anachronism annual event. Rather than just describing what the event looks like, we sent the publisher some photographs. To our amazement, the cover art was taken from one of the photographs and the people on it were clearly recognizable. We had to make some hasty phone calls to warn the people involved and see if they objected. Fortunately, they didn’t.

I think all of the covers of my Betsy Devonshire mysteries are very attractive, even eye-catching – which, of course, is the idea. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with Threadbare.


lilmonkeysmom85 said...

That's kinda stinks. I always thought that the author got to cover the book considering they wrote the whole thing.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I've always been so fortunate with my covers, Monica, even though, as you said, I get no input. I've loved every one in the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series, and my cover for BEAGLEMANIA, the first in my Pet Rescue Mystery Series, is adorable and really fits the story.

Betty Hechtman said...

I have a number of writer friends who get very upset about their covers because either they feature things not in their books or give away too much.

I think the covers give a feeling of what kind of book it is, but I don't think readers examine the covers the same way my writer friends do.

I feel very lucky that I have loved all of my covers.

Monica Ferris said...

I think you're right, Betty. Though I remember back when I was a big fan of John D. MacDonald's thrillers, it was a bit embarrassing to bring the book to checkout, as it generally featured a curvy beauty in a bikini.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, they'll do your book cover justice.

Slight change of subject -- have you considered doing a story involving Betsy's first husband (the one she met while both of them were in the Navy)? Just curious.