From Writer Unboxed:
The following is a writerly public service announcement.
Or maybe it’s more like a report from the publishing trenches. No need to panic; there’s nothing here that amounts to an emergency, in the greater scheme. But my recent experience with my debut has taught me that Murphy’s Law holds sway over publishing. In case it’s somehow slipped your mind, Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And in the complex process of publishing a book, there are a great many things that can go wrong. Any one of those things can either trigger other issues, or adversely affect other steps to the process. Or both.
Allow me to provide a few examples—you know, in the interest of writerly public service.
Several of you have inquired about my cover, and the process of creating it. I really wanted a cover I could be proud of—one that would reflect the perseverance and the toil that went into bringing this story to the page. Which made me willing to invest in creating something special.
The story of my cover actually began in March of 2021. In spite of finding appeal in the graphic covers that are popular these days, I knew I wanted a painted look. So I started by scoping out painted epic fantasy covers that I love and the artists that created them. A handful of artists kept coming up, and from those I picked a favorite. I reached out to my choice, whom I won’t name to protect their privacy, and they agreed to paint my cover. After several months, due to health reasons this artist asked for an extension, and I pushed the release date I’d had in mind (for the fall of ’21). Late in the fall, due to their workload with Big Five publishers and lingering health issues, the artist conveyed that something had to give. Of course I immediately released them from our contract, and the artist aided me in my search for a replacement.
Which brings us to March of this year, and my chosen replacement. I had already noted John Anthony Di Giovanni’s work, particularly the pieces he created for Joe Abercrombie’s Age of Madness trilogy. I love the series and thought that John’s work perfectly captured the atmosphere of the story and it’s world. John happened to be on my first artist’s short list for their replacement. In my initial contact with John, he very kindly conveyed his regrets; he was just too busy to fit my cover in to his tight schedule, but he would be happy to add me to his 2023 schedule.
Folks, I had already waited a year and missed my initial timeline for release. Add to that my growing feeling that providence had brought John and I together. I was smitten by his work. I could perfectly imagine him capturing my story-world and characters. It made me stubborn. I persisted and convinced John to squeeze me in (demonstrating my complicity in what followed). Together we agreed on a slot for the painting of my cover that fit both of our calendars. John read the manuscript right away, came up with a series of sketches, from which we chose the scene we both felt best captured the atmosphere and even conveyed a sense of the story’s themes and symbolism. By the start of summer things were clicking along like clockwork.
Until they weren’t. Due to a series of unforeseen setbacks, none of which was anyone’s fault, August came and went. John was making solid progress, but nowhere near done. I pushed my release day twice, but stubbornly dug my heels in to keep it in October. Since I didn’t want to have my book land during Halloween hoopla, I stuck with the 18th (another example of my complicity).
The (very) good news is, the cover is gorgeous! Definitely worth the wait. I couldn’t be happier with it. The less desirable side-effect was that the cover painting’s delayed arrival left us with a mere few weeks to get about a hundred publishing ducks into a row. Two of those ducks happened to be massive and less than cooperative birds (water “foul”?). Which brings me to my next example of Mr. Murphy’s implacable principle.
Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed
PG was immediately reminded of an aphorism:
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
The purpose of a cover is to attract a prospective reader’s eye and cause a potential purchaser to either click on the cover image or, in a physical bookstore, if the book isn’t shelved so the cover can’t be seen, the cover does nothing.
If the cover can be seen in a bookstore or if something, likely the author’s name or book’s title on the spine, causes a prospective purchaser to pull the book out to examine, PG supposes that a really terrible cover could cause a prospect to reshelve it, but, at that point, the prospective purchaser is likely to at least open the book and examine the interior or check the blurbs on the back.
PG doesn’t know the author of the OP, but expects he is a very nice man (he did self-publish the book in question), but gently suggests that he may be overthinking the importance of the absolutely perfect cover that exists in his mind that transfers to the perfect cover artist is vital to the success or failure of his book.
Further along in the OP, the author describes using Ingram Spark for all his trade paper books because they’re known for their wonderful cover printing and non-Amazon online and offline bookstores get along fine with Ingram. Ingram assured him that they got along just fine with Amazon. Unfortunately there were problems getting his Ingram paperbacks on Amazon because Ingram and Amazon don’t actually like each other.
PG is not in a position to determine which of the two companies, or maybe both, is right/wrong, jerk/non-jerk, etc., but points out that a book with a perfectly printed cover on Amazon will certainly look different on everybody’s computer/tablet/smartphone screen than the one the artist created or that Ingram printed.
PG thinks it’s a worthy goal to want to delight a hard copy reader with a beautiful cover for a book the reader purchased online, but will a perfectly-designed and perfectly-printed cover make a reader like the book more than a good cover? If yes, how many readers like that are there in the book-buying public? They bought the book online while examining the online version of the cover on their iPhone for how long?
PG has ridden his hobby horse for so long, he’s saddle-sore, so he will stop. He’s happy to put this author’s cover up for all the visitors to TPV to enjoy and is likely to read the ebook version himself.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, PG urges you to not judge a book by it’s cover and read some of the sample pages of Mr. Roycroft’s book.
PG just did some looking and discovered this is Mr. Roycroft’s only book listed for sale on Amazon.
If this is his first book, PG apologizes for being so hard on a first-time author. As he wrote previously, PG is likely to read the ebook version and will mention that it’s available through Kindle Unlimited if visitors to TPV wish to give it a try.
Note to visitors: PG is still recovering from his intimate encounter with an escalator a few days ago. He has a row of 2 inch long gouges across the top of his head and may not be in his right mind.
Note to Mr. Roycroft: I just looked at your sample chapters and downloaded your ebook. I expect to enjoy it.