Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cover Me

By Jay Stringer

It seems like I'm spending a lot of time lately echoing the sentiments of our very own Joelle. Though we write with different voices, I have long thought we seem to have similar instincts as writers. Recently she talked of the difference between being a writer and an author. The transformation that takes place as your words on a page come closer to being a product that others will spend money on.

The last few months has seen me learning all of this for the first time; publisher conference calls, line edits, copy edits, release dates (oh, we have a release date, did I not tell you?) and cover treatments.

As a writer, I know what I want. I have instincts, and I have a growing understanding of craft -something we will only ever be learning, never mastering- and they help me to know what I want on the page. I know what I want to say, and I have an increasing idea of how I want to say it. But as an author, I'm learning there's a lot I don't really think of about my own work.

One of the first things to happen is the publisher will ask you to fill in some kind of form, something that will be passed on to the promotional team and the art department, in which you lay out what you feel your book is about and what you'd like the cover to be. That document is essentially a passport application form for your book's future identity. What I learned was this; I suck at that. World's best Agent could attest to this. I can't sum up my book. I told the joke at the time that, "if I could sum up my book in two sentences, I wouldn't have written the book." And for me as a writer, that's totally valid. For me as an author, that's something I need to learn.

And the other aspect that caught me by surprise was the Cover art. It wasn't until I had people from a publishers asking me what kind of cover I wanted that I gave any thought at all to the idea that OLD GOLD would have a cover. The book is the characters, their emotions, their challenges and their desires. Never did I think about what package that would be in. As an author, these are things you need to be thinking of when you have those conversations.

You need to have an identity in mind for the book.

1 comment:

Joelle Charbonneau said...

The whole "what do you want your cover to look like" question is a tough one for me. One I'm glad I don't really have much of a say in. When I got my first Skating cover I admit I looked at it and went - Huh...not what I thought it was going to be. Then I realized I didn't KNOW what I really thought it would be. Perhaps, like you, I think about the characters and the action and the tone...not the brand. And a cover - especially a cover that is the first of a series of books - BRANDS the series. While I understand branding and whatnot, I'm glad I'm not the one in charge of it.

Welcome to the wonderful world of author questionaires, copyedits, page proofs and hundreds of other things that take up your time and have nothing to do with putting words on the page!