Because I'm immersed in the release of my new novel I thought I'd share some insights over the next month on the book-publishing process AND HOW CHALLENGING IT CAN BE FOR AUTHORS. Today let's look at book covers.
Okay, my first novel, Househusband, was about a guy who decides to stay home to take care of his daughter (yeah, that's me), and he does it really well ... out-cooking, out-cleaning and out-parenting all the moms in the neighborhood. (yeah, that's me) Well, the sequel, Man of the House, is about this same guy, named Linc Menner, who after 15 years of doing the mom thing rebels in a huge way and goes on a tear to reclaim his inner male. (yeah, that's me, and yeah, it's a comedy)
So you can imagine how surprised I was when I got this for the book cover of Man of the House.
Ad to Editor: Okay, this is ALL WRONG! The book is about Linc Menner NOT doing the laundry anymore; it's about Linc Menner learning how to shoot guns and use a hammer drill. AND I SAID 'GUY', NOT 'GAY!' And what's with all the perfectly-folded pastel-colored clothes? No!!!! They should be a MESS! Didn't the editors at Big New York Publishing House even read this book!?!?!?! (Disclaimer: There has been huge turnover in publishing lately, and Man of the House has actually had four different editors...which means the editor who bought it left long ago, and the book got dumped on some other poor, overworked soul.)
So they tried it again, and came up with this:
Ad: WTF!?!?!? Linc is working construction now. This guy's hands haven't seen sunshine or dirt in their lives! And look at the typeface: It looks like it should say "Breakfast at Tiffany's," not "Man of the House."
So they tried again and came up with this:
Okay, SOME improvement here. At least this guy has hair on his legs. But where are the tools? Where are the man toys? I finally talked with a senior-level editor, who asked me what I wanted. I told her: Toolbox. Darker, bolder, boy-like colors. "Oh, hell, just photo-shop a hammer hanging over the edge of the laundry basket." And they came up with this:
But the FONT, I whined. Look at that curly font. What's that all about? Why do you insist on making this look like marketing materials for a day spa? And, finally, after several weeks of Ad Torture, the art director finally agreed to change to this:
So that's what we have, folks. Not a perfect cover by any means, and it still really doesn't portray the content of the book, but it's better than what we started with. You can tell that they also punched up the palette a bit; the colors are bolder. And, I may be mistaken here, but I think they put more hair on his legs. (Ain't digital manipulation grand?) And I have to admit that I do like the Clint Eastwood-inspired line they added in the upper left-hand corner: "Go ahead, make my bed."
Oh, and one more thing: At first they had my fun "banana photo" as the author's photo on the back cover:
And then some senior editor decided that it would SCARE WOMEN AWAY. Honestly, that's what they told me. I tried not to take it personally. I thought the photo was funny, but that wasn't their impression. (You need to know here that every single editor I've had at Big New York Publishing House (four books in all) has been a woman, and I can't help but wonder if some gender diversity might help matters)
GIN COUNT for 9-17-08: Only one 3-ounce gin-and-tonic ... and I didn't have it until 7:30!!!