Friday, February 16, 2007

Taking Covers into Your Own Hands.

I gotta admire James Bernard Frost, author of the newly published World Leader Pretend.

He fought the Law (i.e. his Publisher) over the World Leader Pretend's cover design.

And when the Law (i.e. his Publisher) won, he didn't give up. He created his own cover, viz. a sticker to stick over the offending artwork.

Now he has a (probably) very annoyed Publisher but lots and lots of publicity.

Only time will tell with will prove more essential, but I do know that he has sold a copy of the book AND the sticker to me. Good on him for standing up for himself.

It's interesting that one of Sieur Frost's issues with the cover design of the book is that it makes the book look like a SF novel, when in actuality the novel is about a guy who plays online fantasy role playing games. A book about a fantasy gamer is not the same thing as an SF novel, but apparently the Publisher decided that only people who read SF would want to read a novel about a gamer.

A dear friend of mine had exactly the same cover issue several years ago when he published a brilliant novel about a young man's slow psychological breakdown. This young man was also a gamer and segments of the novel took place within the game itself. Despite the gamer element, the novel was not SF. It was a psychological thriller. However, the Publisher slapped a SF cover on the book, and threw it in the SF section of the bookstore where it died a lonely and unjustified death. Do Publishers think the stink of genre is so strong that even a whiff it requires the book be quarantined with its fellow stinkers? Apparently so.

I hope that Sieur Frost's book escapes the dicey fate of my friend's book, but I can't imagine that his publisher is going to do much PR for him now.

Or maybe they are delighted at the extra ink he's getting.

As another friend of mine said recently, publishing is a capricious world.

So I am learning.


bigdumbjim said...


This is James Bernard Frost, the author of World Leader Pretend. I saw your letter to Galley Cat. I have to say Paul's hardback cover was even more tragic.

In answer to your wonderings about how the publisher is responding: They're being somewhat two-faced about. I got a dressing-down from my new editor (my initial editor left, which is one of the reasons I felt freed up enough to do this), and the publicist is p____d, but when I offered to forget about the stickers altogether they said, "oh no, don't do that..." I think they know the stickers are good, but they somehow want to divorce it from the reasons why I had to create it in the first place...

The truth about the cover is that I just can't go out in public with the God-awful thing. I feel like I'm wearing a tutu. So it was either let the book die, or do something about it.

Ysabeau Wilce said...

Sieur: Good for you being pro-active--you've had the nerve to go out and do what many writers long to do, but dare not! Huzza! I'm sure that the PR people are conflicted--they can't hate the publicity, even if it comes at their own expense. So, I'm not surprised they're waffling. I had actually been thinking of doing something similar for my book--not because I hate the cover or anything--but just as a sort of Special Added Limited Edition thingy. Doing another dust jacket that I could give out via raffles, or as an added bonus at signings; I wouldn't be making it wildly available. No matter how great your cover art turns out to be, I think all writers have a secret idea of what they'd like their jacket to look like, and rarely does that vision coincide with the art department's vision. But your case was certainly egregious! I've ordered a copy of the book, and I look forward to reading it! Good Luck!