Thursday, January 31, 2019

Dear O'Abby, I Hate My Cover...

Dear O'Abby,

My debut novel is about to be published and I've been super excited about it.  Then today, I got sent my cover art from my publisher and I hate it.  It's nothing like the way I imagined the book would look, and makes it look like it's something totally different to the book I wrote.

What do I do?  I don't want to ruin my relationship with the publisher, but I also really don't want my book going out in the world with that cover.

Best wishes,


Dear Uncovered,

I feel your pain.  I recently had exactly the same experience with my new book.

How you deal with this depends very much on who your publisher is.  If you're with a 'big-five' publisher, you will probably have less say in what the cover looks like than if you're with a small press.  But it's important you speak up.  Don't just roll with something you hate because you feel like it's rude to complain.

If you have an agent, speak to her in the first instance.  She is there to advocate for you and have those tricky conversations with the publisher on your behalf.  Outline your concerns and explain the reasons why you feel the cover is wrong.  It may even be helpful to send a few images of covers from books like yours that you do like as examples of the kind of look and feel you wanted for the cover.

If you are unagented, you will have to do this for yourself.  Reply to the publisher thanking them for sharing the artwork.  Then outline the problems you see with it, and again, maybe send some examples of covers you like that are on books similar to yours.

If you're lucky, the publisher will take this on board and try something different.  The first cover my publisher sent for my new book made it look like a historical novel, possible with some supernatural elements.  It was very pretty, but pretty wasn't right for my dark, dirty sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll novel.  So I did exactly the above, including examples, and ended up with a cover that I love and perfectly suits the novel.

So it's worth having that conversation.  Even if it is difficult.  Publishers don't always get things right.

Good luck!

And please share your cover when you get one you're happy with.  We'd love to see it.

X O'Abby


Sara Codair said...

I went back and forth with my small publisher for a few drafts of my cover, and it worked out fine. From the other side, I am the cover artist for an even smaller publisher. I go through multiple drafts with anthology editors and authors.

Roland Clarke said...

I feel that O'Abby's reply is sound and the way to go. I had a similar experience with my debut novel as I wanted snow on the cover plus hoof-prints. The small press went for something that looked more like sand. It didn't matter too much as sand worked too for the story. For the self-published second edition, I went for a different image entirely. Recently, a reviewer said the small press cover was far better as did her readers. Can't win. lol