Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Judging a Book by its Cover

A couple days ago Cara asked a question about the length of manuscripts these days. “Are publishers looking for shorter books? 80K rather than 100K?”

I think in general they are. 80K might be considered short, but it depends on how you write. (For example, my writing tends to be very tight, with dropped words and such, so my word count is under what someone might guess.) Generally, I think an 85K-90K manuscript this day is considered good. Especially for a first-time author.

Now for today’s topic. Well, well, guess what. Recently I had a phone meeting with the marketing person at Zondervan. She informed me that the cover to Violet Dawn had seen a change. Change? It was supposed to be a done deal. Those cool branches through my name. The violet colors. The water.

The snake.

Guess what got nixed.

Seems the serpent was thought a little too spooky for some. Who? you might ask. Answer—not the Christian markets. The general ones. Z’s sales people for places such as B&N, Costco, WalMart and the like said it should go. Meanwhile the sales folk for the mom and pop Christian independents said nothing.

What’s this world coming to?

The final cover is a “big book look,” according to Z’s marketing guru. It is nice. Great colors. And I still love the branches through the name thing. But I kinda miss ol’ Slither Face. It does make me wonder about the Hidden Faces covers and their spookiness. How’d we get away with that for the past four books?

You can see the final result for Violet Dawn


eileen said...

Gorgeous cover; still spooky with the branches catching your name. Hurry! Can't wait for the next seatbelt suspense fix.

C.J. Darlington said...

Aw, Slither Face was a nice touch. Oh, well. Guess those marketing folk know what they're doing.

Gina Holmes said...

Snake or no snake, that's a beautiful cover!

Karen Wevick said...

Beautiful cover. I do miss the touch of the snake, but if you never knew it was there, you wouldn't miss it.

On Web of Lies - I had to go back and read it a second time, more slowly than the first, to really appreciate the writing and the melding for first and third person POV. It's an absolutely great book and even though I knew who the villain was the second time around, the book was still great and I think I enjoyed it even more. Now that's a good book.
God Bless

Stuart said...

Can't fool me! that snake just drew back into hiding in the branches just above the T! Waiting for me to let my guard down so it can jump off the cover and yell BOO!

Still a cool cover. :)

Domino said...

Lovely cover, Brandilyn.

I have to agree with Stuart. Snakes do love to hide. Readers that never saw the snake will enjoy the book. Readers who have seen the snake will enjoy the book AND take a closer look at the cover ...looking for two beady eyes... wondering...

Lynette Sowell said...

I still like it.

I guess some people are creeped out by snakes. But not eyes or spider webs. Hmmm...

But that's okay. We BGs will all *know* the snake is still there even if we can't see it. Stuart has the right idea. Consider that the 'rest of the story.'

Becky said...

I think the Violet Dawn cover is bound to attract attention. Very nice.

So interesting that it was the ABA outlets that nixed the snake.

But I didn't even know they would see the cover before it was all ready for the shelves. Learn something every day.

Add to my learning--ABA stores are as much "gatekeepers" as CBA stores.

Now why would these ABA'er want the snake gone??? It's a suspense book after all. Orrrr, are they thinking, because they shelf it with religious, that the buyers of religious fiction would not like it. Hmmmm.

Lori Benton said...

Beautiful cover. I never saw the one with the snake. I think it's wonderful as is.

On the subject of manuscript lengths... what about us writers who write Big Fat Historicals? Before I wrote them, I read them, and am still inclined to pick up a book 500-1000 pages long over one that's 200 or 300 pages long. As a reader, I revel in the complexity of world-building (I don't mean fantasy, but historical world building). Do you see a market for l-o-n-g historicals in CBA?


johnny dangerous said...

I had no say at all in my book covers. Since a cover is a marketing tool above all, the marketing people made all decisions. I liked the first book's cover (The Throne of Tara, Crossway) and disliked the second book's cover very much (Relics, Thomas Nelson) since it looked like a romance novel. The German translations' covers were much better. When the first book went out of print I had it re-issued via iuniverse, and they asked me for cover suggestions. It turned out fine.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Me too, I picture Slither hiding in the branches. It's still an awesome cover!

Camy Tang said...

Aw, I miss the SNAKE!!!! I don't exactly hate the cover, but I MISS THE SNAKE! The violet colors are really cool, but...yeah.