Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG: You Can’t Always Get What You Want – But you can ask!


Nothing sells a book like its cover. It’s that first impression. If you self-publish, you can pick what represents your work. But if you write for a publisher, you’re sometimes stuck with that ugly baby. I’ve had an ugly baby a time or two in my career – ah, yes, that poor attempt to doctor the wrong hair color that turned it neon, the short hero who somehow grew a foot and added 150 pounds of creepy bulk, my modest, flat-chested heroine who ended up sprawled on the grass under the hero with her nearly non-existed bodice spilling forth ginormous endowments. Sigh.

My new reissue, MIDNIGHT KISS has one of those baby stories. When originally released in the mid-‘90s, I was shocked to see my hero represented with long black hair and a green-gray complexion. Who was this guy? Bookstores shelved it in horror instead of romance! After struggling 15-years to get the rights back, I was so excited to see it’s all new look as the first book in my “Touched by Midnight” series being rereleased, a book per month, with all new covers to an all new audience. (Squee!) But when I saw it, I didn’t know what to think. It wasn’t ugly. I didn’t hate it. It was pretty. But it was just . . . wrong. It didn’t represent my story - no paranormal elements, no hint of danger or suspense, no historical feel. (No, it had nothing to do with the fact that she looked like Kim Kardashian!) It just didn’t scream sexy, Regency-set, vampire romance.

Because this book would set the bar for those that followed in look and feel, I took a deep breath, and e-mailed my editor, citing my issues with it and asked if there was any chance it could be changed, knowing it could be too late. (Actually, it had already been released!) Another cover mock up quickly arrived, totally different in tone and approach. Yes! Then my critical eye noted how young the hero looked, a little too weak to carry two more books. We phone conferenced. After I apologized for being a fussy author, to which she replied that’s why she liked working with authors, we tossed around ideas and she solved matter by saying, “Off with his head!” (or at least part of it) to find a happy medium. Here’s the cover progression. Which do you like better?



Be careful what you ask for . . . you might get it! Once we solved the cover crisis, my editor suggested I might like to pick the cover models and back grounds for the other eight books. YES! my OCD soul shouted. The thrill wore off after three days hunched over my lap top viewing thousands of bare torsos. But I found what I wanted. I can so totally hear my mother saying, “You won’t know unless you ask.” The moral: Listen to your mother. You won’t know unless you ask, whether its title, cover, edits, ad co-ops, bigger advance, favorite author quote, promo spots, blog tours. They may say no, but they won’t have a chance to say yes unless you ask. Nicely.

Here’s a peek at MIDNIGHT KISS, now available in all e-formats, soon to appear in trade paperback:





“Dark and compelling, Gideon's novel will appeal to those who enjoy the vampire novels of Anne Rice.” —Library Journal

“A colorful and hauntingly beautiful tale of otherworldly love . . . destined to become a classic!”—Affaire de Coeur

“Incredible, spellbinding reading!” —Rendezvous

Hunt or be hunted . . . A centuries old obsession stalks a noble family fighting to hide their dark secret from an ever-changing world. Sink your teeth into Nancy Gideon's Touched by Midnight series.

A DARK CURSE
Miss Arabella Howland is content forgo the London marriage mill to assist her father in his research, especially when it comes to his intriguing patient, Louis Radman. But it’s not long before Bella’s curiosity alerts her to the danger of her father’s work . . . and to the fact that Louis is not who or whathe seems.

A BRIGHT PROMISE
After centuries struggling with his vile existence, Louis Radman will soon be free of his affliction, thanks to his very capable physician. Unfortunately, his heart is less secure around the man’s tempting daughter. His yearning to walk in the light once more is complicated by his desire for the delightful Bella, who is as intelligent as she is fearless. But if history has taught him anything, it’s not to tempt fate.

AN UNFORGIVING PAST
Still, happiness has a price and Louis is soon reminded that mortality comes with unfortunate limitations. To protect his new bride, he must face the demons from his past who wish to pull him back into their vampiric fold.

Yet, if he’s forced to return to his midnight world, will he lose his beloved Bella forever?

What have you gotten because you’ve asked for it that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

I’m excited to be one of this month’s IWSG co-hosts!!



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!


Twitter hashtag is #IWSG 

IWSG awesome co-hosts for the August 5th posting will be Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia!
 

83 comments:

  1. Well, getting a NO is the worst that could happen. It only gets better from there. Its good that you asserted yourself, and that your agent was receptive. A great working relationship we all hope for.

    Congrats on the re-release. And thanks for co-hosting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a good editor or agent relationship is like a marriage!

      Delete
  2. You never know until you try! Well done for going back and then going back again - definitely the best result.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think the new cover is much better! (Yes, the first one looks a bit dated now.) I usually don't like to see body parts cut off, but it works so much better without his head. Perhaps there is some preying mantis in you...?
    Thanks again for co-hosting this month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Alex! You're welcome! Had a wonderful time. I highly recommend it!

      Delete
  4. I love the last one. Good eye!

    I agree. Slogging through stock images is a pain. Some sites have better search features than others. That helps, but not much.

    Thanks for co-hosting. :)
    IWSG #119 until Alex culls the list again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. definitely!
    don't ask and you shall not receieve, most likely!
    great post and awesome covers! congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You were right to ask - must have been a little daunting though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a comfortable relationship with the editor helped. Some would just tell you they have no control over it and to suck it up. I've done plenty of sucking it up!

      Delete
  7. Good thing you asked. I do like the new one!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. The new cover is perfect. I had an awful cover for One Red Shoe. It made my light romantic suspense look like it was a scary, vampire (no offense) thriller. I asked and (as you did) sat hunched over the computer looking at images for hours. I love the new cover. As you say, it can't hurt to ask.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops. Almost forgot. Thanks for being a co-host this month!

      Delete
    2. I remember my first thought of ORS when you showed it to me - EEEK! NOOOOO!

      Delete
  9. Hi,
    The cover with half of his head missing is great. I like it. Looking at the cover caught my interest and made me curious about the book. Also you have given some very good advice. One word, ASK. It doesn't hurt to ask.
    I don't usually read this genre but I am going to read this book to see if I like it.
    All the best with your re-releasing of your series.

    Shalom,
    Pat Garcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pat! Hope I can make you into a convert!

      Delete
  10. What an inspiring post. I think we all believe our publisher is a god and whatever she says goes. I'm going to ask about changing my books covers now too. You've given me courage!! I really like the edgy look and feel of the third cover. Thanks for co-hosting today. Best wishes on your re-release of your new series!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Covers! Ye Gods! Yup, I relate SO much to this post, Nancy! I think, with most trad publishers, the art people don't read the book before doing the cover. That's the ONLY explanation that makes sense to me. The cover for my last book (no. 8) is beautiful. It does absolutely nothing to sell the book to the right audience though! I am so frustrated. Thanks for letting me vent here, in kind company :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nor do the art people LOOK at the art fact sheets you labor over for days so they know exactly what to put on it! Sigh . . . (I must clarify - make that SOME art people. I've worked with some awesome art departments . . . and a lot of totally indifferent ones. Actually I've had them give me the same cover they'd prepared for another book that was withdrawn from the schedule!)

      Delete
  12. As you already know, I love the new cover! And what a great touch adding the rose! Thanks for co-hosting this month, Nancy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I insisted on the rose because it ties all the covers together for the series. They really stepped up to the plate for me!

      Delete
  13. I totally know what you mean. I'm pretty picky too and had to take things into my own hands and sent several rough mock-ups of what I like. For book 2, one of my mock-ups became the basis for the cover. Talk about flattery. It's true, you never know what you'll get if you're only brave enough to ask.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, it sounds like you have a pretty good editor if they're that willing to work with you on this. Congratulations on the upcoming release. And thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Ken (enjoyed your post!).

      Delete
  15. Thanks for co-hosting, Nancy. You don't look old enough to have published in the 90s. I agree with the rest, you had a force behind you. And they knew they had a winner in you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, bless you, Joylene! Actually I started out in the mid-'80s! Yes, I was a romance '80s Lady. I have good skin (and after all those books, very thick skin!).

      Delete
  16. That second cover is pretty, but I'm glad you were able to work with the publisher to get what you wanted. I also asked my editor to pick my own pictures for my short story covers and they said yes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congrats and thanks for co-hosting. I'mean glad that you have an editor who worked together with you to create a cover you were happy with. Ask and you shall receive.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for sharing your cover woes. I laughed out loud when you said the first Midnight's Kiss was shelved in horror--oh my gosh! We can laugh now, right? I like the new cover. It's so cool that you are able to re-release.

    Here is my August IWSG post. It's the second post on my blog today because my Pitch Wars mentor bio needs to stay at the top. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great post, Steph! I remember the first time I was asked to describe what my book was about and I froze. It was at an editor appointment. Lesson learned. Get your pitch down pat! Pitch Wars sounds like a fab platform.

      Delete
  19. I'm chuckling - though it might sounds more like crying - because I've experienced similar cover woes myself. The picky author who has three versions of a book cover (and I was THRILLED they indulged me so long) and the author who spent hours looking for her heroine when the cover artist said, "I'm having no luck. Why don't you look." Yes, be careful what you ask for, but be grateful when you get it, right? Love the new cover, btw. Thanks for hosting this month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Kai! Yes, there are 'rewards' for being picky. Glad you took the chance . . . and the time.

      Delete
  20. "Off with his head!" I love that. Oh, getting the cover right takes time and I recently went back and forth with one of my covers. The designer was so patient. Love the final cover and it sounds like a great read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my critique partners does a lot of my graphic work and she a saint for putting up with me. My VA is a dream, too.

      Delete
  21. What a story--about the cover. You wonder what the publisher was thinking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably OMG! I've got an hour to come up with a cover! They were understaffed at the time and everyone was doing double duty. 20 years ago I probably would have been thrilled and said nothing. I'm just cranky in my old age.

      Delete
  22. Covers are everything and so difficult to get right. Having some say in the matter sounds great, but it can be quite taxing. Congrats on the better choices and thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love, 'listen to your mother.' I have at least one really bad cover but my current publisher usually does a pretty good job.
    Susan Says

    ReplyDelete
  24. Cover are so important and it does help if the author likes their cover. (Not always the case.) I like the cover that was selected. By only showing part of the guy's face, the reader can form their own image of him in their minds. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Congrats on the rerelease and getting the cover adjusted! Looks like something I'd read :) I've never had to ask for something like this, but it's good to know I can.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for co-hosting today.
    I got my first reviews simply by asking for them. It was a shock how many were interested but hadn't expressed so simply because I hadn't put it out there.
    Love the new cover and thoroghly enjoyed your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was stunned to get some NYT bestseller quote for my covers - by asking. Fortune favors the bold!

      Delete
  27. Great final cover, Nancy. Like many writers, I sympathize with your cover woes. A cover is supremely important, but alas, our publishers don't often give us a choice in the matter. Kudos for you that you asked this time, and they went along with it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like the progression! When I think of misrepresented characters on covers, the first ones that come to mind are the Harry Dresden series. In the series, it comes up a couple times that Harry refuses to wear hats. But on the cover, Harry always has a hat on. :)

    I'm glad you got what you asked for. Thanks for co-hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you for co-hosting and for the discussion on book covers. I must say, I like your new cover better. Good to know that authors really do have a say. I need to remember this as I embark on submitting my first novel. (I've only had nonfiction published). Good luck on the new release!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh...my God. Midnight Kiss was the first romance novel I ever read and I bought it BECAUSE of the cover. I'm...gonna go hide now.

    I feel your pain though. I hold my breath waiting for my covers, praying they won't be horrible. So far, I've gotten lucky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should clarify that was the FIRST cover, the one you didn't like!

      Delete
    2. THANK YOU! You were that one sale! Just kidding. Glad it caught it your eye . . . and that it convinced you to continue reading romance!

      Delete
  31. I'm a huge fan of illustrated and abstract covers. I like the slower, old-fashioned style which allows the reader to bring his or her own mental images of the characters to the table, instead of having real models with an exact look. When I have the money for it, I'd like to revamp two of my book covers, based on the covers I drew myself. I love the images I crafted, but I think a more experienced artist might do even more justice to them.

    I'm always slightly embarrassed for writers I know through the blogosphere when I recognize their covers, or parts of their covers, on someone else's books. I'd be beyond myself with horror if I saw my exact same cover, or one of the core images from it, on another book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's like wearing the same outfit as the most attractive person at the party!

      Delete
  32. I'm really surprised by how little effort publishers put into covers sometimes.

    I've asked my fans for help with reviews and other things, and have gotten what I needed. So, yes, it's OK to speak up when in need. Especially if it's about making the book succeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing like a fan to step up for you!

      Delete
  33. I love the new cover! Great advice not to be afraid to ask for something. The worst they can say is no.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Congratulations! I can just imagine the old cover next to the new one. Quite a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I know as a reader cover can make a big difference for my choices, Great advice, nice cover, informative post,
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

    ReplyDelete
  36. Yes, covers going wrong can be quite frustrating, happy you managed to have your way in the end :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I like the changes to the cover. I agree with you about the second cover and the one with his head showing. The new cover is nice but the old cover was such a testament to the year it was designed. No one would have a Fabio cover these days, yet he's all that was on covers and it guaranteed sales.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gotta love those early romance covers! When I signed with Zebra for my first book, my first thought was "Oh, no! I have to have one of those pink or lavender covers!" I never did get pink. And I did have some gorgeous covers.

      Delete
  38. I've been very lucky with my cover art from my small press. It makes such a difference to first impressions! Thank you for co-hosting IWSG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gotta love those small presses. Actually Pocket was wonderful to work with, too. I think it comes down to what your editor is willing to do for you.

      Delete
  39. That is an awesome post.
    I was very lucky to work w/ the cover artist to make a theme for my series. I guess I should be extra thankful!
    Thank you for being a co-host!
    Heather M. Gardner

    ReplyDelete
  40. It's awful that it took 15 years to get your book rights back. But at least you now have an accommodating publisher who agreed to change the cover. (I have one who won't.) Congrats on the new release of a great series!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Great advice! I'm glad things worked out for you in the end. My husband has already said he's not looking forward to the day I get a book cover I hate. Thank you for co-hosting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell him lots of chocolate and wine . . . and maybe a good night for him to go out to a movie-for his own safety.

      Delete
  42. Congrats on getting what you asked. It is a nice cover.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thanks for co-hosting!

    It's great that things took on an auspicious turn for you, Nancy. Congrats on the new series!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hey Nancy :)

    I'm a huge proponent in asking for stuff, because you are so right... if you don't ask, you never know... and all they can say is no!

    Killing people with kindness is my middle name (although my Mom shortened it to Basil for the baptism :)

    That last cover is really great.. it's amazing how loping his upper head off gets the job done!

    Congrats and "break a leg" :)

    ReplyDelete
  45. There is a huge difference between the first cover and the final cover.
    You were brave enough to ask... and favorably rewarded!
    "Off with his head" - LOL. But that really did the job!
    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month.
    Writer In Transit

    ReplyDelete
  46. I liked the finished result of your cover. You are so brave for saying that you weren't happy with your cover. I should definitely learn to voice my opinion, because I would have been stuck with that ugly cover if I were in your position. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I actually like the cover with the model's full face. He's hot. But I can see why you'd cringe at the other two. When I was working with my cover artist on a series, I had to search out models and I did not like doing that at all. I give huge props to people who can spend hours and days going through photo sites, looking for the right image.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Oh, the tribulations in the land of Published, Traditional and Self.
    Thx for hosting this month!

    ReplyDelete
  49. So glad your determination has ended in positive results. You go girl! Love the cover!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Great cover, and good for you and all your efforts!

    shahwharton.com

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thanks for co-hosting, and for your words of encouragement!

    I like the look of the guy in the first redo...mmyes...lol But the girl looks like Megan Fox to me. I'm glad you finally got to a happy place with your cover. That's one of my biggest fears. Some books I've read, I constantly looked at the cover in bewilderment as I read.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Yep, strangely enough, it takes courage to disagree with your publisher. I was lucky when my novel was published. The publisher sought my input on the cover and the book trailer. Love your last cover. Thanks for co-hosting. Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thanks for the laughs from this post. :) I love the story of the romance hero who ended up in the horror section. And the progression of your cover is completely awesome. Great eye--the last is definitely the best.

    ReplyDelete