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Friday, April 16, 2010

The first helping of sausage--A Comedy of Covers

My publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, treats its authors very, very well.  One of the first indications I had of this fact came when I was asked for my ideas on the cover of Artifacts. Having heard horror stories from authors who weren't consulted, then got atrocious and inaccurate covers that sunk their book sales, I nearly fainted.  But I got myself together and told them exactly what I thought should go on the cover:  a depiction of Faye's ancestral home, a dilapidated plantation house that is eating her alive financially.  I also told them that I thought a Florida artist would probably do the best job of capturing the twisted live oaks and fan-like palms and turquoise water of north Florida, and I knew just the artist. 

They okayed this plan.  I commissioned and bought the painting, and they bought the reproduction rights.  It's hanging on the wall behind me as I type.  Here's the resulting cover:

Buy Artifacts at Now!

I got a good taste of the way authors are generally treated a year later, when the mass-market rights for Artifacts  were sold.  First, I didn't even know it had happened until I saw the mass-market edition on Amazon.  Second, the cover was long done by then, so I had zero input.  Even worse, I never saw the blurb printed on the back and neither, apparently, did anyone literate, because there are three typos in it.  Faye's name is spelled two different ways in the same blurb.  Sigh.

In fact, I never even spoke to anyone at my mass-market publisher (now long out-of-business), and no one every even told me how I might go about getting author's copies or an author's discount.  Fortunately for me, I bought a bunch of them off the shelf at Booksamillion and from some online retailers.  I say "fortunately", because it was a very small print run that sold out instantly, and there was no reprint.  I have seen these books offered for $200 by used booksellers...and I have a small box full of them in my closet. 

Bwahahahaha!  Those mass-markets are now my retirement plan.  Think what they'll be worth if when I hit the top of the NYT bestseller list...

Since you're unlikely to ever see one, here's the cover. It's not bad.  The house doesn't quite match the description in the book, but it's okay.  And the vaporous skull is a little lurid, but I guess that sells books, and there is a skull in this book.  Unlike a later book that features a skull prominently on the cover but not in the text...but more on that later in the week...


  1. Gee, Mary Anna, what a horror story! Love the painting though and am looking forward to following your blog.

    Best of luck!
    Giggles and Guns

  2. Thanks, Maribeth. I love the painting, too. :)