Recently I met an author who shared with me an interesting story about yet another author. There is a lesson in the tale for those of you about to publish.

An author wrote an adult book that started off with two chapters that sounded more like a youth book. You know, the part let’s you read before you buy? A parent reading the preview could wrongfully assume the book was safe to purchase for a child. The cover art also suggested the story would be suitable for the Youth/ Adolescent market.

However, once a reader read past the first two chapters, the book had language and sexual depictions that were not suitable for kids.

The book was purchased by a parent for a child. Once the child read the adult material, and brought it to the parent’s attention, the author received protest on misleading the buying public.  Poor reviews on the book followed. True Story.

The trouble could have been avoided if the author had designed a cover that made it plain that adult material was part of the book. The cover art should have looked “adult” versus “youth-oriented.”

Sometimes an author has an image in mind for the cover. The rendering artist, knowing the content of the book, may suggest revisions, but the author (or publisher) is adamant about the original image. The author-selected image may be all wrong for what is inside the book. And the image may, indeed, mislead the reading public.

When your cover artist makes suggestions about changes to your cover art, please listen. You may spare yourself–and your title–criticism.

7 responses »

  1. Sad to see a book get off track like that. Good lesson to heed.

    By the way, Defender Pro got back to me and released my site from its accidental ‘prison hold.’ Thanks again for your help with that!

    • Glad to help, girlfriend. People need to be able to navigate to your very funny blog. On the post topic, I hope to finish the first draft within days on my own book. I have a bit of time while the re-write is underway to think about what comes next, LIKE A COVER!

  2. Excellent advice, Fay! Authors do need to keep their content and reading audience in mind when deciding on the book cover.

    For example, I had an author whose cover almost went the other way. The cover designer did a really hot, sexy cover for her book. The author fell in love with it. But while the book was suggestive, there was no actual heavy sexual content. I gave her a couple of days to cool down and then explained to her that readers of erotica would buy her book and then be disappointed that there wasn’t any actual sex in it. We needed to tone down the cover–make it suggestive like the book. The author took a deep breath and agreed. We toned down the cover and her book has been doing great with teens. The author tells me that she still has the original cover pinned up over her desk!

    The fact is many cover artists I know don’t actually read the book when designing the cover. They don’t have time to read every book that they are working on. So they trust the author and publisher to guide them in setting the right tone.

    • The team that surrounds the creation and packaging of a book needs to be on the same wavelength on every facet. Thank you for your enlightening comment, Lauren. Your insight is always welcome.

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