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So, over the weekend an author friend emailed me, asking me about discrepencies between bookscan (she got her data through Amazon's author Central, which shows you up to 8 weeks of sales) and her royalty statements. she's not the first person to be confused by the wide gap between the two sources. Some point out that bookscan "fails to capture" most of their sales. Others say bookscan is higher, and can't figure out why. And after typing up such a big email to her, I thought I'd share it here. So here goes:


So, on bookscan vs royalty statements, it's a little bit complicated, so bear with me.


Thing #1: Royalty statements are based upon copies shipped. Bookscan is based upon copies SOLD TO CONSUMERS, and doesn't generally include ebook sales. Therefore, over the life of a book, bookscan CANNOT be higher than royalty statements, or there's a serious error somewhere. You can't sell more copies than your publisher shipped. (Because again, bookscan only covers physical books. this does not include target or costco either...)



However, you have to take into account that there may be a singular statement or two where you have higher bookscan than royalty statements. Because of the timing.


 Say your book comes out January 1. Your royalty statement is for January 1 to June 30. Your publisher ships 20,000 copies. Therefore, your royalty statements say you sold 20,000 copies.Did you actually SELL those? No. Your publisher sold them to bookstores. They are returnable. 


 By contrast, for those 26 weeks during the first royalty period, you sold 250 copies to READERS every week. Your bookscan numbers show 6,500 copies sold. (YES, that means bookscan says 6500, royalty statement says 20,000.) So that means at the end of the royalty period,  in bookstores across the country, there are still 13,500 books just sitting around on shelves, waiting to be bought.


 Now, let's fast forward to your second royalty statement, July 1 to December 31. Say you are STILL selling 250 copies every single week, and move another 6500 copies. Some stores re-order to fill their stock. But maybe your books don't sell well on the west coast and they ship them back. It's actually possible to end up with net RETURNS (as in negative sales)on a royalty statement even when bookscan shows you sold 6500.Or maybe only 1,000 copies get returned, and 2,000 get purchased. Now you've sold 1,000 copies in a royalty period where bookscan says you've sold 6,500.


 But step back. Your overall statements say you've sold 21,000 copies, and bookscan says you've sold 13,000. So your overall royalty statements are still higher. And remember, there's still a whole lot of books sitting in bookstores, waiting to be bought. Your publisher already credited you those sales, but bookscan won't pick them up until Suzy Reader walks up to the register and purchases the book.


That's why it's complicated. Your publisher could over print or over ship in the first statement and show really slow sales on the second one, but meanwhile consumers are still buying it.


That said-- if your bookcan is higher than your cumulative royalty statements, then you have a problem.


What Authors Learned from their Editors

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I was thinking lately about the weird things authors do-- personal tics-- when they write. Overusing certain phrases or terms, bad uses of punctuation, etc.

For me, editing, even copyediting, is rather enlightening.

- I have always said, "She walked towards the street." Um, no. There's not supposed to be an S on there, at least not in the US.

- My editor told me while editing IN TOO DEEP, "Are you aware you use the term Hyper-Aware about a million times? I've become hyper aware of your use of hyper aware."

-The same editor also told me he was convinced I had "random capitalization disease." Sometimes I capitalize Ice Skating. Other times I don't capitalize washington. or coke. And trust me, my characters like coke. It could be pretty bad.

So, I thought it would be fun to ask my author friends what THEY learned from their editors, and here are their answers:



Jennifer Brown, author of HATE LIST AND BITTER END:

On my last manuscript it was "just." I spent an entire two-hour flight just deleting "justs." Also, I learned from my copyeditor that Dumpster needs to be capitalized, and I'm pretty sure my copyeditor would jump up and down with glee if I learned the difference between "each other" and "one another."







Saundra Mitchell, Author of SHADOWED SUMMER and THE VERSPERTINE:

My books are populated entirely by bobbleheads. If I had to remove every single head nod, bob, shake and tip(ped sideways) I would literally lose 3000 words right off the top.

Jennifer Brown adds: Me too, only mine are always gazing into one another's (each other's? GAH!) eyes.




Kristina Springer, author of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS, and MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS  adds:

I have the happiest characters on earth. I say "smile" ten gazillion times (give or take a few gazillions) a book.








Megan Crewe, author of GIVE UP THE GHOST and the forthcoming THE WAY WE FALL, says:

I learned that I have a tendency to use "further" when I should write "farther." And I've also learned that just how many ways US speech is different from Canadian (e.g., in Canada we say "grade six"; in the US you say "sixth grade.")




Jennifer Jabaley, author of LIPSTICK APOLOGY and CRUSH CONTROL adds:

I confuse the terms 'bring' and 'take'. For example I'm going to bring her to the airport instead of take. Wait, it should be take, right? SEE, I still don't know.









Michelle Zink, author of the PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS trilogy and TEMPTATION OF ANGELS, says:

Pre-edit, I use the word "knowledge" A LOT.

Like, 126 times in one book.
O_o





Cheryl Herbsman, author of BREATHING says:

Commas. I use them when I don't need to and don't use them when I do need to! It led to whole discussions between me, my editor, and copyeditor :)







Kim Derting, author of THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE says:
I'm a "just"er too.

Also, still don't know how to use lay and lie properly. True story.

And this last book, I learned my characters have glittering/sparkling/glinting eyes. All of them.

I also misuse words and often don't learn the true meaning until copy edits. In The Pledge it was "stringent" (I meant "astringent" apparently). Entirely different meanings ;)



Erin Dionne, author of MODELS DONT EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES and NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL BAND GEEK says:

I can't seem to learn when to capitalize Mom and Dad, and I'm also forever forgetting when my characters have stood up or sat down and have them repeatedly sitting and standing like they're in church!





Malindo Lo, author of ASH and HUNTRESS says:

Add me to the "just" club. I'm currently stripping what seems like hundreds of them from my book — up to five per page at a time! It's like once there's one "just" the others just start multiplying. They like to appear in packs.

I also love the em dash like nobody's business, but I'm not giving them up! *clings to —*




Cindy Pon, author of SILVER PHOENIX adds:

I learned that if you are using ellipses, and it's actually at the end of a whole sentence, you use FOUR periods....








Cyn Balog, author of FAIRY TALE, SLEEPLESS, and STARSTRUCK says:
I think I said "rifle" as in, "she rifled through her bag" 250 times in a 250 page manuscript. And I learned while writing Fairy Tale that Tinker Bell is two words.





Rhonda Stapleton, author of the STUPID CUPID trilogy says:
I have an em-dash fetish, and I loooooove...love...ellipses.

Also, I have a problem with body parts acting of their own volition. E.g., eyes reaching across the room, fingers walking on their own, legs twitching. Zombie apocalypse much?







Sarah Ockler, of TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FIXING DELILAH says:

That Google Translate isn't always your best friend when it comes to inserting witty commentary in another language. :-)





Janet Gurtler, author of  I'M NOT HER and IF I TELL says:

My editor thought that my book, waiting to score, sounded like gay erotic porn because of the first sentences I had. Which my editor made me change





Danielle Joseph, author of  SHRINKING VIOLET, PURE RED, and INDIGO BLUES, says:


In Pure Red I learned that it's not easy to shove cracker crumbs in your pocket when you are kneeling so I had to get Cassia off the floor.







Charity Tahmaseb, author of GEEKS GUIDE TO CHEERLEADING, says:

I learned that not everyone knows what a "hotdish" is and that it might need a description (as in "tuna noodle") for clarity.

Also, we apparently used the term "insanely short skirt" 276 times in Geek Girl. It was suggested we cut back on those.

(To which Rhonda Stapleton added:
I've been to my daughter's high school--you weren't exaggerating in your quantity. haha).


So, readers... what did YOU Learn from your editors, critique partners, etc? Any personal writing ticks you'd like to share?

YOU WISH

Step 1: You write the damn book. Yeah, this part is a lot of work. That's what seperates the wussies from the real writers. But that part you knew, right?

Step 2: You revise the damn book. And this doesn't mean running spell check or having your bff Sally proof read it. It means finding critique partners who you may never meet in real life, and trusting them to rip apart your book with a red pen. You'll wallow, you'll cry, and you'll emerge with a better book in the end.

Step 3: You query agents. With a kick-butt query letter that has also been ripped to shreds and reassembled, maybe with the help of the fine folks at verlakay or absolute write. Because there's nothing like the internet to make shy, introverted people become gleefully brutal. It's for your own good. I promise.

Step 4: You land a kick butt agent. S/he gets out an even bigger red pen, and you revise your book. You may also realize you should have listened to that one girl on that one message board who said your protagonist was kind of annoying.

Step 5: Your agent sends your baby out into the world. You refresh your inbox 945 times. Per Hour. You type up 32 emails every day, saying, "Have you heard anything?" only to delete them becuase you know that would be annoying, and also, your agent isn't going to forget to tell you about that six figure pre-emptive offer. But one or two of those emails will manage to get sent, and then your agent will swear s/he still loves you, and to sit tight. Which you'll do, cool as a cucumber. Not really. You pretend to be cool as a cucumber, but really, you just sent all your writing buddies an email titled Submissions Update #455, in which y'all analyze that one line in that one email to try and figure out if maybe there's good news coming.

Step 6:  You  may get to 'second reads" a time or two or "go to comittee" and your hopes will soar,but sometimes they'll crash, and you'll consider quitting this whole writing thing in favor of becoming a potato farmer. You'll dream of a world with no internet or books. But then you'll realize you'd probably just write your next novel in the dirt with a stick, so you may as well keep at it.

Step 7: You get the call, and after those first few sentences everything else gets sort of hazy. You know, as if those first few sentences she spoke were shots of Bacardi 151. She'll probably email you all this crap later, so you don't really have to pay attention. Just focus on the jumping up and down part. You trust her anyway, right? That's why she's your agent.

Step 8: Several days usually pass in which your agent rounds up answers from everyone else, and you stare at the wall in a daze, and the only answer you really want is to the question: "When can I blog about this?"

Step 9: You accept a deal. You finally tell your mom you wrote a book, becuase chances are you didn't consider yourself a "real writer" until now. You wait for a parade, but then realize the parade probably comes on release day. Which, come to think of it, is like two years away.

Step 10: TWO YEARS, ARE YOU EFFIN KIDDING ME? HOW WILL I SURVIVE?

Step 11: The euphoria of selling your novel wears off, and the real work starts. Your editor sends you a revision letter that is about 12 pages long, and you contemplate putitng every other page through the shredder so that you don't die right now, curled up in a ball under your desk. But then you eat that entire apple pie and get to work, and realize it's not so bad and hey, your editor might just be the smartest friggin person you've ever met. The panic will come back about 3 days before your book is due. It won't go away until she has read all your revisions and told you you're awesome.

Step 12: Line edits. These don't suck too bad. Well, except that one line on page 99 that you were sure was the best line you've ever written, and your editor just crossed it out.

Step 13: Copy Edits. These don't suck too bad either, but HOLY CRAP, do you use commas wrong. And WTF, you really thought it was "towards." There's no S on the end of that? You google it just to be sure, but turns out this person who does copy editing for a living actually knows what she's talking about.

Step 14: First Pass Pages, or FPP:  You're supposed to be proofreading this- your LAST proofread, but you can't stop petting those cool swirls they use for chapter headings.

Step 15: ARCs. For four and a half seconds, you're squealing like a little kid on christmas morning. Then you realize: If you're holding an ARC, other people are too. And reviews will arrive soon. Oh, snap, you really should have paid more attention to those FPPs, becuase right there on page 7 is a typo. Every reader in the whole world is going to stop reading on page 7, you're sure of it.

Step 6: Finished Books. You don't expect them unitl release date, but they almost always arrive a week or two early. One day you arrive home, and there's a whole box... just sitting on your porch, all innocent like.

You've made it.

Oh, except.... Book #2 is due in three weeks.

[Originally posted July 2010]


Introducing... GETTING CAUGHT

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Hi Guys! I have an exciting project to announce! GETTING CAUGHT, a YA rom-com I cowrote with Cyn Balog, is up on Amazon later this week! You can add it to your goodreads here. Cyn is one of the most talented writers I know-- her paranormal YA romances have been published (and will continue to be published) by Delacorte. As you probably know (since you read this blog!) I am published by both Penguin and Flux. This project is simply a new, joint venture by us as we continue to work with our established publishers.

You can download it for your Kindle devices RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.  It is coming to a Nook near you very soon, too, I promise. :-)

Sometimes in war, there are no winners…

 Peyton Brentwood is pretty, popular, and Harvard-bound. Or so she hopes. Her only distraction from AP classes and entrance exams is the prank war with her ex-best friend, Jess Hill. Peyton is used to getting what she wants, and she’s not about to let a loser like Jess gain the upper hand.

For Jess, the prank war is an outlet, a way to get revenge on the best friend who left her behind. As if Peyton has the guts to do what it takes to win. Please. There is no way in hell Jess is going to lose this one, even if she has to hit Peyton where it hurts.

These two girls are about to discover it’s best to keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.


It is priced at $3.99 and available for Kindle (and Nook soon as well!).

IF YOU ARE A BLOGGER with an established blog (more than 6 months of steady content) please email me at amandayawriter (AT) yahoo (DOT) com to request an electronic copy, an interview, guest blog, etc. Either Cyn or I will accomodate your request.

Thanks so much, guys! I hope you enjoy GETTING CAUGHT!


Interview with a cover model...

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So, I got such a fun email over the weekend! It came from Cole Hitchings, the main character in RIPPLE. Erm, I mean it came from a guy named Matt, who is on the cover of RIPPLE. I asked him to answer a few questions, and he was kind enough to indulge me. So... here goes!

Hi Mathew! Can I call you Matt? I feel like we should be on a nickname basis. I have, after all, 20 pictures of you in my house. Technically they are all the same, and they are on a book jacket and we’ve never met, but still.

You can call me Matt...or Cole, whatever. Ha ha 

Anyway, thanks for humoring me with an interview and giving everyone a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the image on the cover of RIPPLE. To refresh your  memory, this is what it looks like:



Yep, that’s you, right there on the left, looking all hot and smoldery. So without further ado, here are my questions:
 
1)      First off, tell the readers about how you discovered your face graced the cover of a literary masterpiece.

 Well, it was about 11 pm and my friend Rea from Los Angeles texted me and said "Saw this at Barnes and Noble! Good job! Pretty cool!" along with a picture of the book. I thought it was some sort of joke or something you could do on the internet where you put your friend's face on a billboard type thing. So I googled (is that a verb yet? googled?) your book and went to your website, and there I was! I immediately called Brittany (the girl in the picture) and told her about it. She was just as excited as I was.

 
2)      Where did you guys find such a gigantic  tree? The redwood forest, perhaps?

I don't exactly remember where that was actually. It was at some park around Hollywood. There was probably a homeless guy on the other side of the tree passed out. ha ha. The original setting wasn't nearly as glamorous, but I think the final products turned out great!

3)      Readers have commented that the “models” look older than 18, a common occurence in the YA publishing world. How old were you two when this shot was taken?

Yeah, nobody looks like that in high school ha ha. I think I was actually 20 years old at the time, and Brittany is a year older than me so she was 21.

4)      Do you always dress that spiffy? Also, pretend I didn’t say “spiffy.”

Ha ha!!!! No I don't usually dress that "spiffy". At the time Brittany and I had been dating for a while, and she liked to dress me. I'm more of a casual kind of guy. Jeans, flip flops, a baseball cap and a t-shirt is my day-to-day wardrobe.

 
5)      In the stock photo on shutterstock, it looks like there’s a castle in the background. Did that really exist?

I have no idea where the castle came from! I guess it was a vision the photographer had. There definitely was not a castle. I think there was actually a highway there. Much less romantic.

6)      I understand you’ve been reading RIPPLE over the last few days. Is it totally weird every time I describe how hot and irresistible Cole is? I am basically describing you. That must be kinda surreal.

Yes I have been reading it! Can I just say how AWESOME the book is?! I love to read, but only awesome books. If it's not good after the first 10 pages, I put it down, throw it away, burn it, etc. I'm way past page 10 in Ripple.  It is a little weird to read that honestly. Mostly just because I picture myself in high school. Cole and "high school me" are complete opposites. But I still think it's pretty cool and VERY surreal. I wish I could show this to the "high school me" and tell him to keep his chin up!
 [Mandy Says: I didn't even pay him to say it's Awesome! I knew I liked this guy.]

7)      Are you going to run around reading it in public just to see if people notice? I would totally do that. You should dress up in the same outfit, though, just to really complete the picture. Actually, I think you should do that and send me a picture of you holding my book which has a picture of you. Yeah. I went there.  

I will definitely go out in public wearing that EXACT outfit holding the book up at eye level for people to see. If people don't notice then I'll just have to stop them and tell them! I have been shamelessly blasting the book cover all over my facebook and calling/texting/tweeting everyone to go buy the book.

8)      Do you know how Brittany feels about being described as a virtual Helen-of-Troy, so hot that guys drown themselves for her?  Is she cool with the fact that I gave her scales? Because, you know, see above? She’s still hot. Scales and all.

From what I understand, Brittany is VERY excited about it. I haven't gotten to talk to her that much lately. She's been busy with her Miss California Intl. duties. With Brittany, her and Lexi are very much the same. From the constantly looking pretty and she tends to have guys throwing themselves out her all day everyday. It's kind of funny because when I told my grandma about the book and the cover she said, "You know, Brittany is like a real life siren. She does do that to boys." But, yes she is still hot with the scales and all.

Okay, enough with the silliness.  Thanks so much for humoring me, Cole! I mean, Matt!

And in case you want more Cole, here are some outtakes from the shoot: 

 

Friday 5

YOU WISH
1) First off, HUUUUUUUUGE congrats to client Lee Bross, whose debut novel (she's writing under Lanie Bross) sold in a pre-empt to Delacorte! Head on over to the party at YA HIGHWAY to congratulate her.

Here's the deal announcement:
Debut author Lanie Bross's FATES, the story of an Executor sent to earth to bring about human destinies, who finds herself unaccountably experiencing human emotions, leading to an epic romance set across multiple worlds, to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media, on behalf of Paper Lantern Lit.



And to make sure that *MY* role in this is clear, I represent Lee. I negotiated the deal/terms between her and Paper Lantern Lit, a book development company. Stephen represents Paper Lantern, and he brokered the deal between PLL and Delacorte.

2) I wrote this on my hand this morning:

I got a story idea while driving that revolves around a clock and OMG i am so excited!!

3) I turn in DANGEROUS BOY on Thursday. And then I am... deadline free. For the first time since... 2009. Um, yeah. I dont know what I'll do with myself!

4).... except write some option books! Which is why #2 is exciting. I am so used to writing for a bit and then switching gears into agenting for the rest of the day that I am excited to continue the grind with some new books.

5) I signed a new client this week! Head on over and say hello to Joy.

That Thing You Want to Know....Part II

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Awhile ago, I blogged about advances, breaking down how big of a check you'd actually see from an average advance, a six figure advance, and a "major" advance of $500,000.

My intent was to give a more realistic portrait of advances than what seems to be floating around in the world.

But, as you may have noticed, I talked only about the advance. And there are many other ways that writers earn income. The obvious is a day job, or a hard-working, successful spouse, or being a billionaire heiress. But let's say you don't have those things, and you still want to BE a writer, not just someone who writes on the train, at night, or wherever you can find 5 minutes and a flat surface to write on.

There are many other ways to make money in the publishing industry.

For one, let's say those advances outlined in my previous post were for World English or North American rights. Well, then you have the opportunity for foreign rights sales. (If you sell in world rights, you still do earn money that way-- but it goes to your publisher first, and is applied to your advance. This means you can earn out more quickly and see royalties...but if the book tanks, you may never see that foreign money. And yes-- it IS possible to earn out your advance BEFORE the book publishes, based on foreign sales alone. I know people who have done it. )

I have seen foreign sales to very small countries go for $300. I have seen them sell at auction for six figures.

Most of the authors I know who sold foreign rights were midlist books, and the rights went for anything from $3,000 to $8,000, with an occasional $10K outlier. (Keep in mind if your book sold in the US for a major deal, its much more likely the foreign sales will be for bigger money. )

Now, foreign pubs take as long or longer to pay out than US pubs, so you may not see that money for months--even a year--after the book sells to those countries. Most authors think of foreign money as a bonus that will show up when it shows up, not an income to rely on.

So, how else, as an author, can you earn money?

*Speaking engagements. Schools and libraries, in particular, can pay well, often in the $200-1,000 range for larger engagements. There's also writer's groups-- most conferences pay an honorarium. If you're going as an author, they usually aren't lucrative-- in the $100-300 range--but for keynotes it's much larger. And the nice thing is, conferences often need people to do the critiques that attendees sign up for. You can usually earn $20-40 per critique.

*Freelancing: Whether it's writing articles or editing, many authors freelance. Some of them, such as Rhonda Stapleton and Bev Katz Rosenbaum, offer editorial services for aspiring authors.

*Write-for-hire: I know a number of authors who make a living writing by juggling their independent, original projects with write for hire projects. Micol Ostow and Kieran Scott come to mind. You may know Micol from her recent books FAMILY and SO PUNK ROCK, but she's written 40 books, including TV-spin offs and A few of Puffin's STUDENTS ACROSS THE SEVEN SEAS books. Kieran writes wonderful YA under her own name, and is the writer behind the ever prolific Kate Brian brand. I am awe of them both.

*Teaching-- this is a little different than the aforementioned speaking engagements, as it's a bit more formal. Media Bistro, among others, hosts classes for aspiring writers. They often run for several weeks, and the teacher/author critiques participants, lectures, and more.

*Subrights: if your book is made into a movie, hell, a theme park,  well, you should see a nice payday. Dream big, but don't bank on it.

*Royalties: If you're in the game long enough, royalties for your backlist should hopefully kick in, which means while you're getting new deals (and new advances!) you're also seeing paychecks for books that came out a couple of years ago.

*Ebooks: I am seeing more and more traditionally published authors release "shorts" and novellas onto Amazon to support their traditionally published books and build buzz/platform. It's an interesting avenue for many authors to explore.

*Anthologies: Some authors compile/edit anthologies and bring in some income that way.

So, yes. There are other ways to make money in publishing. It might not fit your dream image of sitting in your pajamas all day, staring at the blinking cursor while sipping coffee, but you could make it work. 


PS: This is still meant as an illustration of income in a traditionally published author's career track. I do realize that the whole picture looks much different for a self/e-published author.  


YOU WISH

If you've been in the writing community long, you probably frequent writer-centric sites, or you haunt social networks like facebook and twitter. As a wannabe author, I used to  hang out on Verla Kay's Blue Boards. If you write picture books through young adult, the blue boards are wonderful-- cram-packed with information (multiple agents and published authors are always around to answer questions) and incredibly supportive. There are many other sites too, like  Absolute Write and Query Tracker Forums.  I am constantly telling people to get their query letters critiqued on one of these sites before ever sending it out into the world.

But, there's a flipside to forums, and while I'm probably preaching to the choir here, it begs repeating:

The internet is not as big and anonymous as you think it is, and even when you speak in code, or scramble someone's name with asteriks and @ symbols,  it's easy to find. And most folks in publishing have publishing friends too, so if someone doesn't see it themselves, chances are a friend will point it out.

On one of the boards I saw a note from the moderator saying, eseentially, that that particular board was a safe place to bitch and vent. It was even a safe place to bitch about your "friend's successes'.

o_O

GUYS. Message boards are not your living room. They are not private emails. They are readily visible to anyone with google. The writing community is small. Even if you don't name someone, with the tiniest ibt of context, we can all figure it out.

I've never been attacked on a message board, but I have seen other writers lambasted by people who have never met them, and never even spoken directly to them, not even on twitter or emails. And you know what? It hurts. Nothing is ever as perfect on the inside as it looks to people on the outside.

I've learned about what writers thought of my revision requests by seeing them discussed on message boards as well. Is it okay to discuss? Sure...but I would have loved to have talked more about my ideas with you myself. Had I known you wanted things to go a different direction, we could have talked more about it. Instead I find out your thoughts via a message board that is supposedly "private".

Because I'm an author and agent, I may be more tapped into the writing communities than the average agent. But some of the hostility and anger I've seen from some writers toward others has really put me off.

Have I ever been bitter, jealous, or angry? You bet. I would have ripped my hair out, at times, if it weren't for my CPs and writing friends and flurries of emails. So next time, consider whether a forum is really a "safe" place, and maybe send an email to your buddy instead. It's human nature to have a range of emotions, especially when you desperately want something and it seems as if someone skates in and grabs it when you've been toiling in the fields forever.

But think twice before you vent about it online.

Evolution of the RIPPLE cover

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One of my absolute FAVORITE parts of the writing/publishing process is seeing my cover for the first time. There's something about that moment that makes it real. I had a very strong vision for what I thought the PRADA & PREJUDICE cover would look like, but ever since, I've just sort of left it up to my publishers' amazing design teams.

When it came time for the cover on RIPPLE, I wasn't sure what to expect. The book was very different from my previous titles, both in tone and in content/hook. In fact, I'd hardly begun to even think about it when an email popped up from my editor with a cover attached to it.

This is the very first cover for RIPPLE:


I liked it-- I did. And I knew exactly what they were going for-- it captures that whimsical, fun sort of vibe they did SO well with on Prada & Prejudice and You Wish. RIPPLE would be my third title with them, and they were growing my brand. They wanted my readers to follow me with this new direction.

But I was also concerned it didn't capture the novel quite right. Part of it was that they designed the cover while I was still writing it, which meant even my editor didn't know exactly what the book would be like. Lexi, in the book, is lonely, and empty, and cursed, and the girl on this cover looks like she's dreaming about becoming a mermaid. And... I had already decided I was going to get rid of Lexi's tail (her skin changes a bit when she swims, but she no longer has a full mermaid tail like she did in the initial proposal.)

My agent and I discussed our concerns and talked to my publisher, and then all was quiet for a bit. Anyone familiar with publishing knows that authors have little to no control over their covers. I was worried, but I put it out of my mind.

Then, a few weeks later, I was in New York, having lunch with my editor and my agent. And that's when they pulled out a new cover comp. I think I gasped. They had completely scrapped the initial cover and went back to the drawing board...and come up with something that looked very similar to the final:


When i saw it in the office, her dress was red. In the book, Lexi specifically says she's drawn to greens and blues, anything that reminds her of the water-- so they quickly adjusted her dress to match, and then sent me the above jpeg. We chatted about some very minor tweaks (there appears to be some kind of garbage along the grass behind Cole's feet, and Lexi's hair is too dark...).

Very quickly thereafter, they sent me the final cover:


As you can see, they also enhanced the 'scales' on Lexi's legs, made the sky stormier, and brightened up the water.

I love it. I could not love it more. And I'm still amazed and grateful at how far Razorbill (and designer Emily Osborne!) went to get the cover just right. It could not be a better match for the moodiness, the tone, the intensity of the romance.

Not long ago, Saundra Mitchell (fellow 2009 deb and talented author!) sent me a stock image she stumbled across:


I was absolutely blown away when I saw the stock image. Emily certainly had a vision! I can't believe she was able to take that and create something so perfectly suited for RIPPLE. (also, is it just me or does it look like there's a castle in the background of the stock image?)

Many, MANY thanks to the team at Razorbill for taking my thoughts into consideration and then coming up with a cover I couldn't love more.

[RIPPLE hit stores everywhere yesterday! Learn more about it HERE.]
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