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A client recently sent me a nice looking book cover for her website and asked my opinion of it. I liked it, but had she decided to self publish?
No, she said. A seasoned publicist had recommended she post the book cover to gain interest in the subject of her book and help grow her following, perhaps even gain some interviews.
I know the publicist had good reasons for the book cover, but I was concerned that agents and potential publishers would assume she’d self published the book. It could be confusing to them.
Was I over-reacting? I asked my literary agent, Jeanne Fredericks her opinion. This is her response:
“I would advise most authors not to create a book cover for their unpublished work since it might lead a potential editor to assume that the book has been self-published or previously published. That would, in turn, lead the editor to a fruitless search for sales figures on Bookscan that would confuse and frustrate.
“Moreover, an editor might be led to assume that the author considers herself/himself an expert in design and marketing. Unless the jacket looks professional and is well suited to the work, the editor may think that the author is unrealistic about her/his talents and this could sway the editor the wrong way. Editors like authors who understand that a team of professionals who respect each other’s talents and experience is what is essential to a book’s success.”
While in this case, the cover looked lovely, the first concern still held. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen an author grapple with the occasional conflict between platform-building and publishing. Often, we have to consider whether getting publicity now for a central tenet of the book will make it too easy for someone else to take an author’s ideas before the book comes out. Or whether publicity now could make the topic less fresh, particularly for an extraordinary story/memoir.
So, there’s not one right or wrong, but be sure to consider all angles before you make a final decision. Sometimes what’s good for publicity and building a following is good for publishing, but sometimes they can be at odds.
Do you have a question about a website, publicity or publishing decision? Ask away!