Just read this article in Publisher's Weekly.  If I was a tradtional publisher I think I'd start to get nervous.  This has all the feeling of a small snowball rolling down a mountain side turning into a massive avalenche.







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I know I'm a lone voice in the wilderness on this, but the whole 'blockbuster' thing makes me tired. If I hear that something is a 'blockbuster,' it makes me want to stay as far away from it as possible. And, OK, maybe there is something in SOME humans' nature that makes them want to have a shared experience, but I for one am weary of shared experiences. I want a refuge from shared experience, a place where it can be just me with myself. That's one of the joys of reading, for me -- it's just me and the book. I know that I'm in a minority of the human race on this, and I worry that someday the shared-experience people will TAKE OVER and I'll no longer have those moments of solitude that I need to survive.

OK: obviously, I need a nap.

You're intelligent, that's all. And yes, that makes you part of the minority.
Potentially, this new dynamic may be a gods send to authors. We should be able to go direct to Amazon. . . many already do. . . bypassing the middle men altogether. We may have to spend, and be involved more with, the design of the covers for ebooks--but in my opinion, we should be already.

And Amazon should be willing to pay far more generous royalties than traditional publishers ever have since, in essence, they are putting out very little coin of the realm for costs. But yeah . . .in a way . . . it does sound like wishful thinking.
I'll be honest with you BR., without the "middle-man" editing, copy editing and designing my books I can't imagine selling even to my family. As it is, with all their support I can barely sell copies to my family.

As long as that middle man is available to me, I'm sticking with them. In my case, anyway, I see it more as a partnership than a middle man and they're certainly doing their share.
I don't feel that way, John. I've had a couple of terrible editors and the copy editors couldn't be trusted, all of which meant that I put in hours and hours even after a book is finished. I have recently started dabbling in cover design and am convinced when I master it, I can do that a lot better than what I've seen on other people's books. As for my own: They haven't cared if the cover fit content or time period of my books and they've tried to minimize and hide my name every way they could.
I think I've been very lucky--I have a smart, savvy editor who gets what I'm trying to do, has a strong sense of mystery/thriller structure and laughs at my jokes, and so far (touch wood) hasn't passed me off to someone junior as she climbs the corporate ladder. The copy editor I've worked with is diligent and knows her stuff, although there have been a couple of times when I've wanted to tell her to stop screwing with my prose. I think we've missed opportunities with cover art that doesn't say "Provincetown" quite clearly enough (how could you not use the Pilgrim Monument's giant stone phallus in a P'town-set novel called Mating Season?), but I have no complaints about the prominence of my name--it's been front and center since book one. SM/M did their part in sending galleys out for review, has done some small library and bookstore "box" promotions for me, and paid my plane/hotel when I went to P'town last summer to talk to NPR. My only complaint, really, is that the upper echelons there seem to be having some trouble figuring out what, if anything, they should be doing to market my series, which doesn't fit neatly into any of their existing categories. Some missed opportunities there, too, when a well-timed push or two could have really made a difference for both books.
Not that your writing really reminds me of him, but if they're wondering how to market your quirky, off-beat humor mysteries, they might be able to learn something from however Carl Hiaasen's publisher worked him. Again, there are a lot of differences between you, but I think the kinds of people who read and enjoy Hiaasen would be likely to read and enjoy your P-town stories.
Graphic design is a lot harder than it looks, especially typography.
What? You just get some interesting fonts and dicker around with sizes.
Yeah, well good luck with that. It's easy to tell which covers have been designed by professionals and which haven't. Colors have to match up, placement of the different elements has to work well, you have to think about the physical layout, bleeds, crop marks, cmyk (if you're using rgb then have fun seeing your cover print out a different color than it looked on your screen, and even with cmyk, you really can't be sure unless you check a color swatch book). Dealing with type means dealing with leading, kerning, tracking, and also you're not just designing the front cover, but also the spine and the back cover, and flaps if it's a dust jacket, and you have to worry about back cover copy. What typeface to use for that and how to arrange it? The size of the spine is dependent on how many pages are in the book, so in order to know what size you need to design the spine, you're going to have to have the book typeset. That's a lot harder than it looks too.

You'll see soon enough. Just design a cover and then compare it to the professionally designed books you've have published. The difference will be quite clear. Have you noticed that self-published books and many published by smaller houses, have amateurish covers? There's a reason for that.
I've designed some covers. There are wrinkles in this, but they have to do with pixels and that sort of thing, in other words with getting the image to be sharp after electronic transfer. Cropping (beyond the rectangle) is still something I have to try.
Type isn't much of a problem, and I don't do backs and spines, since my designs so far have been for e-books. Any cover I design for a print edition will naturally be adapted by the publisher's art department.
And I stand by my observation that professional covers leave a lot to be desired. Most pick a photo from universal internet files, crop it a bit, and superimpose text. That's why you get two books with the same cover image. Too many show some anonymous city street at night with a person walking away from the camera. It is totally unimaginative but saves the cover artist from reading the book.
My St. Martin's books came from files and are mediocre. My Penguin books were done by an artist. They are better as far as the image is concerned but very poor for type.
Boy are you right on that, Jon.


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