Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Expensive covers

by Stacey

We've talked a lot on our blog about covers, but I haven't weighed in yet, and it's always a topic that people seem to have strong opinions about. A book of mine whose cover changed no fewer than half a dozen times throughout its development, just changed again after it went to print when they learned that one of the images didn't print well! I was also able to catch glimpses of the photo shoots for a couple of my books recently, from Matt Bites and editor Justin Schwartz.

So I thought this recent piece from PW was timely and pretty interesting to learn a bit about how much thought and discussion takes place before the shoot to get it just right. There are so many people to please, and so many subjective thoughts on what makes a cover work, or not work. This particular piece focuses on a YA series, and they emphasize just how important the cover is for this market, and perhaps the most interesting piece is at the end when they disclose how much money they spend on a shoot like this. Given slashed budgets and limited resources, it's amazing to me that publishers are willing to spend so much on the jacket. Of course, this is for an established series so they pretty much know it's going to make money.

I'd love to hear what our readers think about this. Is it worth it to spend up to $25,000 on the making of a jacket?


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  2. No! This is practically what a typical debut author will get for an advance payment. Do not judge the book by its cover still works now a days.

  3. Ok, maybe I'm a little slow, but I thought I'd be lucky if my book gets a decent generic Photoshopped splice of licensed images. I would be absolutely ecstatic to have the publisher put the thought/effort/money into a real photo-shoot. Hey, I could get excited about this cover business, now!

  4. Wow - that's a lot of money for a single jacket cover. A lot can be done by a good designer on photoshop. Really? I didn't know. Unless you're making a film to go with it and need to have some proper shots of the actors playing the roles in the book. Even then most big films have a budget for a professional photographer to take on location photos that could be used for all types of promotion later so the photos would be covered and the rest could be manipulated via photoshop. Is that just one book jacket or 1000s because you have to run 1000s to make it worthwhile to print? Hard back using expensive paper? Wow.

  5. I work in a bookshop. I cannot tell you how many times I've had customers put away a book I've recommended just because the cover doesn't give them "the right feeling". It doesn't matter how much I talk the book up, how much I personally love it (which usually is a big selling point) - if they hate the cover, they don't want to buy the book.

    Since it appears that most people indeed do judge a book by its cover, then, I'd say the jacket is worth putting quite a bit of effort and money into. How much is enough, though? - that is a tough one. $25,000 sounds over the top, but if that is what it costs to sell 25,000+ copies of a book, I guess the math isn't so difficult.

  6. If it was for my book? Absolutely

  7. I agree with Cruella, when I'm in a bookstore just browsing, I tend to pick up a book that catches my eye. I can scan hundreds of books as I'm walking around, but it's the cover that will make me stop and pick it up. Once in my hands, if the jacket doesn't interest me, I'll put it back down; if it does, I'll read the first page. That first page becomes important because if I'm not hooked by then, back down it goes. If it does, nine times out of ten that book will go home with me!

    Getting a great book cover is worth the money, because if that book doesn't reach a reader's hands, what good is it? I think, however, it's more important to spend the money for a new author rather than an established one for the simple reason that if I'm going into a bookstore for a particular book or by a favorite author that I happen to have ever single book they've ever written and I want their latest book, I couldn't care less what the cover looks like, I know it's a book I want to read.

  8. I don't really understand how it all works, how much money is normal with these types of things, but as a debut hopeful I would be really excited if a Publisher spent that kind of money on my book. Who wouldn't? Is it neccessary? Not sure. But I can understand why a Publisher would do it. If they can catch the eye of teens, for example, (who tend to like the sparkly flashy cover on anything) they will get their money back.

  9. As a yearbook adviser, YES. First, make sure you have a book that's worth dropping that kind of change. Second, make DAMN sure that you can't accomplish the same effect at a lower price.

    "Don't judge a book by its cover" was true long ago, when books were bound with leather or cloth ... not nearly so much now that the cover is designed as almost an introduction to the book.

    Also? That 26 grand was JUST FOR THE SHOOT.


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