Kay: Anatomy of a Cover

Building a book cover is a complex operation. Finding an image that conveys a suggestion of your plot as well as your book’s tone is difficult. Often several images are needed to get a background in, and depending on what your cover artist is willing to do, sometimes changing elements (like hair color) might not be possible. And then you have to hope that when your designer puts together the image(s) and type that they have the same vision you do.

This yellow cover for my book, Betting on Hope, was designed in 2011. I’ve always liked the image. The book takes place, as the cover shows, in Las Vegas. It’s a romance. It’s light-hearted—essentially a comedy—and while the book is not “about” card playing, poker is the story hook or perhaps theme by which I ramble on about found family and the strength of community.

So I like the expanse of yellow, which gets the mood and desert setting right; the insouciance of the figures; and the relegation of the small single playing card to the corner. I think the image is perfect. On the other hand, I’ve never liked the type treatment.

And that’s the result. Continue reading

Kay: The Roads to Oz

Image from altitude-games.com

This morning I read the news from the Ladies, some of which was about the work various members are putting into their self-publishing efforts. I always find this awesome. And then I pitched an editor and an agent.

One of the slogans we had in the McDaniel course was how there are many roads to Oz. At the time, we were talking about writing process, but I think it applies to publishing process, too. The hard, cold fact is that I like to write; I dislike to market. I want to write; I don’t want to sell. I’m disciplined about writing; I’m not disciplined about publicity. One important factor: I don’t need to sell books to support myself. Another important factor: I don’t see why I should spend my time doing what I dislike.

I’ve self-published most but not all of my books, which gives me “control” and of course, I’m not sitting around waiting for agents and editors to validate my work. Continue reading

Kay: When Agencies Go Rogue

By now, probably many of you have heard the news about Donadio & Olson, the New York–based literary agency, whose bookkeeper stole $3.4 million (or more) from the agency’s clients, its writers. One of these writers is Chuck Palahniuk, who has written 24 books so far, including Fight Club, which was turned into a film. None of the royalties, advance monies, or film-option payments were turned over to him, leaving him “almost broke,” he says in an incredible and heartbreaking blog post.

I briefly had an agent at one time, and I never had to get into trust issues with her, because she never sold the book she’d taken on for me. But I’d wondered about the language in the standard contract she sent—how your royalties or advances go from the publisher to the agent, who takes her cut and then sends the rest to the writer, supposedly in 10 days or two weeks or so. You really have to trust the agent, I thought, but because this woman was a friend of a friend, and because she’d signed on with all the usual agents organizations, I did trust her. Continue reading

Justine: Intellectual Property Questions – Follow-Up

flag and gavel

In case you missed it, the last time I blogged, I did a Q&A with Greg Ourada, an intellectual property attorney with Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, LLP in Atlanta, GA. He answered questions about copyright, trademark, registered trademarks, and several other related topics. You can view that post here.

A few commenters had follow-up questions and I have the answers.

Before we begin, though, a disclaimer: The responses below are general in nature and should not be considered legal advice.  Due to the highly fact-specific nature of copyright and trademark issues, you should contact an attorney if you require specific legal advice regarding a particular matter.

Now, your follow-up questions! Continue reading

Justine: Your Intellectual Property Questions Answered

copyrightWhat a week it’s been in the romance writing world! In case you missed it, there is a huge uproar over #cockygate, or the trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series.

Background: Faleena Hopkins, the author of several books that have the word “Cocky” in the title, recently received an official trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series in both regular and stylized (meaning in a specific font) form from the US Trademark and Patent Office. You can view her filings here and here.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 9.29.29 AM

Ms. Hopkins’ stylized trademark of the word “cocky.”

Ms. Hopkins has threatened other writers whose book titles also contain the word “cocky” with a lawsuit if they don’t change their titles. She’s also reported some authors to Amazon, telling the Zon that the authors were in violation of her copyright. Amazon took down the offending books at once. Romance Writers of America has hired an IP attorney and has asked Amazon to reinstate the take downs pending a legal challenge (Amazon agreed), and former IP attorney-turned-writer Kevin Kneupper has come out of retirement to Continue reading

Kay: An Agent’s Nightmares

The Nightmare (Henry Fuseli, 1781)

Several of the Ladies have committed to pursuing indie publishing careers; others are more interested in a traditional path. Each strategy has its pluses and minuses, so whichever way is best for the individual, or whichever way opens to an author, will work.

We’ve given some thought here at Eight Ladies to what it’s like being an author, especially the difficulties thereof, but most of us don’t think very hard about the publishers’ side of the equation. I recently ran across a [hilarious] Twitter feed from an agent, describing the difficulties of her work. For those of you who’d like to read the original thread, go here. For those who don’t want to click through, I’m quoting the rest here.

The thread is from Ginger Clark, a literary agent at Curtis Brown. Continue reading

Kay: Gargoyle Cover Redesign

 

We’ve talked about book production and book covers some (here and here), and I’m continuing that conversation by talking about a cover of mine that was particularly hard to pull together. And that was because my protagonist is a garden gargoyle.

First let me tell you that I never wanted to write a story about a gargoyle, garden or otherwise. But my two critique partners got it in their heads that it would be a fun project to write an anthology “about” gargoyles. We could write whatever we wanted. So they dragged me, kicking and screaming, into this abyss.

Argh.

One of my critique partners, Patricia Simpson, is a Rita-nominated author of gothic romances. Beth Barany writes contemporary romance or fantasy, often for a YA or NA audience. I write light-hearted stories, which sometimes verge on comedy, with a romance angle. So we couldn’t be more different. Continue reading