Monday, February 14, 2011

Cover And Titlefest Episode #1: Pudge, Hunger, and The Big O.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think titles and covers are enormously important to authors' interests. Past surveys have suggested that as many as a third of all readers choose their next book based on either title or cover (or a combination of the two.) Unfortunately, you'll have to take my assertion about these surveys on blind faith, since I just got home from work and am far too lazy to look them up right now. But if you're a regular over on Absolute Write (and you should be), you've seen them, since the title/cover/how-do-you-choose-books issue comes up regularly, along with Who Would Play Your Characters In a Movie Adaptation, Should I Put a Sex Scene In My Novel, and How Long Should a Chapter Be. It's a perennial topic for discussion.

Whenever this subject arises, or whenever a writer wonders how important his or her title really is, I always side with the camp of Very Important Titles (And Covers.) This has, on occasion, been met with open sarcasm from certain forum regulars who will remain nameless and with snarky rep comments...par for the course on AW, where one must expect passionate behavior because the whole place is just crawling with writers. (I love AW; don't for a second think that I am disparaging it by characterizing it. It's the only thing any writer needs, I believe, to become a pro.)

Book Cover Extravaganza starts tonight!

...provided I will actually remember to post tonight after work. Ha ha.

Coming this evening: my analysis of covers and titles from Judith Moore! Ron Hansen! and Dave Eggers!

Enjoy, mon ami!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cover Art Extravaganza still coming...!

Fear not, I still plan to do a little miniseries of posts on covers and titles, and why these aspects of book development are so very important for writers. But the more I've thought about it and discussed this plan with my book-store coworkers, the more ideas I've gathered and the larger in scope this project has grown. So I'm brewing it over my weekend and will plan to launch it on Friday.

Meanwhile, I got a whopping good five hours of writing in yesterday before work (wooooo!), discussed some things with my agent (double woooo; I feel really excited about our chat), and am eating some ice cream right now. It's been a pretty good week so far.

Baptism for the Dead is sitting at about 25,000 words, which is just shy of halfway, I think. I believe it will fall just over 60,000 words when finished, which is on the slim side for a literary novel, but it's just not a very fat story.

Still doing more writing tonight as time permits, and will be having a full-on ovaries-to-the-wall writefest for two solid days over my weekend (Wednesday/Thursday), culminating in my weekly writers' group meeting, where the usual suspects will inform me that I'm not making my characters accessible enough...STILL! :D I love those guys.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Afternoon in Seattle

Walking down the Ave to work, I passed a druggie kid on the sidewalk. He said to me emphatically, "Your glasses bring out your eyes!" His fat friend: "He's lyin'"

I laughed at them both.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Importance of Titles and Covers

In an effort to get myself blogging again, I've come up with a few ideas for picture-rich and reader-interactive posts that I think will be a lot of fun for me and for any folks who still bother to check in here. :) I know it's been rather dead lately...sorry. Life has been a wee bit hectic!

Anyway, at the moment I am working as a temp at a very cool book store in Seattle. It's a used book store where most of the store's inventory is purchased from customers for resale. This, as you can imagine, provides the store with a more unique selection than your average store that sells only what's available currently from publishers.

While shelving fiction yesterday I noticed myself setting books aside that I wanted to read myself. Idly I asked myself why I was choosing these particular books. After thinking about it (while still working! I am a busy bee!) I realized I was attracted to either the cover art or to the title. The author had little to do with it, as in most cases I'd never heard of these particular writers before.

I've always sort of known that I am more swayed by title and cover than other factors in choosing my book purchases. In fact I've always thought MOST readers are swayed this way, but of course such a cliche admission (don't judge a book by its cover!) sparks debate on forums and at writers' group meetings. But still I stick up for the importance of quality (and genre-appropriate) titles and covers, and try to encourage my fellow would-be authors to put a lot of thought into titles, even if they think their titles might be changed later by Higher Powers, and to kick and scream if they don't love their cover art. Sometimes I've received the internet equivalent of eye-rolling for my crusade for better titles and covers. Since seeing first-hand just how much these things do factor a shopper's choice in what to read, I feel justified!

So I thought it might be fun to examine what I pull from the shelves for personal reading every week, and analyze what about the cover and/or title draws me to make that purchase. And of course you, my few readers, are welcome to join in the discussion! I hope you will, in fact. I hope to have it up and running in the next couple of days.

In other writing news, as the writing world now knows, the amazing Natalie Fischer announced a few weeks ago that she is heading over to The Bradford Literary Agency. After discussing my writing and where I see it going over the next few years, Natalie and I decided to part as client and agent; we both agreed that Dijkstra Agency was a great match for my potential career. I am now represented by Taylor Martindale, and am very happy about it! After a lengthy phone conversation with Taylor, I feel great about our working relationship and she feels like an excellent match for me.

I really enjoyed working with Natalie. She's a sharp editor and has a ton of enthusiasm for what she does. Her input made my two historical novels much better books, and I am so grateful! I'm sure she'll find lots of success with The Bradford Agency. :) Thanks, Natalie, for everything!