Just Something In The Morning

I’ll post in an hour or so.  Some family stuff has come up that unexpectedly ate my morning.

BUT in the meantime, I came across this cover, from Random House:

Sell to the Majors!  You’ll get appealing and commercial covers…. Guys, his tail is square from bad clipping.  a piece of the mountain is in the middle of his back… Oh, wait, it’s not a tail, it’s a river tilted at  a completely different angle from the rest of the picture.

Way to go, Random Penguin!

Which brings us to this:

Fisking Hugh Howey

And this from it is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long time.  I read it aloud, and the tears ran down my face, because it’s out in the open, and I don’t have to keep it in anymore:

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers.
That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce.
That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher or retailer becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.
The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.
This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.
But that’s okay. Because now authors have a choice.
I’ll sign it big and legible, so fat king Putnam can read it without his glasses!

34 thoughts on “Just Something In The Morning

  1. I’ve seen the book at the regional B&N, and the cover looks worse IRL than it does on screen. You can see more of the cropping cuts (and fails). And it’s under “literature.” I’d have considered it closer to fantasy, based on the jacket copy, but that’s just me.

  2. I’d have figured prehistorical romance. Perhaps with a paranormal bent. Mostly, the cover just screams, “DON’T READ ME.”

    1. Yes. I will say that except for the fact that they have a nicer font (though the kerning at the end seems weird to me), we had better covers in the early days of NRP with a total newby making them. (Not me. Not in the early days.)

      1. It’s not hard to do. A few days (maybe weeks) of effort to learn the software and cultivate sources, and a design handbook. Also, a willingness to blend into genre, which seems to elude me.

            1. Oh yeah, investment is well worth the cost of admission. I took the Pitches and Blurbs class, which saved my backside because I had to write the jacket matter and catalogue copy for my latest history book.

              1. And that one’s on the list, too. I am at best a gifted amateur. Though I’m better than Harper-Collins. “Step aside, Star Wars!” is NOT a good way to introduce a space opera to readers of space opera. Yes, you connect quickly with the idea of it, but everybody I know who reads or writes space opera has STRONG opinions on Star Wars, and that line is pretty much guaranteed to alienate all of them.

                1. “Step aside, Star Wars!”

                  … that is [obscenity] ridiculous. You should never reference another book/movie/series at the beginning of your pitch, unless it’s something else by that author/creator. Maybe at the end, as I’ve often done for a few pitches. Make it a comparison or summary, e.g. my friend’s urban military fantasy (The Unseelie Court goes to war with the United States) which we wrap up describing with “It’s Quentin Tarantino does Apocalypse Now on peyote”. But as your primary selling point? That is wall-lickingly moronic.

                  1. Exactly this. As evidence, I can remember neither the rest of the blurb, nor the title, nor the author of the work. Not exactly what you want a potential reader to walk with…

        1. Ummm. Just because you can learn software, cultivate sources, and read a design handbook doesn’t mean you can design your way out of a paper bag. Even though I’ve worked with graphics programs enough to put in a tweak here and there, I cannot create an original design and not have it suck big time.

          1. But we’re not talking about creating original designs, and most of the time, those simply take more time. What we’re talking about here is manufacturing designs that are very similar to what’s already being used in whatever genre you’re writing in. So an urban fantasy that’s not also paranormal romance may have a half-naked dude on the front, but he’ll be rocking a pistol, and probably a sword or staff. Military SF will have somebody in power armor, or someone obviously a soldier with an alien in the background. Space opera will have a planetscape, and a spaceship. Space/Mil Opera will have the same, but the ship will be exploding. That kind of thing. Not original designs by any stretch of imagination, but ones fairly easy to nick for your own use. As I implied, I’m fairly bad at this, but that’s because I’m both unpracticed, and possessed of an … unhelpful sense of design. I like minimalist covers. My ideal covers would be gold leaf title and author lines on leather. No images. I’m told that’s not terribly appropriate for selling genre fiction, and it makes me sad.

          2. You need patterns. I learned this principle in software creation, but it’s broadly applicable. You want to accomplish this thing (and as the Kilted One pointed out, genre fiction that you’re selling provides some handy constraints) so here are the pieces you need. The exact implementation may vary, but you have a pattern to follow, and even the least creative can throw some semi-random tweaks within set limits. It’s quite doable!

            That said, some folks have found that it’s worth the money to them to let someone else do the work for them. Caveat emptor, but it may be the right way for you. Just don’t do it because you think the other route is impossible or unmanageable.

  3. That cover is just …odd. Nothing quite matches, and it probably looks horrid in thumbnail. I could do better – and I’m a ‘take a nice photo do an extensive artistic filter and super the title and author in a nice font over it’ kind of amateur designer when it comes to my ebook covers.
    (For the print version, I pay my little brother, the graphic artist.)

    The declaration of author independence is awesome, though. I’m linking to in on my own blog and the Watercress Press blog, too.

  4. We shall never be taken advantage of again. We shall not support any publisher or retailer that continues the abuses listed above. And we demand to share in the rewards we’ve busted our asses for.

    *and the crowd goes wild!*

    That was a good read, thanks.

    The Random Penguin piece is worlds more engaging than the book cover. The book cover is lousy.

    But — maybe Random Penguin is trying to emulate the success of independent titles, so they’re copying the pieces they think they understand… Do you think they fired their editors, too?

  5. I read the whole thing. Thanks for the pointer, Sarah. I went ahead and signed the letter at Change. I’m not a writer. I make things, I teach blacksmithing, I do costuming and historical recreation, and I’ve been building digital computers since 1976. Right now I’m working on a new BEAGLEBONE BLACK system to build a 3-d printer. (we used to call them “Santa Clause Machines.) Because I have wide ranging interests, I read. A lot. A couple of dozen small or specialty pres books this year, 37 e-books directly from Baen, and 189 e-books from Amazon.
    A lot of the books from independent writers could use a good copy editor, or at least a proof reader. The cover art is not good. But I read for story. I look for the heroic journey. I enjoy the character’s progression, and yes, The authors, as they learn their craft. So I support the writers. May you all get the living you desire, for sharing your thoughts and imaginings with us.

    1. Isn’t it sad that the major publishers have forgotten so much of why readers want books that we are willing to suffer bad grammar and bad covers to get to the kernel of story within? I thought that’s the value the publisher added.

      BTW, why did you choose the BBB for your 3-D printer? I’m not ready to make one yet, but I like keeping up with what choices are being made by others that have made the leap.

  6. From the link:
    Some may worry about The Day When Amazon Eats Their Faces. And they want to fight that imaginary day by allowing legacy publishers to… well… eat their faces today.

    Nonsense logic. You don’t worry about the wolf that might eat you someday when there is a lion currently feasting on your leg.

    Really that’s it. Right there. Period Dot.

  7. Try dot star instead of period dot. I’m pretty sure it will match anything.

    (Yes, I agree, my life is so boring I’m reduced to making Regular Expression puns.)

  8. (Yes, I agree, my life is so boring I’m reduced to making Regular Expression puns.)

    And mine is so sad, I actually laughed out loud.

    1. Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

      Though I use them all the time, I have to admit that debugging ones written by other people (which includes yourself 5 years ago) can be a right pain

      1. I hate this one guy I work with, because he can practically think in the damn things. I have to build them up carefully, and usually have to go back and fix them three times before they’re right, if they’re not simple.

        1. Housemate hates his younger self, because some of the notes in his older code goes something like “If you don’t know what this is supposed to do, f- you, you weren’t supposed to know anyway!” He wished for a time machine so he could punch his younger self in the face.

          So I remind him not to do something so silly again… periodically. *grin*

  9. “The Legend Of Broken” fits that cover perfectly. A white tiger in front of a badly photoshopped mountain. That tells me so much about the book and makes me just want to grab it right off the shelf, not. This has to go into the “what were they thinking” file. If this book tanks, Mr. Carr should sue the Random Penguin for dumping his career in the can.

  10. So… it’s a YA “from the view of the animal” book, where the white tiger is called “broken” because he’s Different?

Comments are closed.