Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fitting the Cover to the Book

I think dealing with the kids last night set my health back. I was getting better, but trying to speak loudly enough to get their attention and then having to move around to keep them from killing themselves and each other got me started coughing. The panic when Problem Child climbed on top of a stack of chairs and then proceeded to throw himself off onto the floor didn't help matters. I even had to use the Mean Voice when the tactic of turning off the music and just standing there, glaring, didn't work on all the kids. It's frustrating when I have a few who are eager to cooperate and participate and then there are a few others who ruin it for them. When I just went silent, those few good ones immediately noticed and stood still. A few others never even noticed. But I get a week off next week since we're doing a children's service instead. Our group is singing for that service, but I don't have to come up with lesson plans or be responsible for controlling them.

In the meantime, as I wrap up proofreading the latest round of revisions on the YA steampunk book, I've been doing some strategizing with my agent. We've decided that the problem book isn't going to find a home with a traditional publisher because it doesn't really fit into any niches, so we're going to publish it ourselves. So now I'm looking at cover design ideas, and I'm starting to see why publishers were leery since there's no really obvious cover design for it. I've been browsing through Amazon in all the categories this could fit into, and there's no cover or even cover style that has me thinking that it would be a good fit for this book.

I guess that's my fault for writing a contemporary fantasy for which it would be impossible to put a tattooed, leather clad tough chick on the cover. My heroine is a ballerina (and, seriously, talk about tough, ballerinas are probably tougher than any urban fantasy chick) and very feminine. She wears floral, floaty dresses. So that usual cover look won't do. Though it might be funny to do a spoof of the standard-issue urban fantasy cover, but in pastels instead of blacks and greys and with the pretty ballerina in the tough-girl pose. I'm not sure that would sell, but it's funny to imagine.

There's a dog in the book, a bulldog named Beauregard who's usually just about inanimate but who proves himself pretty useful in the fairy realm. I love him, and so does my agent, to the point that she's all "The cover must be a picture of a bulldog being cute and funny!!!! It will sell lots of books!!!!" (She's a dog person.) I'm less sure because the only books I've seen that had covers consisting of pictures of cute dogs were chick lit and contemporary romance when those genres were waning (and it was cheaper to put stock photography on covers than to commission illustrations). A cute bulldog doesn't really say "fantasy adventure" to me.

The title is A Fairy Tale, and it's kind of a play on words because it's about actual fairies -- more from British and Celtic folklore than from Disney movies and Victorian whimsy, so they're scary, not cute -- but a lot of plot elements from fairy tales pop up -- rescuing someone under a spell does require a kiss, there's an enchanted palace covered in thorny vines until the spell is broken, etc. The characters are aware of the tropes and use them. I've described the plot as kind of like Tam Lin, but it's a sister, not a lover, who has to be rescued from fairy captivity. It's not quite as funny and outright humorous as the Enchanted, Inc. books, but there's still a lot of whimsy and I tried to write the dialogue with the tone of the old screwball romantic comedies. There's a low-level romance element -- a couple that can't get together now, but that you kind of hope might someday. Yeah, I love my slow builds.

And I have absolutely no idea what cover would say all that. While I love the work the illustrator I've been working with does, I want to do something different here because I want to keep the look very distinct from the other series (I don't want anyone thinking "Hey, the next Enchanted, Inc. book!"). I guess this kind of thinking is why the publishers make the big bucks.

1 comment:

Isharell said...

I say go with the pastel-clad girl in a tough pose. She can be holding the dog leash in such a way that she appears to be holding it back from attacking (instead of a gun she has a dog ha ha). put her next to a brick wall with thorny vines coming down on it. If you want to be really wild, put her in ballet gear. with or without the frilly skirt, that cover attract attention, and you are also appealing to the dog crowd. but don't have the heroine looking blank or wimpy. she has to look tough and capable.