Christian book publishers and bad cover designs

Sparing many specifics (in hopes of not creating gossip), I have a few good reasons to be angry at and confused by the Christian book industry. In case you didn’t know, my wife’s an author. But her story actually only plays a very small role in creating all of this disgust.

A few great writers that I have close relationships with get the “you’re not a key author” slap in the face. I just heard someone use the “key author” title yesterday and it about made me puke. And guess what? Once a publisher sticks with a key author they usually get much more time (spent on picking something as important as a cover), and also much more of the budget.

I understand. You can’t expect a new author to be a hit right away, or deserve the time and budget of the publisher! I’ve heard it a thousand times. And it does make sense. But we live in the information age, an age where the thoughts of consumers are greatly impacted by a product’s visual flare. The truth is, even some of the best Christian publishers say they understand that, but apparently they don’t have a clue.

How do I know they could change for the better? Hire professionals (not just workers) who can create mini sites, marketing strategies (don’t just ditch social networking), and at least help the author out by giving them a cover that they’re not ashamed of! That’s called being a professional. And by being unprofessional, I’ve seen your decisions directly and negatively impact book sales.

Think outside the box, and don’t hold on so tightly to your own opinions. A huge part of your relationship with the author is making them comfortable with something they’ve poured hours into. You wouldn’t want someone having so much control of the destiny of your career and hurting it so badly. It turns my stomach to watch these friends books not sale almost entirely as a result of your cover choice / lack of marketing. God knows their story is good enough. The myth is a lie, today’s culture does judge a book by its cover.

  1. Hey Gabe,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. With the release of the iPad, and ever increasing use of social media, the days of the big publishers are numbered anyway. I think it will happen even faster than the music industry took. We are telling authors who come to us to do it themselves. So many options and possibilities now.
    thanks for the post!

    Bob H

  2. Justin Wolf

    I understand the point as well, but it makes you wonder how many talented individuals are overlooked because management is not willing to provide the resources to give someone a shot. Most of the time the cover is the reason I pick up a book in the first place. First impressions are huge!

  3. This post makes my stomach nervous. I know you’re not talking about me/my publishers, but still.

    I’ve seen the cover you’re referring to, and yeah. Wow. Not good.

    But I also know there are 2 sides to every story. And I know publishers have to pour most of their time and money into the big name authors who will earn out their advances.

    But yeah, it can be discouraging to be stuck with a cover you don’t like (and had no say in).

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