Thursday, July 2, 2009

Guest Post: Your Book Cover and Promotion

Lynne Jamneck is a South African writer, currently living in Wellington, New Zealand. She has published short fiction in various markets, including Jabberwocky Magazine, H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction and Spicy Slipstream Stories. For Lethe Press, she edited, selected and introduced the SF anthology, Periphery. She is currently studying toward a degree in English Literature and Religious Studies at the Victoria University of Wellington and writing her first speculative novel. She blogs at

"The Voyage Out" by Gwyneth Jones (Periphery: Erotic Lesbian Futures edited by Lynne Jamneck) has been published in the 26th Year’s Best SF, edited by Gardner Dozois.

The ROR team would like to thank Lynne for her series of blog posts about editing this week. Check out her previous posts on the Highs and Lows of Anthology Editing and Editing Dos and Don'ts - it's not too late to join the discussion!

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Your Book Cover and Promotion

Now, cover images—most authors have no or very little control over what actually ends up on the cover of their books. Unless your first name is followed by something like King, or Rowling, the likelihood that you will not have final say over the cover of your book is always going to be there. I made sure to state in my editorial contract that I wanted to be directly involved in this aspect of the anthology. I do believe that a cover can make or break a book. People have short attention spans, and you need to hook them in. The cover is the first thing they see. Plain as that. So hook 'em.

Promoting is another important aspect of the post-publication period. Make sure you announce the release of your title on appropriate listservs and groups where you can connect with other like-minded readers and authors. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can serve very well as promotional tools. And blog, blog, blog, always providing a link to the title listed on a space like Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your publisher for those eager to buy a copy.

Yes, it all sounds pretty technical and like a lot of slogging through massive amounts of words. And it is. But look—you're not going to be doing this sort of thing unless you like reading, right? And you're not going to do it to make money, either. (Trust me, you're not.) Hopefully, you've let yourself in for this little adventure because you're a little weird (at least, according to your "normal" friends) and you get a kick out of seeing thirteen-odd stories find one another in the space of two-hundred pages, the whole thing coming together to say something about that initial spark which set the project in motion originally. That's how I define a highlight. When you finally hold the finished product in your hand and it hits you that an idea in your head has become something physical, something concrete. Periphery ended up being short-listed for both a Lambda and Golden Crown Award this year, which is fantastic, and I think certainly a reflection on how much of a positive experience it was for me. Different editors work in diverse ways. I don't think there is a particular right or wrong way of going about it. As both a writer and an editor, for me personally I want to say something through editing as much as I do through writing. It's only the approach that changes.

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Tansy says: Thanks, Lynne! I'd love to know - since you were involved in choosing the cover - why you went for this piece of art and what it says to you, and about the book it belongs to. Anthologies are more and more becoming the preserve of the small and independent rather than mainstream 'big' presses - can anyone else cite some good examples of cover art matching the anthology to great effect? Or have any other happy/horrific cover art stories?


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Just wanted to say I LOVED the cover art for Periphery. Outre and sensual. Good choice.

Lynne Jamneck said...

Thanks Rowena !

Tansy - the publisher and I went through several images and finally decided on this one. It's clean, and for some reason I always associate sf with the colour blue, I dunno why. I didn't want a "typically" erotic cover, because that would give potential readers wrong expectations of the kind of stories they'd find inside.

I agree with you on the matter of anthologies seeming to move to smaller publishers. While there are some cons to this, there are definitely pros; I think were liable to see some VERY interesting anthologies if the trend continues, both in terms of style and content.