What can be done to avoid bad covers? What do you do?


I’m still in shock from the arrival, yesterday, of a box of the French edition of my novel, Mistress of the Sun. My heroine, Petite (based on the real-life and blonde Lousie de La Vallière), is portrayed as a woman with jet black hair.

Forget all the historical inaccuracies: that her head is uncovered and her hair loose over her shoulders; that she’s wearing what appears to be a ball gown on horseback. Forget that the ugly horse looks half-dead. Forget the fact that the cover screams: This is not a novel to be taken seriously! And that it seems to be aimed at young adults.

Forget the pages and the footnotes added.

Forget all that and just concentrate on her heroine’s glaring black hair!

What can one do? (In the contract I was given approval of the cover, but this was overlooked.)

Here are some thoughts for the future:

1) Ask to see the publisher’s catalogue before agreeing to sell the foreign rights.

2) Get some understanding of how this publisher “sees” my book, how they intend to position it.

3) Make a personal connection with the editor who will be seeing it through.

4) Provide a brief crib-sheet (in basic English) to the art department on possible approaches to a cover, including a basic description of the main character.

5) Ask when the cover will be ready. Remind them that you are to see it.

In short, get involved.

Not that there’s ever time! Does one just sign, let it go and pray for the best? This is not my first bad experience, but it’s a dilly.