Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Author Freaks Out over His Book Cover

I just ran across a thoroughly enjoyable blog post from Kenneth Whyte, editor-in-chief of Maclean's, Canada's only national weekly public affairs magazine. He is the author of the soon-to-be-released The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst. During the editing process, his editor at Random House's Counterpoint imprint showed him a few cover options and asked for his input. He gave it, and the editor should then have been able to proceed with getting the cover produced.

But Whyte, who knows how much a cover can affect magazine sales, couldn't let it rest. In his post he details how he increasingly got so far under his editor's skin that she decided to feign an e-mail outage to avoid further contact with him. I like, though, that he is able to make fun of himself in the post.

Have I seen this happen? You bet. Of course, author input is great. But when it starts to interfere with the production schedule and cost a lot of money in redone designs, somebody has to draw the line.
And as for the "atrocity" of a cover that the publisher decided to go with? I don't see anything wrong with it. Of course, you want a picture of Hearst on the cover. And in this one, he looks like he's sitting on a throne with kingly bearing. The black-and-white and the antiquated font fit nicely on a book about a newspaper baron from the late 1800s. It's simple, it's elegant, it fits. What do you think about it?


Lori Cates Hand said...

But you know, the more that I look at it, I think the subtitle should stand out more.

Jeff said...

Too bad he didn't post the alternative covers online. Without comparison it's really hard to say, though I don't think this is a bad cover. I do agree that the subtitle should be more prominent.