RR: "What was a misstep that you (or your publisher) made with publishing your first book--and how would you do things differently?"
DS: Yes, it's a popular topic for authors... and the adage is, "don't judge a book by it's cover"... but it's true... people do judge a book by it's cover. It probably happens more subliminally than conscious decision making. This is the reality of any retail product on a shelf. And these days, it's more important when considering thumbnail size images on a web page.
The standard literary contract text on this subject generally speaks to "consult with author" on cover. The negotiating should really include something that speaks to a final confirmation-- something that gives the author some weight in arguing and defining how the cover is integral to the author as a brand... one's voice, the story, the setting, etc.
For some, this might not be important or matter. But in the case of giving a prospective reader some idea of what the story is about, or where it takes place, this almost common sense. Yet it falls through the cracks. When done, it can make it very hard for an author to "sell" their book, or have writers and journalists get what the thing is really about without having to read more into the piece.
And when the book is on the backlist, the effect of how the spine is designed is critical!
Next time around, this will be a critical element of the agreement. There are so many ways to sell a book these days, if one is brand conscious, this can be a wonderful way by which to increase strength and exposure.
Causes David Shalleck Supports
Meals on Wheels Save the Tiger Fund Mediterranean Mark Any that support reading for children