Monday News: Writers Coffee Shop verdict, DIY book covers, bookstore sponsorships, and “sh*t romance readers say”
A Texas woman just won a lawsuit claiming she was tricked out of royalties to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ – You may remember this suit, filed by one of the original owners of Writers Coffee Shop, the small publisher that hit big by publishing Fifty Shades before it sold to Random House. Jennifer Lynn Pedroza, from Texas, signed a contract, given to her by Australian co-owner Amanda Hayward, that a Texas jury decided was an unlawful means to cut Pedroza out of the profits from the Random House sale.
What’s particularly ironic is that Pedroza may not have filed suit at all had Hayward not tried to shut her down after she gave an interview to a local paper, which was covering a new soap business she and a partner (who had also been employed at TWCS) had started. It was after Hayward’s threat to sue that Pedroza filed suit. Oops.
Pedroza filed suit in Tarrant County in May, claiming Hayward tricked her into signing an agreement that cut her out of a fair share of the royalties to the trilogy of books. . . .
After a nine-day trial, the jury determined that Pedroza was one of the four original owners of The Writers Coffee Shop and that Hayward fraudulently restructured the partnership under the guise of tax reasons to mask her intention to keep payments from the sale to Random House for herself. –Business Insider
Forget Fabio: DIY Covers – An interesting article on cover designing in the era of self-publishing, in which authors have more control than ever over every step of production. From fonts, design, and color, the consensus among designers seems to be that simpler is better. Also issues with stock images, including repetitive use and limited availability of images of people of color are covered. Courtney Milan is interviewed, and she is definitely an example of an author who has branded her cover look. I don’t, for the most part, notice covers, unless they’re really lovely or really awful, but maybe I’m in the minority of readers there.
In terms of what’s working in the industry today, the authors and designers we talked to are in agreement: “I think simplicity does it now; it used to be that the fancier covers were the ones that really got the attention,” says Carrington, who adds that her recent clients are asking for uncluttered covers. “Nowadays, it’s cleaner lines and unique colors.” Her favorite at the moment are the monochrome covers with color used only in the title or on a part of the image. “It really draws your eye,” she says. Collins also says that, as an author and a reader, she is drawn to simple covers using a single symbolic image.
Graphic designer Hafsah Faizal says she tries to steer her clients toward simpler covers. “I think the minimalistic covers stand out the most, and I try to keep my covers minimalistic as much as possible,” she says. Using her cover design for The Body Electric by Beth Revis as an example, Faizal adds, “If the book allows it, I’ll use colors that aren’t the norm.” The novel, which she describes as “science fiction with a touch of romance” features a neon green cover with a hand-lettered font. “I also try to use fonts that aren’t regularly used, but it’s not always possible,” Faizal says. She points to typography-driven cover designs that turn the title into a work of art, citing the YA titles Shadow and the Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, and The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski, as successful indie examples of this trend. –Publishers Weekly
An Opportunity for Borderlands to Stay Open – Some of you may have been following the saga of Science Fiction bookstore Borderlands in San Francisco, which announced in early February that rising payroll and rent costs were making the store impossible to support much longer. Following that blog post, there was an outpouring of community support for the almost 20-year-old bookstore, and out of that community discussion came an idea to keep the store open through individual sponsorships. Sponsorships of $100 were considered with a preliminary list of benefits (see below), and as of this weekend, the bookstore had sold enough sponsorships (they were hoping for 300) that they can remain open for the rest of the year. Will other bookstores try this idea? It strikes me as a version of those loyalty cards Barnes and Noble sells for $25 a year (aka the bookstore that seems to hate Romance).
We are still considering benefits we can offer our sponsors but, at this point, a preliminary list is:
– Reserved seating at author events
– The ability to rent the cafe and / or bookstore outside of normal operating hours for private events at our cost (which is roughly $25 to $100 per hour)
– Invitations to a quarterly gathering at the cafe where you can socialize with other sponsors, members of Borderlands’ staff and occasional special guests
– Access to preview sales of rare and collectable books whenever we make a large acquisition
– The opportunity to purchase occasional items produced by us for sponsors and not offered to the general public (such as limited Ripley prints, chapbooks, and so forth)
– A selection of unique apparel and accessories showing your status as a sponsor and not available to the general public
– Invitations to sponsor-only events, like small gatherings with authors, exclusive writing workshops, and more
A sponsorship will cost $100 for this year. That price may increase or decrease in subsequent years, depending on our finances. The minimum number of sponsors each year will be 300, but we will accept any number of people who would like to participate. Each participant will be given a sponsor number, based on the exact time and date that they first started sponsoring Borderlands. –Borderlands Books
Sh*t Romance Readers Say – Rachel Hollis’s compendium of phrases Romance readers use that, for the most part, only other Romance readers will recognize. You don’t realize how much of our genre vocabulary has been invented within the genre community until you see a lot of it repeated like this. –You Tube
Sh*t Romance Readers Say was funny!
I find Courtney Milan’s covers with the woman in the dress so repetitive that I tend to forget the books are not.
Autoplay warning on the Sh*t romance readers say.
@SAO: I’m not a fan, either – they’re anachronistic and half the covers look like the models are wearing sheets.
That said, what Milan has done since she turned to self-publishing could probably be used as a marketing case study (of the successful kind). She has an excellent understanding of who her target audience is and how to position her work so that it will attract readers, keep them coming back for more, and create positive word of mouth. She’s a very good writer, but her success isn’t only due to her writing talent.
@SAO: And to be the nitpick-y little pedant I am: It’s pronounced VY-count. Not VIS-count. (Yes, I do annoy my family, why do you ask?)
It does seem like we have our own language sometimes. I don’t have many people in my life that read romance but I follow numerous blogs and occasionally find the language slipping in to my conversation. My sister and I were talking about movies recently and I said something like “I want to know if a movie has a HEA or not before I watch it” which had my sister giving me a strange look before I clarified myself.
I’ve had similar word hangups when I refer to things. I didn’t realize it was a thing until a friend who reads only fantasy commented on my review for a Brandon Sanderson book where I said “And I really want to know if Spook gets his HEA because HFN is not something I want for this poor guy”
Apparently my friend spent way too long wondering what exactly “HEA” and “HFN” meant thinking they were some code word for spoilers for Sanderson’s Cosmere ‘verse. XD
@Marjorie ingall – since more of my vocab comes from reading, not hearing/speaking words (especially in regards to romance as I read lots of British historical romances, but had little call to hear those words in real life properly until I was older), I used to think “viscount” was “vizcount”. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that a new friend corrected me and I was like “wait…what OTHER words do I mispronounce and you guys assume you know what i mean?”, the ensuing conversation had my head spinning as apparently I mispronounce A LOT of words, but my friends didn’t see a reason to correct me as they knew what I meant (mostly).
BookGirl Problems 101 right there.
I’ve never been a fan of romance clinch covers of any kind and the current trend of using real people isn’t helping. I agree that there’s such a sameness and it all becomes a blur after a certain number. I could never tell one Lisa Kleypas or Mary Balogh or Julia Quinn historical from another or from each other for that matter.
I’ve always been more attracted to simple covers and believe one of the reasons Twilight hit so big was those basic yet eye grabbing covers.
Covers are the FIRST thing that I notice about a book! I will purchase a book from a new to me author JUST because the cover intrigues me. It is the only reason when I purchased my digital reader I got one that would show me color covers over the gray scale e-ink reader. Not all digital outlets will give me a color cover on my device and even though I can get a discount on the book (VERY important to my budget) I won’t get it from the outlet BECAUSE I can’t get a color cover…
My kindles were eink and I loved them, but I finally realized my inability to find anything to read on them was because the covers were unrecognizable, boring and grey. Now I read on my iPhone and it’s no longer an issue. Also, I find myself more likely to buy books from diverse sources since I can read using iBooks or Kindle [my favorite apps], an option I didn’t have before.
Yeah, covers matter.
Covers matter A LOT. And I fully admit to being a total cover whore.
I’m not really a visual person, so I never pay much attention to covers. However, I’ve seen a lot of feedback about my covers (ePublisher who uses stock photos) that make me think I’m in the minority. (I thought my covers were fine, but they seem to have turned away some potential readers. I’ve filed that info under “publishing lessons learned”. There’s a lot in that file. :) )
A cover will only turn me off of a book if it is poorly photoshopped (makes me think the quality of the writing won’t be good either). Truthfully it’s the synopsis that will determine if I buy a book and not the cover.
@Lexie C -ha! you made me laugh, I read Brandon Sanderson too and I wouldn’t have thought to use those terms in a non-romance story review. I like the idea that they could be spoiler codewords.
Also, in terms of pronunciation I’m 100% sure that any Russian names I would read aloud would be nothing like they are actually supposed to be pronounced – I make up shorthand in my mind for reading names like that. (and then there is the Markwiss vs Markee debate for Marquis – I don’t know which is right though I tend to go with the French way).
@Christine Maria Rose: It depends whether it’s a French or English title.
@Ros: you are right of course!
I like covers, although I don’t see all that many — but a good cover is memorable for me, and a great cover often means I have that cover facing out on a bookshelf. Definitely more so for art and picture books (they’re bigger, too!) but a spiffy hardcover like the bundled Necronomicon or the special edition of The Last Unicorn is as much art as the contents inside.
Speaking of covers, I saw this today and… was honestly considering getting it, just for the cover. I also have a soft spot in my heart for incredibly awkward covers.
I think covers are important and that, in general, they are poorly done in a lot of books currently being published. I understand that authors have no or very little say over the cover (unless they are self publishing) but I suspect the art department of most big publishers don’t read the books and have no idea what the main characters look like or what the key scenes in the book are. For example, I collect the J.d. Robb “in Death” series in hardback and am really annoyed with the pictures on many of the English (Piatkus) Editions ( especially the paperbacks) which show , for example, the back of a girl running up a set of stairs or through an alley. ( This is obviously are stock image because I’ve seen it on other books too). The girl has long hair, is wearing a skirt and high heels. I think if Eve Dallas saw that cover, which presumably is meant to represent her, she would take out her weapon and stun the art director! If Nora Roberts, who would be one of her publishing house’s best selling authors , is treated so poorly by the art department who decide on the covers what chance would a mid list author have? Contrast modern book covers with some of the beautiful covers of the 1950s and 60s e.g. the beautiful Barbosa covers designed for Georgette Heyer who was a top selling author of that era. I read where Big Publishing are inflating prices for ebooks to prop up paper books but they need to focus on providing the reader with paper books that are worth buying and putting on the shelf.
Covers are very important to me. I am much more likely to read the description of a book if the cover features the heroine and hero fully dressed. This is particularly the case if I’m looking for a PNR. Covers with hairless, bare chested, more or less faceless men start looking all alike and don’t catch my interest.
I meant to add that the covers by Susan Illene, Debra Dunbar and Deborah Blake are perfect examples of great PNR covers. Susan Illene’s are particularly good despite being photographs. Maybe that’s because her heroine is ex-military as is Susan Illene.