Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday Morning Donuts (no coffee)

Feel bad about your POD cover? Don't worry--even the big traditional publishers screw things up sometimes (not nearly as much as your basic POD, but still . . . ) The immensely talented and humorous Max Barry got a nasty surprise regarding the cover of his upcoming novel (his third) with Doubleday.

We'll get to it in a moment. First let me say that many authors (especially the unpublished ones) have fantasies about books covers, that Random House enlists a top ten photographer who hops on a plane to Alaska or Iceland to get that perfect picture of the water at dusk which captures the essence of your novel.

Not likely.

Ever heard of stock photography? This is why graphic designers earn so much. They take basic photographs and turn them into something unique and beautiful. Usually.

In the case of Mr. Barry--not so unique.

Turns out his cover is almost identical to another upcoming title.

More entertaining is Max's editor's email response: "While we haven’t been able to ascertain whether the American edition of that other book will use the same donut, we’ve decided to play it safe and shoot our own donut. Any preferences? Chocolate frosted? Apple cinnamon?"

Ah, publishing is an elegant and professional industry.

Over at Amazon, the incredibly inane
HOW TO UPSET A GOLIATH BOOK BIZ . . . is getting reviewed--poorly as you would guess. The first reviewer correctly states: "Be forewarned, this is nothing more than a big book of hype about some publisher that you have never heard of which, though claiming they have 12,000 authors, has never produced a single title to make it on any bestseller list on the planet."

But the saddest thing of all is how the reader was tricked into reading/buying: "And at $25? Who are they kidding. I should have looked closer---I thought it was $25 for a hardback, not a PAPERBACK. I was so upset that a product could be this horrible that I looked into returning the book, but apparently you can't based on the way the book is produced. I got scammed twice in the same purchase. "

And in the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me department (and I truly hope that I am), check out
this wonderful editing service.

And since I repeatedly seem to mention how difficult it must have been for Chuck Palahniuk to get FIGHT CLUB published, I decided to research it and see if I was right. Of course, I was. Here we have another case (like Will Clarke) where agents would only take notice once the book deal was in place. Like, duh. From Chuck's site:

"Believe it or not, Chuck had to go through hell and back to land an agent. His first submitted manuscript was a 700 page plus monster of a novel called Insomnia: If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Already. Chuck says it was his attempt at being Stephen King, only every agent rejected it. Chuck than dabbled with even darker material, with a manuscript called Manifesto which would later be re-titled Invisible Monsters. Like Insomnia, agents just couldn't embrace the dark tones in Chuck's work, and while his voice as a writer got some recognition, nobody was willing to take a chance on him. That all changed when Chuck "gave up" and just decided to turn it up a notch and make his next manuscript even darker. Thus Fight Club was birthed and, within months, Gerry Howard (Chuck's editor at WW Norton) convinced the higher ups to take that chance, and Chuck soon had a book deal with a major publisher. It wasn't until 20th Century Fox took notice that Chuck nabbed an agent with Edward Hibbert, who would later go onto broker the deal ensuring Fight Club the movie was just a few years away."

A fun note for those who do not know: Eddie Hibbert is not only Chuck's literary agent (he is with Donadio & Olson), he is also Gil Chesterton from Frasier.