One of those times is when the author, in all his/her glory, is so uber excited about finishing their manuscript that they go ahead and design their cover art. They slap together their query letter and include cutsie pie jpegs of the cover art right above their name. They’ll have a website or blog that has their cover art prominently displayed as well.
Um. No. Nooo, no, no, no.
And this is where we get back to my semi-firing synapses. When I see that cover art in a query letter, I blink blink several times and re-read the query letter just to make sure this isn’t a previously pubbed book. Then I scratch my melon and wonder whazzup.
See, authors don’t do the cover art. That’s our job. You may be under the impression that you can use your cover art, and you’d be wrong. I’ve talked about cover art before here, so I won’t belabor the reasons as to why we don’t use authors’ cover art. But suffice it to say that while you’ve been busily working on your platform via your website and/or blog, you’ve also gotten people used to seeing your cover art. I’ve seen sites that were designed solely around that artwork.
This is a misfire for several reasons:
One – Your cover art will change, so why take the time to design something that won’t be used?
Two – When people see cover art on a site, they think the book is already published, so they may go hunting and pecking around for a book isn’t on the market place.
Three – Seeing a designed cover makes my intestines twist because I’m nervous there will be a bit of “discussion.” Cover art is emotional enough because the author has lived with a certain vision for a long time and may be shocked at what the publisher’s art department comes up with. It can get, ah, interesting.
Authors are always shocked when they see their cover art. Always. I have yet to publish a book where the author didn’t take a deep breath and feel their hearts explode just a bit. I figure that when a querying author has gone so far as to design their cover, then what kind of fun am I in for?
Lastly, designing a cover for your book is, well, amateurish. Unless you plan to self pub it, then you’re wasting time and money on something that won’t be used.
Your job is to write fantabulous books that make us swoon and toss beagle off desks. Our job – well, one of them – is to take care of your artwork. I recommend that you don’t jump the gun, and leave the artwork to the folks who offer you a contract.