Monday, June 12, 2006

What Do You Do When…Author/Bookseller Feedback Column

Since I’m a “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know where to hide the bodies” type of girl, I thought I would tackle something that we might come up with an answer to today (as opposed to tackling my hair, which after a thorough dosing of wind, humidity and salt air at the coast may never be anything more than the tangled curl mass that ate my head). Ms. Librarian wrote me to inquire after how one goes about getting marketing materials. Specifically, she saw this book in a bookstore, and absolutely had to have a poster of the cover (I’m assuming for the library).

Being the smart chickie that she is, she wrote the publisher with an offer to buy a poster only to be told that they were not producing any promotional materials for this title (proof that there is an epidemic of crack smoking going on out there, I’m convinced). She then wrote me to see if I knew of anyway around this as well as if I knew of any contests involving cover art for children’s book because this title deserved to be considered. I’m sending an email to Fuse#8 about the contest question, but I thought you wondrous folks might be able to answer her question on promotional materials.

Now here’s what I would do:

Having failed with the publishing house, I would contact the author (if possible) to see if she has created her own promotional materials or has the rights to the digital image. She might have already created a poster for placement with her book in historical societies and museums (where I would hope she was marketing this because c’mon, this book is about Pocahontas).

(Slightly off topic: Back when I played at being a dramaturge, and had friends at Kinkos (before they got all frowny about copyright and such), I would get them to blow up images for me (to be used for plays and never for profit) and foam-core mount all of them. They even had some sort of nifty sealant (if I remember correctly) that they could cover the image with to keep it from yellowing. The foam-core mounting allowed me to display the images on easels or by pinning them to the walls (without damaging the actual picture). I’m not saying that one should head off to Kinkos with the book cover and try to get it reproduced without approval—chances are that they won’t do it for fear of copyright infringement—but if the digital image is available in high resolution, they could create a cover if the author has not.)

So y’all, help us out. Do authors get some access to their cover images or do you have to pay for the right? How do you produce your publicity materials if your publishing house isn’t involved?

I get eight bajillion bookmarks (bearing cover art) every month from a lovely publicist out of Oklahoma, but I don’t know if her cadre of authors have those produced or their publishing companies do. What’s the difference between using an image for a poster instead of a bookmark (other than size)?

Inquiring minds want to know.


quiche said...

I don't know about getting a copy of this, just that I never saw Pocahontas as a riot grrl/biker chick before.

Rosina Lippi said...

I don't have any access or rights to my cover art. It was hard work even getting the art department to tell me who did the art for the original release of Into the Wilderness. Through the art director I heard that the artist was willing to sell me the original art for $600. Which I declined.

My guess is that the pr/marketing person who was responsible for the book would be the best way to find out what was created, and if there's anyway to get a copy. Except they tend to be secretive about pr people too because so many agents call them up to yell at them.

So I don't have anything very hopeful or helpful to say. If you/she do figure out a way to resolve this, I hope you'll post about it.

Janni said...

I've made postcards of my book cover, with art the publisher sent me when I asked for it. I think it's not all that uncommon for writers to do so. I don't know anyone who's done a poster, but I don't see any reason they couldn't have.

Even if the author didn't create the art, they might know who did.

Christine Fletcher said...

Interesting--not something I'd considered before. Timely, too, because I'm about to order both business cards and a foam-core-mounted poster.

My publisher had no problem sending me a high-res image for use on my website. I just assumed I could use the image for other materials, as well.

A friend of mine, who publishes with the same house, has also made business cards and posters with her cover art. She's never had a problem.

If a librarian contacted me with this question, I'd jump for joy and get a poster made, pronto.

Anonymous said...

The publisher probably did not make promotional materials themselves for some financial reason. How could they possibly object to you doing so? Usually the author has no rights, the creator of the cover does. I would go back to the publisher and say: "if you don't make promotional materials, would you mind if I made some with this cover art for use in -city-."

Unless they're really strict, I think they'd be happy to supply you with an high-res image.

Ms. Librarian said...

As you recommended, I emailed the author. Her webpage is apparently defunct, and the only email address I could find was through the Amazon author blog. I haven't heard from her yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Jim C. Hines said...

In my case, the artist owns the image. As I understand it, the finished cover is fair game for my promotional materials. But the raw artwork still belongs to the guy who made it. Without seeing the contract between the artist and the publisher, I'm not sure specifically what rights are transferred.

With that said, when I contacted my artist and asked permission to incorporate his painting into my website graphics, he said that was fine.

I would try contacting the artist if you can't get in touch with the author. He or she should be listed in the front of the book. (You want the artist, not the cover designer.)