Friday, November 14, 2008

Special Guest Poster: Karen Olson!

I'm in the Boston area for the weekend, attending CrimeBake, so I'm delighted to welcome Karen Olson as today's guest blogger. Karen's fourth Annie Seymour novel, SHOT GIRL, is just out in mass market paperback from NAL. Thanks, Karen!

I don’t know why stores are rigid about where to put book cover stickers.

On Nov. 4, I went into my local Barnes & Noble to sign stock of my new book SHOT GIRL, which had just been released that day. The folks who work there are super, and they eagerly found all the copies of the book and piled them up on the customer service desk for me to sign. I whipped out my trusty pen and swirled my John Hancock on the title page. And then I handed each book over to the customer service rep, who was going to put an “Autographed Copy” sticker on each.

He hesitated, the sticker hovering over the cover, then apologized as he stuck it down on the bottom right hand corner, completely covering my name.

“We have to put it here,” he said. “It’s the rule.”

Now, there’s plenty of space on the left hand upper corner of the book, sort of “open space” that would accommodate a sticker quite nicely and then the customers would be able to see who actually wrote the book. I know I peruse the bookshelves by author name, but if I can’t see it, well, then, I could pass it right by. I suggested the alternative spot for the sticker. Alas, the young man said he just couldn’t do it.

“It’s the rule,” he repeated. And then he added that with mass market paperbacks, it’s tougher since there’s less room anyway.

I thought about my other covers, and placement of the autographed copy stickers on them. And I realized that my name has been covered up on all of them. It made me take a look at some of the books on my bookshelf to see who else would lose their name or title. Sean Chercover’s BIG CITY BAD BLOOD would be BIG CITY BAD; Dave White’s WHEN ONE MAN DIES would be WHEN ONE MAN by Dave; Dan Judson, Sean Doolittle, and Wallace Stroby would all lose their last names. But on the flip side, writers like Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben, and Lee Child all have their names and titles positioned in a way so nothing is lost. There seems to be some sort of hierarchy.

So please buy my books, just so maybe someday I won't suffer from sticker obstruction :) After all, there are rules.



Sean Chercover said...

Damn! "Big City Bad" is a way better title! Wish I'd thought of that.

norby said...

You have to understand the retail world Karen. Somewhere is a little man in an office who thinks that is the perfect place for that sticker. I'm sure he has a perfectly good reason for it, and if you pointed out that it covers your name, he would probably suggest that the cover art be changed.

Retailers like their displays to make sense that way.

John said...

Is this really the end of the tour, Karen? I'm gonna have withdrawal! Anyway, you have to love how little sense that so-called rule makes. (Not like an author's name is important...) And I do almost feel bad for the poor guy who was too fearful to rebel by letting you place the sticker elsewhere!

Karen Olson said...

Sean, I agree that Big City Bad is a cool title!

Hey, Norby, yes, everyone has to be a sheep and I'm sure that stores would want the cover design to change to accommodate the little stickers.

John, alas, this is the last stop on the blog tour, although I'll be at Lipstick Chronicles on the 29th.

AnswerGirl said...

I have personal knowledge of at least one instance in which Barnes & Noble's buyers asked a publisher to change a book's cover art, and the publisher did it.

So I'm actually a little surprised that your publisher's cover designers don't know about this goofy policy, Karen -- and now that you know, will it influence your decisions about cover designs on future books?

Maybe that's a silly question -- it's absurd that something as silly as a sticker should influence any artistic decision -- but will it?

Thanks for visiting today!

Karen Olson said...

Actually, the sticker will cover up some of the lovely design on my cover for THE MISSING INK, which is out next summer. But that won't change now...

Laura Benedict said...

I always try to move the stickers when I go in to sign--I know that's just horrible, but it usually never works anyway. Occasionally, they'll just hand me the roll of stickers because they're busy. I always offer....

So glad to see you here, Karen. What a great tour you've had! I'll be sure to check in at Lipstick Chronicles!