Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Wearing of Hats--veinglory

It is a part of the small press arena that you often end up with people doing multiple roles, mixing jobs and blending models. I think sometimes it works out really well. I actually think some press owners who are authors benefit from really understanding things from the author's point of view. But it requires being able to suppress their self-interest as an author for the success of the press.

A recent example of blurring boundaries was Peters Fraser & Dunlop (a literary agency) choosing to make clients out of print backlist available to readers using Lightning Source and Amazon.co.uk -- but not, one assumes, Amazon.com.

One area where I think some presses still stumble is cover art. One of the main ways I try and estimate a press's ability to select good prose (other than excerpts and author names) is their ability to choose good cover art. I like to see good art and I will admit that I am most reassured to see the work of people who are solely or at least primarily artists. I am constantly surprised that magazine with great stories (Third Alernative springs to mind) often have art more suggestive of a precocious high school student that an artist of the same grade as the featured writers.

There are certainly people out there who are real Renaissance women and can pretty much anything, but often some skills are stronger or receiving more effort and emphasis than others. And I will admit that when working with a professional of any kind, publisher, artist, agent, I want to know that a lot (even most) of their effort is going into that service or profession.

I wonder how hypocritical I am to think this way given that I have a day job which receives the greatest part of my energy and concentration--more so now than ever. But I am thinking here about where to place my work and I have the option to choose someone who is more dedicated as an artist, editor or publisher than I am, why wouldn't I? By the time they enter the picture the book is done and they know exactly what they are getting. I, on the other hand, am having to try and predict what they will do with the manuscript once it is out of my hands.

p.s. I have a total of 13 entries for the first line contest and could use a few more. Please spread the word. All you need to do is send your first line, pen name and manuscript title, and let me know if it is a published book or unpublished manuscript. Two $20 prizes are up for grabs once I have at least 10 entries in the published and unpublished categories. Email entries to erecmail at gmail.com

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