Monday, September 7, 2009

Elana Roth, Literary Agent

I promised information on Elana Roth, and here are the links to get you started until I can write a post about hearing her speak at SCBWI Western WA events this week.

Profile on agent query:

Her own blog:

Caren Johnson Literary Agency blog:

Insider info from one of her local clients, David Patneaude on the SCBWI Western WA blog:

Q&A on Joelle Anthony's blog March 26, 2008:

Interview on Alice's CWIM blog January 26, 2009:

Follow her on

And if you are really nosy with time on your hands:

Check out her pottery:
Her photostream on Flickr:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Queen of England Judges a Book by the Cover

At the bookstore, the Queen of England (see profile on the right for explanation), who is picture-book age, determined that she wanted a particular book to come home with her. A young adult book.

I was so worried about appropriateness of content after noting the trendy cover art, that I didn't even read the title. I offered her ANY picture book she wanted. Nope. When I asked her what she wanted, she said it must be blue, it must have pink hearts on it. And it must have swirly letters. This, of course, was what the YA book looked like.

I went back to eyeball it, and the heavens parted and angels sang, for lo, it was Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. A book I remember from my pre-teen years as being pretty tame, and especially so when compared with some of the edgier works that grace the YA shelves these days. It came home with us- I figure she can read it later when age appropriate.

But what sticks with me is that this was a good reminder about how people select books. Despite what we all want to think- that the hook we work so hard to craft in that first sentence will grab a reader-much of book sales rely on capturing a reader's attention before they even read a word. Covers are generally not transparent, so something other than your words has to convince a person to pick-up the book first.

You put a lot of thought into what goes between the covers, but someone else is going to create what goes on the outside to entice a reader. A lot is conveyed in cover art, and it is usually designed to appeal to the book's target audience. Ever notice how genre book covers have certain similarities? Don't believe me? Go check- wander those aisles and examine color and font and cover art. All those visual cues lead up to what a person will initially think your book might be about. Can you guess what yours should (or might) look like, based on what you see?

I love how some trends show-up on so many books, you have to wonder how any one of those books stands out. I'm sure there is a good dose of circadian mimicry- one look worked, so other books in that genre that come along should try and grab the same attention.

I also find horror stories about covers interesting. We've all heard about the book with a character of one race, showing a different race on the cover, or a different physical look (she's supposed to have long red hair, not short blond!) or a cover that screams romance when the story inside is really more sci-fi/fantasy.

Check out book cover websites and blogs for information on cover art and book design, and ponder what your book's look might be:

Children's and YA covers and book design on Jacket Whys , Jacket Knack, Mishaps and Adventures, Apple and the Egg

The NY Times Book Design Review

And a last thought: Reader customizable covers? What would you put on the cover of classics? Look at My Penguin!