Last week I saw a market report on a new-to-me publisher. The genres that they described are those I love but I didn’t know a single thing about this publisher. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if they were a children’s publisher. I Googled their name and took some time poking around their site and I’m glad I did. This is publisher is now on my “no thanks” list.
It wasn’t their submissions policies. That all looked legit and fairly typical. Face it, there’s a pretty wide range of submission policies out there from a synopsis and three chapters to full manuscripts. Nothing in what they asked for set off any alarm bells, so I clicked on the catalogue.
Their catalogue was arranged with 3 or 4 books per row. I glanced at the titles on the first row. Nothing made a huge impression good or bad so I scrolled down. One of the covers looked familiar. Too familiar. I scrolled back up the page. Book #1, Row #1 had a cover created from a very recognizable stock photo. Book #3, Row #2 had a cover created from the same photo.
They had used the exact same photo for the cover. Scrolling through the catalogue, I found 14 books with the same cover. Sure, the title and author’s name varied but it was the exact same photo. Not cropped differently. No colors altered. Just slapped down on the page.
When I see a publisher that puts this little effort into their books, I run in the other direction. I may not be a book designer but even I know that this is a bad, bad sign.
Before you submit to a specific publisher, take a good hard look at their web site. Do their covers appeal to you? Try to get ahold of several books. Do you like the overall book design? Book design is a huge part of the package so you shouldn’t go with a publisher whose book design appalls you whether it took them 5 minutes or 5 days. Do your research. Please.