BULLIES, SHAMING & NEW COVERS FOR LOST & FOUND and HIDE & SEEK

Lost_Found(2)Today I’m at the OWFI WRITERS CONFERENCE where I’ll be speaking and signing books–and for the first time showing the world the UPDATED COVERS for my suspense/thrillers LOST AND FOUND and HIDE AND SEEK.

I love the new look! What do you think? The third book in the series, SHOW AND TELL follows this new theme. Stay tuned for that cover reveal soon, with another NAME THAT DOG/NAME THAT CAT contest for the animal characters. While all three books are pet-centric with an animal behaviorist hero and service dog viewpoint, my editor and publisher and I believe these new covers will appeal beyond dog and cat loving audience. The timing is good, too, right before the third book comes out.

Many of y’all know that I’ve been in the process of updating the nonfiction book covers–you can see them in the sidebar over there on the right—->. They needed it; styles change, and some of the covers just didn’t look as good as they could, especially the print versions.

But the facelift happened sooner rather than later because of a situation from a couple of weeks ago specific to my HIDE AND SEEK “old cover.” This situation was hurtful, embarrassed and insulted me and my publisher and also angered me. I debated whether to talk about this publicly but…for many reasons, have decided to explain what happened. Scroll on down and I’ll give you the back story about why the covers have been changed.

Hide_Seek(2)I very much liked the “old” covers of my suspense novels. My editor and I went through dozens of versions and even asked Facebook friends for input. Both of the old version of the covers featured a dog–a real life dog that I know–as the “cover model” and it was great fun to highlight that wonderful canine. The HIDE AND SEEK cover also included a cat, because–well, that’s intrinsic to the story and readers demanded it!

Yes, I listen to readers. I feel like we’re business partners so I want y’all to be happy.

So I hope you’ll understand why the pictures of the dog viewpoint character Shadow and the Maine Coon cat Macy have been removed to give the covers a more suspenseful look. You see, covers that feature dogs and cats tend to be thought of as more “cozy mysteries” and…well, these ain’t cozy and tend toward the thriller realm.

BULLIES & WRITERS

I’ve been fortunate in reviews of my books–I know other authors have had issues with “bullies” so it was a new experience for me. Here’s what happened.

My cover (old version) of HIDE AND SEEK was anonymously sent to an online “shame” site that invited anyone to make fun of poorly designed book covers. Now, I’ve been in this writing and publishing game for longer than I care to say, and to survive you need a bit of a thick skin. Having one of my books called a “kindle cover disaster” felt personal, for reasons I’ll explain below. Further, while other covers/comments did poke fun, with my book the submitter described the title font in decidedly unsavory, even lewd tones.

Really? Someone felt that strongly about a font on my book that they felt compelled to make rude comments and invite others to join in–and boy, did they join in! As a result, that “shaming” thread got shared all over the internet with my “terrible cover” headlining articles overseas, re-posted on blogs, and additional unkind references made to the wonderful, caring professional writer who shared a cover quote on the book, Dr. Lorie Huston, because of her association with the Cat Writers Association.

That’s not the first time that mention of CWA raised eyebrows. The organization has been around 20+ years and members must be published to qualify for membership. If you read cat books or articles or view cat videos or pictures, chances are the work comes from a CWA member.

At the time she gave me the endorsement, Dr. Lorie was president of our Cat Writers Association. So these comments hurt me more than anything others might say about the cover design, because Dr. Lorie passed away last year. The CWA website got nearly 300 “hits” as a result, with people making fun of her, the organization, my cover, and then were vastly disappointed that it wasn’t the cats writing the books. 🙂 Nope, the cats (and dogs) just inspire the work. Don’t tell my furry crew, they truly believe they are the authors!

What flabbergasted me was Dr. Lorie’s quote only appeared on the cover of my book prior to the book’s release. It had been moved to the BACK of the cover after the wonderful J.T. Ellison also offered an endorsement, which you can see on the new cover, above, as well.

People must have way too much time on their hands. Yes, it hurt and it still hurts. And it makes me also hurt for the dozens of others listed in that shame-posting who maybe had published their one-and-only book, and now will never take that chance again.

Were some of the posts and comments funny? Well, yes. One fellow actually loved the attention and sold a bunch of books, declaring his cover was supposed to be funny–so good for him!

Was my book cover terrible? I don’t think so but it could have been better–and now it is vastly improved to fit in the mystery/suspense genre. So in a way, whoever wanted to hurt me actually provided a great service. So whoever you are, thank you.

I hadn’t planned to say anything, because frankly, it’s still embarrassing to know that there was probably truth in the criticism. Authors and even editors and publishers may be too close to see such things–I’ve learned a valuable lesson.

And I’m done crying, done with red-face hurt, and done with the anger. I’m revealing more than new covers here because 1) this is part of the biz so I gotta own it,  2) newer writers need to know this crappiocca happens to EVERYONE, and 3) I hate letting bullies win.

Besides, as they say, there’s no such thing as “bad publicity” only “publicity” so maybe it’ll sell an extra book or three. 🙂

Has anything like this ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Were they right? Did you make “lemonade?” Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!


Comments

BULLIES, SHAMING & NEW COVERS FOR LOST & FOUND and HIDE & SEEK — 30 Comments

  1. I saw that and it made me cringe. I will never understand how people can sit behind a computer and that that makes it ok to criticize others. be constructive? sure….but shaming is just hurtful. the changes are great but sad that you had to go through this….

    • I know…saw that “book cover” thread but had no interest in reading or sharing it, just cringed at the thought. And then a friend sent me a private message that my book was included…and again, it took me a couple of days to even bother taking a look. My publisher, bless his heart, just said, “Look at it this way…more publicity for the book!” 😛

  2. Oh, Amy. I’m so sorry this happened to you — of all people! You’re such a loving, thoughtful, gifted and overall fabulous writer and human being.

    Folks can be so mean online, and treat others as though they aren’t human…URGH. I’ve loved all of your book covers — the new one included! I also hope the added PR, as wrongfully hurtful as the means have been, lead to zillions more in sales. You deserve that.

    • Awww….thank you, my friend! I know that the “anonymous” ones are far outnumbered by good, caring and supportive friends, as well as folks I don’t even know. MOST people are good!

  3. Amy, I like your new covers. As a fellow CWA member and cover designer, I can say that I wish they would’ve come about in a more positive light. It never feels good to have something you poured your heart into be talked about negatively. I tried to tell myself the “no publicity is bad publicity” after I received a hurtful review. I know you can’t please everybody- but it still hurts. I think sometimes people have no idea the time and effort that goes into writing a book, getting it published or designing a cover. I applaud you for sharing your story. I also thank you for letting me use your before and after covers in a presentation on covers I did recently. I still have not posted it on YouTube but I will. Kimberly

    • Hi Kim, Glad your presentation went well! I have designed my own nonfiction covers in the past (with mixed results), and am blessed to have input on concept with my publisher for the fiction covers, too. But truly, you can see the difference when a cover is designed and produced by a true professional.

      This writing and publishing business is…well, a business. And a journey. Sometimes we stray off the path but hopefully can hack through the undergrowth to find our way back to the destination.

  4. Looks like my copy of Hide and Seek that came in about a week ago has the new cover on it. I forget what the old one looked like but I swear I remember liking it. I do like the simpler font better, though.

  5. I love the new covers, very suspenseful and thrillerish. But, jeez, what a terrible way to get there. I will never understand why people think they have carte blanche to make fun of and poke others on the internet. Perhaps there’s a book plot in this.

  6. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? I’m all fired up for you, and wish I had somewhere to place my hissy fit. Your covers were lovely. Yes, the new ones will appeal to a broader audience, but that really makes me sad. I’m sorry this happened to you.

  7. *Hugs*
    I’ve been bullied on the internet and even received a death threat when I confronted one bully. (Facebook banned her because she made the threat on her FB page, I sent Facebook the link), and lastly, I just found out this week, that someone who is most likely mentally ill, has constructed a whole fantasy libel scenario about me that she’s been posting to it going on for five months now. I had no idea!)
    Your covers are fine. They do what they’re supposed to do, sell books. Shrug your shoulders and don’t take it personally. Think how awful their lives must be to be so petty in the first place. They could have spent the time building someone or something up. 🙂
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Whatever happened to, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all”? If it’s your job to criticize, then that’s what you do, but why waste the time and just be mean? Thanks for sharing though!

  9. Amy, here’s a big virtual hug. I’m so sorry. I do remember the cover and I liked it very much. Your cover had no place on that site in my opinion. But take heart it happens to the best of them. Here’s Christina Dodd’s experience:

    http://christinadodd.com/christina-dodd-and-the-infamous-three-armed-cover/

    She’s not the only one but I thought (and hope) this will cheer you up. I know it’s not exactly the same situation but it’s in the ballpark, I think.

    Peace,
    Angela

  10. Sheez, some people need to get a life of their own instead of spending time making others’ lives harder. I loved your old covers! But the new ones are cool too. May they sell you lots of books!!

    • Thanks Kassandra. Today, it seems that some folks just have too much time on their hands and it’s always easier to point out others’ shortcomings, I guess.

  11. I love the new covers, Amy! I think they have a lot of mass appeal and are definitely suspenseful in a less is more kind of way. I’m so sorry you fell victim to those internet bullies who hide behind their screens with no manners at all. I know the feeling! But I also know that nothing will get you down!

  12. As if people don’t have enough to do. Really? I have never understood the bullying and why people feel they are justified in doing so. I’m sorry Amy that you’ve had to suffer from this. Even if I did like the old covers, I agree, the new ones will appeal to a much broader audience. And I wish you the best of success with not only the new covers, but the new book as well! 🙂

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