{Between the Lines}

The Agents of Books & Such Literary Management Muse About Books, Publishing, and Life

Timing the Reveal

Wendy Lawton

To reveal or not to reveal details about your book early in the publishing process, that is the question. Let’s debate whether it is better for an author to try to build interest in his book by revealing tidbits along the way or to make the reveal an event that happens on the day the book releases.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog, What Not to Share, that offered ten things I suggested were not to be shared. dreamstime_xs_61740296I was surprised at the pushback I received on some of the suggestions. It sparked a great discussion. So let’s look at this two of the issues and discuss them further. I understand that authors are totally wrapped up in the book they are writing and it feels natural to share details along the way. When the publisher finally gives the go ahead to the final cover, what can be more fun than a big reveal on the author’s social media?

I still lean toward being strategic about the timing. The bestselling authors I’ve worked with have used this to their advantage. Clumping the sales (and pre-sales) into the release week make it much more possible to show up on a bestseller list. How can we make those kinds of sales happen? By making the reveal a big event– the culmination of teases and hints, perhaps. But the excitement hits when the reader can take action. The reader sees a cover and hears talk about the book and they can run out to the store or click over to their favorite online retailer and buy the book.

I asked a couple experts about the cover reveal. Here’s what I wrote:

Pre-pub Cover— I know there are two schools of thought here, but at Books & Such we don’t believe in sharing your cover until the reader can click a link and buy the book or pre-order the book. But what about the all important “cover reveal” on social media? Many authors believe that it is a way to build excitement for their upcoming book. I maintain that we only have so much brain power. I cannot see a cover three months in advance and maintain an intent-to-buy that long, even if it’s one of my favorite authors. You know what happens when the book comes out? I look at the cover, and it looks vaguely familiar and I think, “I believe I’ve already read that book. It looks way too familiar.”

Pamela Clements, Vice President, Associate Publisher at Worthy Inspire said, “I am all about both the cover reveal and the ‘I’ve got a book deal’ posts, but at the right times.  I sent a cover to an author yesterday for her approval. She asked if she could post it.  I asked her not to post it until our sales team had begun their calls and it was up on Amazon and other retail sites for pre-order. I think that is plenty of time to share the news and, if people are really excited, they have a way to pre-order.  I never want to frustrate a potential buyer by telling her about a book that she can’t purchase.”

Noelle Buss, Marketing manager for Fiction at Bethany House said, ” On the first point [cover], we don’t necessarily encourage authors to share prior to the cover going up on retailers sites– we tell them they run the risk of the sales team thinking the cover needs to be altered– so what they shared a couple weeks before may prove wrong. Instead, in response to authors desiring to have the priviledge to share their covers first with fans before retailers do or super bloggers like Rel Mollet, we allow them the option to share early.” And Noelle is not worried about affecting sales when readers can’t purchase. She believes the author’s reach is relatively limited and consists mostly of their dedicated fans. “Those people will wait and be continually reminded about the book’s release as they see the author’s facebook post or read their newsletter.”

So, two schools of thought there.

In my what Not to Share blog post I also wrote:

Details of Book Just Contracted— It’s tempting to tease with the storyline or share tidbits about the content of your newly contracted book. Don’t do it. Keep it under wraps until the publisher is ready to announce the book or until it goes up on online sites. For all you know, the publisher might feel this book is so hot he’s trying to get it out there before anyone else jumps on the bandwagon. In our industry we are all friends and so we think we can share freely. We lose sight of the fact that we may actually be friendly competitors. Let your publisher lead in when to share details.

Here’s what Pamela Clements commented: “OH MY GOODNESS.  Not that I or any of my colleagues would ever steal an idea or rush a book to market in order to beat another book of similar subject matter – but there is no reason to tempt fate.  It’s like I don’t keep chocolates on my desk. I can’t eat what I don’t have.  On a slightly different note, as there is nothing new under the sun – there could be three books on similar topics coming out at the same time, but if everyone learns about them when the sales cycle begins and they are all already in development, there can be no blaming or accusing even if it was innocent.”

Noelle Buss, dealing specifically with fiction sees it differently. She said, “Honestly, I’ve never thought about or heard anyone in editorial discuss when it is too early to mention the details of a book. If that is a concern– that the idea  might be stolen– I would just recommend it be mentioned in vague terms. Saying it is a mail order bride story in Baton Rouge doesn’t give people much to work with.

Again, no consensus. So tell me, what do you think? Do you have a strategy? Which makes more sense to you?


Should an author have a strategy for the online cover reveal? Click to Tweet

It’s fun for an author to talk about the book in process but is it counter-productive? Click to Tweet