I'd like to share my thoughts on the sensitive topic of BRANDING. To be more specific - book covers. Please take a moment to read. I hope this helps someone.
My 14 year old son attempted to walk out of the house the other
day without allowing me to do my customary “sag check.” Wrong answer. I’m not new to this “daddy” thing so I peeped what he was trying to do and I stopped him before he could escape. Sure enough, his pants were a few inches lower than he knew I would authorize. As you might expect, he wasn't pleased with the lecture he received from me about the importance of presenting himself in a respectable way. But, I’m his father so he had no choice but to listen. Along with my customary “boy... you know I don’t play with you look”, I also explained to him that his image is his BRAND. I told him that while living in these suburbs he is being stereotyped and racially profiled every time he walks out that door. Perception often becomes reality; therefore, he needed to understand that when someone is looking to shoot him (figuratively speaking of course) he should never give that person the bullets. As I look around at the literary scene, I see a lot of young authors who would benefit from someone doing a literary “sag check” on them. Yes, it’s your novel, so you can use vulgarity in the title. Yes, it’s your novel, so you can put thugs holding glocks and stacks of money on the cover. Yes, it’s your book, so you can put a scantly clad female or male model on the cover. But understand this, if your novel gets dismissed as “porn on paper” or “hood ignorance”, and readers choose not to sit their prejudices to the side and give it a chance, it’s no one’s fault but your own. YOU chose to BRAND your work in that fashion. YOU chose to run the risk of being pre-judged and stereotyped in a negative manner. The outcome of your BRANDING choices start and stop with YOU. Just like my son can’t control public perception (and the subsequent public reaction) to his appearance, YOU as an author can’t control the way people perceive and treat your novel based on its appearance.
Moral to this story: Choose your BRAND wisely because once you get that literary tattoo, it takes a lot of time and money to have it removed.