The blame game. Or the credit game. In the field of publishing, the issue of blame and credit gets so fuzzy as to be almost impossible for the average reader to navigate it.
I know that because as a reader (before I started doing profic), I had a really skewed understanding of publishing. When I “published” fanfiction, a process that largely involved posting chapters on LiveJournal, I was responsible for everything.
I decided if a story had enough Stargate in it to interest Stargate users and whether to put up a link on the Stargate communities. I created the cover art and tried to make sure that the picture matched the “tone” of the story. I wrote, and edited (or failed to edit) the chapters. I decided on the publishing schedule. Would I do an “every-other-day” thing or post once a week? Maybe I would let people hang as I posted whenever I felt like.
I had phenomenal cosmic power!! Bwhahahahaha
Yeah, okay, maybe not. However, I had power over my work.
Now, I read reviews, and I think… um, y’all know that wasn’t me, right? Two people were talking about my Long, Lonely Howl cover. One loved it, the other wondered what was wrong with me.
First, I’m just saying that I adore this cover, so if you don’t like it, we’ll agree to disagree. I’ll also point out that most people are on my side with that one. Now my first Blowback cover???? Oh lord… rip away, honey. Rip. Away. Luckily the paperback got a shiny new cover that doesn’t inspire barfing.
However, I’m off topic here. My point is that I’m not responsible for that cover. I’m not a professional artist, and Paul Richmond created the Long, Lonely Howl cover. I adore it, and I love that it shows all four men because the sex includes all four men. But he also managed to show that Casey and Nathan are the emotional center of the novel. But, I don’t get the credit for any of that. That’s Paul’s brilliance. I do get credit for the Shepherd, Slave, and Vow cover though. I’m damn proud of that.
But guess what? I didn’t make the cover for Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts. Do not complain that Ondry is a human with a tail and use the cover for evidence. Ondry is a creature with many traits in common with a reptile. He doesn’t have a belly button. He has a fora—a spot on his neck where the lining of the egg once connected to his body. His tail certainly does not have barbs because if it did, the tail sex would have an entirely different sort of ending, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
I am also not responsible for release schedules (trust me, having a book released two days before the publishing house put out thirty-some Christmas stories so that I had a grand total of forty-eight hours on the “new release” page was NOT my idea.
I have no control over formatting, so if you don’t like the fonts, I don’t know what to tell you.
I don’t control editing and whether my book uses the Oxford comma or puts internal thoughts in italics.
I don’t control who gets free copies.
I don’t control how flashbacks are signaled in the text.
I don’t control the PR… or which outlets you can use to buy my books.
No, I don’t know if something will be released in paperback.
No, I didn’t write the “tags” for the story. Sorry.
You know, that’s a lot of “no,” and for the most part, I think that’s good. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my story that I don’t have a readers’ eye for it anymore. I don’t see the way someone else is going to experience my world because I have the entire universe in my head. Seriously… if you ask me a question about the future of any of my guys, I can tell you.
I know how a former officer’s wife is going to drag Charleston into the world of being a private investigator. I know why Miguel can “donate” energy to Nikolai. I know what will happen with the bat’l war. I know who Miss Dolphinia will end up with, and exactly how Vin is going to nearly destroy his relationship with Dylan. I know what will happen with Shan’s brother Naite, and why he is such a closed off bastard and who is going to bring him out of that shell, and I know why Lysias is so damn good with the animals.
And knowing all that sometimes makes me the WORST reader of my books. I know too much, so I don’t see the holes because I know how every damn one is going to be eventually filled if we keep following the characters.
So publishers and editors step in and save me from myself. Or rather, they save readers from me.
However, that doesn’t mean that I get the blame or the credit for advertising… or product placement… or cover art… or editing… or layout design… or… or… or…
You get my point.