Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Talking with Jen Greyson about Alterations ...


I got a little confused.

Everyone has a set of authors they stalk for new books and series updates and such. A couple of people had asked for suggestions for Paranormals with a MC that was Latina. I was all too excited to bring this up because it's amazing. So I decided to go do an update stalk. One of the main authors I stalk is Jen Greyson, author of the Alterations Series. I sang praises to her and both books in general because they're just good. They have great stories with a good concept. I love the writing and how engaged I am with our lead, Evy, who is Latina. But when I went to stalk Jen about book 3, I saw the cover on the right.

I almost lost my mind.

We went from what's on the left, to what's on the right. Not only had the cover changed, but the title had changed, and even the blurb had changed. Not to mention the blurb, even though the story itself doesn't change, the blurb makes it seem more male-focused. Like Constantine is the lead.

I lost my mind.

I actually got angry.

So I sent Jen an email and this is how it went ...

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From Me:
Hey there! I just wanted to ask about the re-release of your series. Or is it a re-release? I've noticed the name of the book has changed as well as Evy isn't the selling point anymore, Constantine is? What happened? I'd recently recommended this series to someone who was looking for a latina MC and she asked me about this. I wanted to know what to tell her anyone else who may have a question.

From Jen:
I'm really interested in your feedback on this and I'm so glad you asked.

It is a re-release, but the ONLY thing I changed were the covers and the blurb. The entire story is still the same.

As to why, I don't know that I have a great answer. The covers were fantastic, but they weren't drawing readers in and NA seems to be so male-focused (cover-wise), which leaves Evy and her story as an outlier, even though Constantine is a big catalyst to her growth.

So, it was partially a marketing decision, partially a business decision, and I'm trying not to be an emotional artist about it -- even though I tend to default to wearing that hat :) At the end of the day, I just want to share Evy's journey with as many readers as possible, and it's tough to do in the flooded market (which is what makes amazing bloggers like you who spread the word so precious!)

Like I said, very interested in your feedback.

Ciao,
Jen


From Me:
I have to admit that it kind of upset me. I actually wasn't a fan of the original cover art but I thought it told the story of Evy a lot better. I do, however, see what you mean on the covers being male focused, but I haven't heard of it really hindering anyone before. I just felt like, 'I'm here for Evy. I like Constantine a lot but I'm here for Evy and this isn't a direction I would go with it.' I think I'm just so attached to the fact that this book is lead by a Latina, that Constantine being on the cover threw me for a loop.

I'm sure you heard about #weneediversebooks. With the diversity lacking, Evy being on the cover and the story being about her was something I really felt. I feel like it's gone now and it's just kind of in the pile with every other book that's about a caucasian lead. I'm not knocking your decision, I completely get it. I was just so taken aback by the cover change AND the blurb change that I got worried for Evy in book 3. Almost wondering if she wasnt going to be a lead anymore, but a supporting character to Constantine's lead.

I will relay your message to those who asked, and thanks for getting back to me. I'm looking forward to book 3.


From Jen:
I'm really glad you asked, and thank you for your feedback. I get it, I totally do, because it was honestly a huge struggle to make the decision. On one hand, I want to be about the story, but I have so many mentors telling me that I have to treat this like a business too.... and I hate how that sounds because it makes it sound like I'm in this to make a buck, and yes, part of me wants to make a living at this, because... house payment, but I've been so true to this story, and to Evy's journey--until the cover change. Evy is an insanely powerful heroine... who never needed a man -- and now that we're talking about it, she probably doesn't need one to help her get the word out about her books either, LOL.

I just got an entire box of the print books to take with me to a signing in Vegas -- I'd been really reserved about changing out those covers, and seeing them in print again, is making me second-guess the decision. It's hard to be an outlier, especially when the books are flagging and I really want to see them succeed BECAUSE we DO need diverse books. So badly.

And yeah, you're right about her no longer being the stand out cover anymore -- these covers make her look like she's hiding behind a man in a male-dominated group of covers.

Things for me to think about and ponder....

As for book 3, Evy will always be the lead. Tiana has a massive role to play now too, but I'm tossing around letting her have her own YA series as a spinoff so that Evy's journey stands on it's own without watering it down with another female lead. There's still so much story to tell.

I really really really appreciate your query, and most of all, for being honest with your feedback. Please feel free to post it on the blog -- I'd love to see this turn into a conversation about author decisions and how they affect readers ;)

Ciao,
Jen


From Me:
Thanks so much. I do, absolutely, understand your reasoning and even your fears. I really hope things work out well with the new switch. I'd love for you to succeed with this series and as a writer in general. I love your work and will continue to support you!

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I honestly feel that way but man ... I am still bummed.

Thoughts?

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5 comments:

  1. I recently had this discussion on my blog and I think it's an important discussion to have. I had never heard of Jen Grayson before but I will definitely look her up now. I actually like the first cover better but I understand why she felt compelled to make the change, especially if people are telling her that a cover with a Latina character won't sell well. This is a quandary that most authors of color find themselves in and I think the only way to combat it is to have these kinds of discussions to make people aware of the issue.

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  2. I love, love, love the first covers and Jen's books too! It's so hard to find a foothold in this industry, I can understand why she experimented--and the second cover is hot! However, readers also love powerful women. The question is, when an awesome book like Lightning Rider comes out, how do we help the author gain recognition. Blogs and social media certainly help...is there anything else?

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  3. Great question Amy. I'm starting to think bloggers need to take a more active role in promoting the books and authors they love. It makes me wonder what one author has that another doesn't. Maybe they need a 'street' team? Faith Hunter has several that her Jane Yellowrock books benefit from.

    I'm also wondering, with the diverse books, are they being promoted/reviewed on the bigger book blogs? I consider my blog an indie blog because of its subject.

    What do you guys think?

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  4. I really like this post, Deva!I try to do as much as I can to help promote authors who write outside of the "default". It's not easy but I really try through twitter, blog posts,themes we host on our blog occasionally, tumblr, goodreads. It's a part time job, lol.

    But recently my sister and I were invited to do a presentation on diversity in books at a Bookcon in October so it'll be our first time really speaking publically about the subject.We plan to promote the need there !!!

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  5. That's incredible! I know you guys will have an amazing time and really get some things done. If you need any help from afar, feel free to shout my way.

    Also, do you get hits on your twitter for the blog? I was thinking of starting one for this purpose.

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