Authors After Dark has been challenged recently about the policy on no cover models. I figured I would enlighten everyone on why I have chosen this, including my reasons and stipulations.
AAD is about the readers getting to know the authors they love, talking about the books the author writes and getting immersed in the characters, the writing and the stories.
AAD is also a nonprofit convention and we work to keep it cheap so that readers don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to meet the authors they love and still have money to buy books… the one thing that brings us together. And everyone (including myself) pays to attend this convention. AAD doesn’t make money off it, so comped registrations (for contests or auctions) are paid BY ME out of POCKET. Agents, editors, publishers, authors, readers, everyone pays the same price and I focus on their feedback.
Author feedback to AAD indicates that many feel cover models detract from their time with the readers. They are paying for the privilege they deserve the spotlight.
Reader feedback to AAD indicates that they love the programing and the atmosphere of AAD, their main priority being to spend time with their favorite authors.
Cover models take away from that. Now you don’t have to agree with me, but that is how I feel. Cover models are what’s on the front of your favorite book, not what is inside, and often times don't match the actual characters in the book. At AAD, we focus on the words inside, because really that’s what we are selling, our WORK. Of course, a good cover attracts new readers to purchase, but it's the story that stays with a reader.
With so many conventions rocking the cover model thing, AAD doesn’t have to, and I prefer not to. Safety and comfort are first on my list when it comes to my attendees. After seeing first hand at other cons the inappropriate behavior that can result, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted at AAD, and both authors and publishers have respected it. Readers have appreciated that the focus stays on their opportunities to get to know their favorite authors.
AAD’s programming and focus isn’t developed with Cover Models in mind. Programming is and has always been spotlighting the author and their work, not the pretty candy on the cover. Often times, authors have little or no say in the actual cover art and the cover model has never read the book. Instead, AAD does include programming featuring cover artists so readers can talk to the artist about how they designed the covers with the author's work in mind.
AAD has fast become a con readers want to attend because of its programming and price, if there has been a contingent of readers that go to see the cover models, they visit different conventions.
While this might seem harsh, it has worked for us the past three years, going on #4 and beyond with our attendance growing from 50 to the need to cap registration at 400 attendees. Publishers that work with cover models respect our policies and most authors do as well (and if they don’t, well they just don’t attend.) AAD is not for everyone, so we aren’t offended if people decide that because of these policies they will not attend. Its nothing personal to the models, but in this industry the spotlight should always be on the author when it comes to the reader, because without the author, those models wouldn’t have a place to show their talents.