Monday, February 6, 2012

Why #AADNOLA doesnt work with cover models (comments welcome)

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.

37 comments:

Robin K said...

I am so busy at AAD I cannot imagine having the time to window shop. Please do not change a thing, I love the convention as it is!

Tilly Greene said...

At AAD readers, authors, cover artists, publishers, agents, editors and other industry professionals are there to talk about what we love, books!

Do we really need a cover model there to make it fun, entertaining and interesting?

Personally, I've gone to AAD all three years and quite like where it's focused - on all sorts of BOOKS, the folks that WRITE them and those who READ them!

Leigh Ellwood said...

I agree with Tilly. I attended the first three AADs and I wasn't disappointed by the absence of cover models. I had a great time meeting people and checking out new books.

I have nothing against the eye candy, but there are other venues where they can be appreciated.

Pamela said...

I am a big, huge, ginormous fan of this policy. Thank you.

Jennifer@The Book Nympho said...

Although many of the cover models are hot I don't care to see them. I want more time with the authors that write the hot males in books.

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I'm going for the books and authors- the cover models are no big deal to me.

I haven't been to RT though I've heard about all the cover model drama. Sure they might be nice to look at but they shouldn't be the focus of a book convention. And I've heard they can cause a lot of drama. No surprise.

I'm not interested in drama of that kind.

I'm all about the words and the authors that create them.

Anonymous said...

I don't care to have cover models there at all. My problem with AAD is the fact that there are limited slots for authors, while the organizers talk about meeting favorite authors. Upon reading the registration information, I didn't get an author-welcoming feeling at all. Things are approached with a heavy hand, with long lists of rules and instructions. I've heard bad and good things about the con and I just may be one that cancels. Since I'm an author, I doubt I'll be missed.

Proud Bookworm said...

I agree with Stella. I will attend AAD for the authors, not cover models.

mrsworldwidewebb said...

I am an AAD "virgin" and I can NOT wait for this convention as it is in my "backyard"..(I live near Baton Rouge)..Anyway, I am totally loving this reader and author time. I do NOT want cover models..LOL Yeah they look good but they really do NOT offer much about the reading and the books.. I love the fact that this is authors and readers..LOVE LOVE LOVE this do not change it Stella!

Ann Mayburn said...

I love a good cover and can honestly say I spend an obscene amount of time looking at cover models for my books, but I agree that having them at AAD doesn't really fit the feel of the convention.

Plus, I tend to become a tongue tied spazz around super handsome guys so it works in my favor not to have them there. ;) I'm enough of a hot mess as it is around crowds without a hormone surge turning me into a drooling lump at the sigh of Greek Gods walking among us. ;)

Stella Price said...

Hi Anon...

AAD has a author cap because its a limited engagement in order to keep it worth the money for the readers. at AAD there is 1 author for every 3 and this is appealing to readers.

other cons you have a Larger author acceptance and that takes away from the reader acceptance in so much that the reader gets lost. I'm sorry that you aren't happy with the guidelines but it is what has allowed us to grow and make the readers happy, and that, above all is what matters.

I haven't ever hidden any information about being an author at the con, nor have I ever tried to be heavy handed. This con works because its one person running it, always with the READER in mind. Therefor, guidelines and early author acceptance aren't hidden because it allows for the authors that want the readers attention to know what the score is.

Also, cons like the Lori foster event, and RAW, even ROMCON if I'm not mistaken, have author caps. Small conventions need the caps so that its manageable for the staff and readers.

Carolline Greene said...

I am attending for the authors and to discuss books. Cover models do not factor into my decision for attending. I am not even sure I would recognize any of the cover models.
Sure I glance at the cover when I pick up a book, but I immediately flip it over to read the back before I purchase it. I don't know anyone who purchases a book solely on the cover.

C.S. Maxwell said...

No cover models is fine by me. I am coming to have fun with my friends and the great women who write such wonderful books.

Louise said...

I will be a first timer at AAD, so maybe this doesn't really apply to me, but... Cover models are pretty, there's no denying that. But I much prefer the opportunity to talk with an author and find out what they were thinking when they wrote a particular scene or gave a character a certain trait to getting my pic taken with a hottie, so this doesn't bother me at all.

I'm really looking forward to AAD!

Boone Brux said...

I certainly have no problem nixing cover models. Don't get me wrong, they're an important part of a book and I don't mean to devalue their worth. But as a fairly new author I'm more focused on meeting readers who are passionate and psyched about connecting with authors.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everyone. I don't buy a book based on the cover, but on the words within. Yes, I may pick up a book based on the cover, but I don't make any decisions without reading a little of the story first. Some of my favorite novels have covers that don't include models at all, so I really won't miss their presence. And really don't give them a thought when I'm at RT.

At the same time, I have to agree with anonymous. I'm an AAD virgin and considering I've been told this is the place to meet and see my favorite authors, with only 80 authors being considered featured vs 320 eager readers eager to do the same thing I am, I'm wondering exactly how well I'll get a chance to talk with them.

I have to agree with anonymous on the feeling of the con at this point to. There are a lot of rules and regulations to be considered "featured" and I've really been wondering if it's worth the hassle. For something that's suppose to be a lot of fun, it hasn't been so far.

BlackwaterMama said...

Yes, Eye Candy is awesome to look at. And yes, sometimes, that's why I pick up the book. But the author's words and the story is what stays with you. thank you for not having the distraction and since this is my first AAD, I'm looking forward to meeting the authors! thanks, Stella. And if they don't like it, they don't have to come!

CndGypsy said...

This will be my first time at AAD, and I'm really looking forward to it. As an author, one who i=has recently returned to writing and conventions after a lengthy sabbatical, I'm thrilled at the no cover model policy. I really want to reconnect with readers, other authors, and industry professionals in a productive and stress-free atmosphere.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Darynda said...

I am a little in love with you right now, Stella. Don't get me wrong, I love looking at hot guys as much if not more so than the next girl, but I am not always comfortable having them at these conventions. In all honestly, I always wonder what they must think about us. LOL

Jessa Slade said...

> we focus on the words inside

This. Always this.

I love a sexy cover as much as the next girl, and I'm always fascinated to hear how the artists work to convert those words into images, but as for having the covers in the flesh... I guess I just like the fantasy to stay in my head :)

As for how AAD treats authors and readers, I attended for my first time as a reader last year and loved it so much I HAD to come back as an author this year!

Stella, you run a wonderful event with its own unique spirit. There's something out there for everyone, and AAD is for me!

Melissa Schroeder said...

I have been to AAD, RT and Romcon, and I have to say AAD is the best out of the three hands down. I do not want to go there to talk with authors. I want to mingle with the readers, have fun, give BOOKS away. Yes, it is hard to get in as an author. But then, now that it is super popular, people want to register as authors. I am pretty blunt and very honest because I don't want readers to spend money and be disappointed. There is a reason AAD is almost sold out where Cons that are happening months earlier are not even 75% full. There are issues with every Con, but for reader interaction, laid back atmosphere, and books, books, books, AAD is my pick. Plus, I found RT and Romcon unwilling to work with me on things. Now, I get to have an open bar AND my Cursed n Blood party, and have many opportunities to get to know readers and bloggers. That is the reason it is the only con I attend right now.

Diana Castilleja said...

For the Anons:

Sorry you feel the rules are there to slight anyone. That's not the case. Any event, con or gathering has rules.

As for the author cap, I can tell you, and any author who has attended in the past, as well as any reader, the chance to talk face to face is AMAZING. There is nothing lost in the lower author count to reader ratio. In fact, the whole purpose of this con since the beginning has been for authors and readers to connect, in a comfortable setting. Keeping the limits allows for this while it keeps AAD affordable for everyone.

Whether you're a Featured Author or not, I have seen no lack of opportunity for authors to meet and mingle with the readers or other attendees. Sorry, but that argument simply isn't valid.

As for the cover models, I deeply and gratefully appreciate them and my photographer's works. AAD simply isn't the right, or even the best, venue to introduce them.

I hope you reconsider cancelling. The FA slots are only ONE way to promote yourself. If you don't go, you're missig the other 100+ hours of opportunity.

Cee said...

I had a great time last year, met some wonderful authors, chit chatted in casual settings and attended some really terrific panels. I attend another con last year though, a smaller one and had the same experience and yes they did have a cover model posing for pics and due to long lines for other things or in between panels and workshops I did not see it as a detriment. I had no interest, but others seemed to enjoy it.

I can't wait to attend this year and while the cover models are adorable to look, they aren't the ones that write the books and they aren't the ones that will get me interested in a "new to me" author, so I am just fine with the no model policy. Either way, I am there to see friends, discover new authors, and meet the ones I have not yet met that provide delightful entertainment for me!

Damon Suede said...

COver models don't make me no never mind. I certainly don't need them to add to the general jollity. I just want to hangout with readers and authors... And hell, we're in New Orleans! Eye candy isn't exactly thin on the ground, yo. :)

Midnyte Reader said...

Okay, this is a totally new concept to me. I had never, ever thought in my wildest dreams to meet a model on the cover of a book. Not saying there's anything wrong with it, it just hadn't occured to me.

This will be my first time at AAD b/c I was not able to attend when it was up north in my own backyard. I am looking forward to meeting my fellow bloggers as much as the authors. And of course, going to NOLA with like minded people.

I want to thank everyone who is involved in AAD for all their hard work.

Pyper541 said...

I'm really excited about AAD NOLA, it will be my first con and I've heard both good and bad things. As far as the cover model issue that won't be a problem for this reader. I plan on spending free time checking out the eye candy that will be available in NOLA who needs to pay guys to be there when I can find a guy in a bar to buy my a drink LOL!!!

I'm not worried about the reader author ratio, hanging out on the AAD forum as well as with the JWHconnection for the NOLA Mistress of Ceremonies has me completely at ease with the ratio of authors to readers. I know that I'll get time to spend with the authors that I really would like to meet and also the events being held will provide a great opportunity. The field trips will provide an interesting opportunity and the mixers plus down time will give me a lot of chances to hang out with the other readers who will be attending.

This con seems like the perfect event for me and although it's unfortunate people are choosing to back out "to each his own" I understand that some are backing out due to cover model or other personal issues they've had with the con. But death and/or dismemberment are probably the only things that would keep me from attending. I can't wait, this is going to be an amazing experience and thanks to the AAD staff for all the hard work you've put in. Also welcome to our new PR rep Caroline!

Dawn Chartier said...

As conference co-chair for another New Orleans writers conference (got the grey hair to prove it lol) I couldn't imagine people backing out due to cover models. I feel for you. There are plenty of hot men in New Orleans if that is why you are coming...Plenty of cute cajuns down the bayou too...(and don't forget about the best food in the world)

And like Jess said, I'm attending AAD as a fan this year, and maybe next year I'll attend as an author...

amanda said...

The lack of cover models does not concern me at all. I am happy to hear cover artists will be featured, because that goes right along with the concept of the con and sounds really interesting.

I can understand where people are coming from when they state concern over all the rules and the way the rules are presented. It seems by the 4th year things would be a bit more organized. It isn't so much the rules are not acceptable, but that things seems to change as we go. For example I booked my room the 1st day they were available, then had to rebook and deal with all that. Totally understand that some things can't be avoided. BUT then I'm told sorry after all your trouble you are still going to be forced into a single bed King room. Because you don't have 4 people, you can't have the 2 beds that you went to all the hassle to book. I booked early so I should get whatever bed I want, not have to change for people that come along this late in the game.

Another example - one of the main reasons I decided to go to the con was because of the advertised author field trips. Months later it is stated that a small number of tickets will be put up for grabs and I have to know exactly when to watch for said tickets. This is not how it was presented at all.

I am really excited, but the frustration level is definitely getting high for something that should just be fun... I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out to be the amazing experience I have imagined it will be!! :)

Tori said...

I could care less about cover models. I'm there to finally meet in person authors and other bloggers I have harassed, stalked, fangirled, and made friends with on twitter, fb, ect...

Unless it was Jed Hill. YUM. lol

Kel said...

I am so glad that the focus at AAD is on what's in the books. If I want to oogle cover models, I can stare at the book flat posters.

As far as the Author limits; AAD is an intimate con. As a reader, I get to meet lots of authors, and if some of them are not "featured" well, that just means I get to meet them at dinner or at the bar later on rather than at a panel. I like the relaxed feel. I'll still buy your book if it looks interesting.

Actually, looking at the trends in book buying, I'm more likely to buy your book if I have an interesting conversation with you at you AAD than any other con. I don't feel hunted through the halls like the Rare and Mythical Reader at this convention...

Sidney Ayers said...

To be honest, the last two RT con's I attended, there was some cover model drama and hearsay going around.

I've also heard stories about other cons that have allowed models and there's always some gossip and drama floating around, either about either an author behaving inappropriately or the models themselves.

Nothing against cover models, they're nice to look at and make my books look pretty, but I'd rather people focus on the words inside, not the man-candy on the cover.

PS: Even RT isn't doing their cover model competition this year. Not sure it's for exactly the same reason, though.

Marsha said...

This will be my first year at AAD, so I think being in NOLA I will have plenty of time to look for eye candy if I feel the need. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice but I think it's much more interesting to get everyone's own vision of characters they read about. I didn't even think about that when I signed up.

I am looking forward to meeting other readers, making new friends, drinking a few hurricanes, or my favorite grey goose and spending time with the authors of the books that I love.

SmittenWithBadBoyHeroes said...

Stella luv, you're doing the right thing! Having cover models is not in the spirit of the event. I look forward to meeting the authors, bloggers and making new reader friends. I love the eye candy as much as the next girl but its not the place. I agree with you 100%.

Tracie said...

I'm glad there are no cover models. I fly from Australia and I'm attending because I have the opportunity to meet the authors behind the characters I love, make wonderful new friendships and have fun.

Crystal said...

AADNOLA will be the first con I've attended but hopefully I will be able to attend more. I'm so excited. In all reality I never even thought of the cover models being there. I want to attend because of the stories I have read from these amazing authors not the covers. I read mostly on my Kindle so 90% of the books I read I never even see the cover except when buying on amazon. I have no problem with this policy & I think it's a good one. This is supposed to be about the authors and the worlds they let us all be a part of. Not the cover of the novels.

Laurie (BittenbyParanormalRomance) said...

I agree with Jennifer@The Book Nympho said...
Although many of the cover models are hot I don't care to see them. I want more time with the authors that write the hot males in books.

Laurie

Robin K said...

OK, I commented first and said I would not have time for window shopping... but the more I read the worse I feel.

Perhaps the models wanted to come to meet the readers and socialize. Perhaps they'd like to meet the authors as well. Perhaps there is a shy model out there would is more comfortable with the industry because we understand what they do.

Perhaps I live in a world of lollipops and gumdrops. But none the less, if there is a cover model reading these comments, please know that I do appreciate what you do and not just for "looks". Keep up the good work! *hugs*