My authorship equality campaign begins today!
Oh, the woes of being the co-author of an outstanding book (if I do say so, myself), and having my name listed second on the cover!
I can’t imagine that this is a situation that is unique to myself. After all, there are thousands, if not millions of books that have been written by more than one person. Someone’s name always has to come first. The problem is that bookstores, marketplaces, marketing programs, and even social media seem to think that the name listed first on a book cover implies that this author is somehow more important to the final product.
This is not necessarily true!
While Amanda and I both agree that if there were ever a project that was divided precisely down the middle, it was this one, the fact remained that one of our names had to come first on the cover. Neither one of us minded having our names listed as first or second. It didn’t matter. We knew that we were equal contributors.
The final decision was jointly made based on ease of search-ability. We wanted to make our book easier to find.
The name “Amanda Giasson” is, after all, far less common than “Julie B. Campbell”. Furthermore, there is already a very famous author named Julie Campbell (also listed as Julie Campbell Tatham in some of her works), who is best known for the books that she wrote in the “Trixie Beldon” series. While adding my middle initial to my name did help me to stand out a little bit from the thousands upon thousands of other Julie Campbells out there, it still wasn’t as unique as Amanda’s name.
That made the decision quite easy for us. We were quite pleased with the choice that we made, and still are.
However, at the same time, having my name listed second on the cover of the book seems to have dropped me into a kind of secondary status in the bookselling world. What is with that?
When Love at First Plight first appeared on the digital selves at Amazon, Amanda was automatically listed as “author”, while I was automatically listed as “contributor”. I contacted them immediately and their customer service was exceptional. I don’t think an hour had passed before the website was completely updated and I was granted “author” status. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the wonderful support they provided. Still, the fact remained that having my name listed second automatically implied that my contribution wasn’t equal to the author who was listed first and it needed to be manually changed.
Another example is at Barnes & Noble. When you perform a search for our book, the results are listed as though Amanda is the exclusive author. It isn’t until you click on the book from the search list and see the detailed product page that my own name appears. Again, I’d like to point out that Barnes & Noble has been very good to us and they’ve matched the lowest price in the U.S., to make sure that the paperback and the ebook stay affordable, there. This is not a complaint about the company. It is a statement about the shape of co-authorship credit as a whole.
At Goodreads (an experience that I am greatly enjoying and one that I would recommend to anyone who loves books), despite the fact that I was the one who added our novel to the site’s listings, when I wanted to make a change to the book description, I had to get Amanda’s permission to do so. The reason? She is considered to be the lead author and I am a secondary one.
Is there really no way for a co-author listed second on a book to be seen as an equal author? I find this baffling!
I don’t mind that my name comes second on the cover. After all, with two authors, one of the names must come first. However, at the same time, it seems strange to me that just because my name has been listed second, it is assumed that I am a lesser contributor, that my name isn’t as important in search results, or that I shouldn’t have the same author’s rights to the description of a work of which I am immensely proud.
I feel as though I should be leading some kind of march for the rights of co-authors who are listed second on their books. Should I be distributing ribbons (in red and orange, of course, the first and second colours of the spectrum) to help spread awareness of the plight of second authors?
Should I be standing on rooftops and shouting “My name is Julie B. Campbell and I am proud of my equal authorship of Love at First Plight!”?
Let co-authors everywhere unite!
….hmm…then again, maybe that’s a little dramatic.
Still, I feel that it’s a problem and I wonder if it is something that is ever going to change. Amanda and I have many more novels to add to the Perspective book series. Will I always be secondary, not just second?
Now that I’ve had my rant, I just want to thank Amanda Giasson for being a fantastic friend and co-author who has never let her supreme first-listed-name powers go to her head. 😉
Are there any other co-authors out there who feel the same way? If so, please feel welcome to share in the comments, below.