Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Cover Rant

As an unpublished author, I can’t honestly say this could qualify as anything more than a rant.  I’ve never had the opportunity to wonder how a publisher would approach the cover art for a book written by yours truly; I can imagine a certain amount of trepidation.  Just how important can cover art be?  Well, depending on the genre, I imagine near make-or-break.  Genre fiction would likely be one of the more influenced.  The story is definitely the key ingredient to the sale of a book, but for science fiction, fantasy and horror, I can only assume it would have a certain impact.

I understand series that have been in print for years like to refresh their look with new covers.  I remember reading the David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean series and years later realizing that they had somehow gone through a total revamp; the same could be said for Terry Goodkind’s Sword of the Truth series or any other that has seen prolonged popularity.  Both publishers updated the covers with something that remained true to the feel of the stories.  You can’t look at them and wonder what genre you’re holding.

Downloading books to my Kobo, I decided to revisit an old Christopher Golden series.  I have the first three in physical form, the latest two in e-book format.  When I bought them, I seriously wondered what the heck I was getting into.
By case in point, I raise the following changes:

Take away reference to the Bram Stoker award (which a non-genre reader may or may not even get), why do I get the impression I’m about to read a Harlequin novel?  Here’s the latest cover, a continuation of the ‘new and current’ cover art.  I understand it is the publisher’s responsibility to make the book as sellable as possible, yet I have to wonder what possible paradigm brought this and the remainder of the current artwork as the cover art for a horror novel.  Sometimes I really wonder WTF is going through their minds….. 

Really, the scariest thing about this whole scenario is that they (the publishing house) somehow sought and received approval to place these on the cover of a vampire novel.
The most recent book I’ve completed reading is Throne of the Crescent Moon.  Very good read, highly recommend it; great pacing, fantastic dynamic between characters and a refreshing and new spin on the genre.  One look at the cover I knew what was what: main characters are there, action is defined and bad guys are suitably hinted at.  I view this cover as a 10/10 for content and presentation.  Hopefully the author had some play in its concept.

1 comment:

  1. First of all: YES, totally.

    Secondly, I've seen two other great cover rants on girls and race, respectively (and I totally recommend checking those out if you have a few minutes.)

    Both of those are politically charged, but I think what they have in common with your thesis here is that in all cases, skewing the cover does not serve the story. We wouldn't advertise a Pomeranian as a border collie, or a burger as a steak, so what's the deal with trying to sell brown as white, or warrior-woman as sex-kitten, or horror as romance? The people who buy for the bait are going to pissed when they discover the switch, and the people who would have loved the book's contents will have passed it up based on its cover!

    Ugh. Anyway. All my sympathy, and an AW fist-bump on the side.

    And secondly: YES, totally.