Daily Archives: November 19, 2011

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Book Covers

November 19, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

By Member at Large Monica Stoner, w/a Mona Karel

Deep in the recesses of my overstuffed memory is a ditty that supposedly did the rounds at a SciFi Convention. To the tune of “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”

“There’s a dragon on the cover of my book
There’s a dragon on the cover of my book
He is green and he is scale-y but he’s nowhere in my tale-y
There’s a dragon on the cover of my book.”

In the process of research of this ditty, I came across several other stanzas, including a bimbo on the cover, and a castle on the cover (for a book set in Seattle) and slightly different wording. The ending I remember referred to having a “wrong” cover is still better than finding one’s book in a remainder pile. By the way, if you Google that first line you can have a lot of fun missing out on your NaNo count while doing research.
Mind you this was a long time ago, before even Rocket Books (remember those?) had been created. Authors had no say in their covers, and were occasionally seen to wince when presented with the scantily clad heroine and the buff hero in excruciatingly tight trousers, open shirt, blond hair flying in the wind–never mind that he’s written as a brunette and he’s French. They were told the publisher knew what sold books much better than any writer.

Fast forward to now, and look at the changes in the publishing world. Digital books, print on demand, self publishing, author input on covers. And what do we see on many books? Bare chests, flowing hair, large breasts–and that’s the male. Seems even when the option exists to have input on our covers, authors are opting for the beef cake.

Do these covers really sell more books, even when they’re only displayed on the computer screen because we read electronically? Is there really more market for headless bare chested men with impossibly large breasts and muscles where no one has ever seen muscles?

I realize some books lend themselves to these covers, since they are written more erotically. But not all of them. A friend did a survey for the cover of her second space opera book, showing various covers, and the most popular was the one with a bare chested man, with planets and space ships in the background. So maybe those covers do serve a purpose.

I’m contemplating covers since Black Opal Books has offered to publish my second book. The working title is “Teach Me To Forget,” and it’s about a photographer and a writer. So should I have a well muscled nekkid chested guy on the cover, holding a camera? I feel fortunate with the cover on “My Killer My Love,” since it conveys the mystery man in the woods concept, but I wonder if I should have looked farther for a more revealing photo?

What do you think, as writers and readers? Would you be more likely to pick up a book by an unknown author if the cover could qualify for serious eye candy?

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