Friday, April 25, 2008

The whiff of desperation

How many times have you picked up a book because of its cover? I have, many times. And while it's true that you can't always judge a book ... etc. at least good design, clever graphics or a witty title can pique your interest enough to make you have a leaf through.

Which is why, if I were Alex Chance or Brett Battles, I'd be spitting blood if my publisher had done this (see above) to me. The whole scheme of 'cloning' a cover smacks of desperation and says to me that the publisher doesn't believe in its author. 'Don't worry ... we'll make yours look like a Thomas Harris book. Then it'll sell.' How many Dan Brown cloned covers have you seen?

It's insulting to the author, insulting to the reader.

John Soanes collects these covers on his excellent blog (where I nicked the pics above) - it's a great blog and well worth a visit. Click here. And he didn't even pay me to say that.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stevyn - I was wondering if I was overdoing the 'Twins' posts recently, but I like to think that as long as publishers keep putting them out, I'll keep having a go at them (hence my posting label about fish in a barrel).

John

Gienna said...

I think publishers often get book covers wrong ... And authors often have no say, especially if they are mid-listers.

I wrote a book on Celtic Mythology. It focused on the the ancient gods and goddesses, the truly old myths that formed the basis for the later, more romanticised versions of the stories, and fun information about the Celtic clans, such as the fact that they sometimes fought naked. Pre-Christianity, pre-Arthur, pre- Knights of the Roundtable.

Guess what they put on the cover? Two knights with crosses on their chest engaging in sword play.

Argh!

Not being Dan Brown, there was nothing I could do about it.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Hi Gienna - I know ... it drives you nuts. John's picked up on a hugely important topic here - that of quantity over quality. Of course market forces will direct matters to an extent (and I don't imagine many authors will moan at increased sales) but when it's such a blatant rip-off, it devalues everyone. I guess your 'knights with crosses' came striding in on the back of Dan Brown too - some publishers would use anything even vaguely Knights Templar-ish if they could get away with it.

Which brings us to a whole other area of discussion, that of pseudo-history. Doesn't it bug you just how much bunkum and tosh is seen in bookshops under the history section? If you haven't read it yet, read Damian Thompson's 'Counterknowledge' or Nick Davies' 'Flat Earth News'. I knew there was a problem ... I just didn't realise how big a problem ...

having my cake said...

I was standing in the queue at our local Post Office which has a stand of novels for sale conveniently situtated so you can peruse them whilst you wait.

I couldnt help but notice that the majority were romantic period fiction and, although by different authors, the covers were incredibly similar as if there was some blanket design in use for all novels in that genre.

I tell you, if ever I get a book published, there's going to be something striking on the cover. Mind you, I guess my half-naked derriere probably wont make it onto the stand at the local Post Office :)

Stevyn Colgan said...

And that, my dear Cakey, will be their loss and ours. x

John Soanes said...

Rather bewilderingly, it appears that the latest edition of Harris's 'Red Dragon' has a Venus Flytrap on the cover.
Not a Mah Jongg tile or a detail from a Blake painting, but instead a flower which doesn't feature in the story, as far as I can recall (it's been a while, admittedly).
What were they thinking (if indeed they were thinking at all)?
J