I came across this book the other day, as I often do when visiting a book store, which is big retail sale area with lots of books in it, but that’s not important right now. Said book had a cover and in the cover I saw the following:
- A young Caucasian female, in her early to mid twenties, although she could still audition for a role in a “teen drama”;
- She has low cut jeans or leather pants and a short shirt that stoped somewhere north of the navel and highlighted her breast,
- She canters to the left or right highlighting her child-bearing hips,
- She has a knife in hand, not a sword or axe or even a spear, but a knife,
- The background is hazy/smoky and you can see the silhouette of a monstrous creature, wolf or a handsome man embedded in the mist.
Guess what type of book am referring too? An urban fantasy one, especially one where the heroine is all post-modern and liberated. Made worse if the girl in the cover has her back to the viewer/reader and has a tramp stamp (because nothing says “I’m a woman, here me roar” like the word tramp).
OK, but what does all of that have to do with the title of the post? (You ask.)
Everything. (I answer.)
Because I’m not just talking about just ONE urban fantasy book cover, I’m talking about 90% them. Same thing with space based science fiction (flying space ships) and fantasy (a guy/gall with a sword/staff and a dragon). Now the individual cover may have top notch art and impressive graphics, but all of that is for not if it looks like EVERY OTHER BOOK IN THE SAME SHELF!
Wasted marketing budget=EPIC FAIL!
Now, it is a well known fact that covers lie. The young lady in question may not even own any leather pants and it’s smart enough to pack an assault rifle when hunting demons and the like, but guess what nobody is going to bother reading about it if it looks like the the rest of the books in the genre. No writer can expect much success for their novel when it is washed in a sea of colorful sameness. Unless I am familiar with the writer through some other means (blog, reviews, friend reference, etc) I probably ogle at the sexy butt for a second or two and then move on.
Now, many stories are successful in spite of this, but I got to ask, how many books get left in the shelf because of it? At least the store employees know where it goes in the store.
Now, I don’t have any ideas about what to do about this, so I welcome any and all suggestions.
And now for an example of the exact opposite: