Rick Riordan cheers end of book covers that ‘whitewash’ his black hero

23 November 2015

From The Guardian:

The bestselling American author Rick Riordan has thanked his Russian publisher for no longer “whitewashing” its jacket illustration of his character Carter, an African American boy who has been depicted as white on the covers of various foreign language editions of Riordan’s young adult series.

Riordan’s Kane Chronicles cover the adventures of siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, who are descended from the magicians of Ancient Egypt. Carter’s skin is “dark brown”, like his Egyptologist father, he tells readers in the first pages of The Red Pyramid. His sister Sadie’s is much lighter, as she takes after their mother, who was white. “Carter, you’re getting older. You’re an African American man. People will judge you more harshly, and so you must always look impeccable,” his father tells him.

. . . .

Despite this, Riordan’s foreign publishers in countries including Russia, Italy and the Netherlands have featured cover images of Carter as a white boy. “Pretty art but I’m not amused how they whitewash Carter,” wrote Riordan of the Italian jacket last year.

This July, he provided a link to the Dutch edition of The Serpent’s Shadow, saying that “the whitewashing of Carter Kane continues … Ugh. Like almost all authors, I have no control over covers and the publishers do not ask for my input,” wrote Riordan at the time. “I don’t even see the covers until they are published. But I have made my displeasure known. (It’s not just the Dutch, btw.) I’m sorry: ‘People in our country will only buy books with white people on the cover’ is not a valid excuse.”

. . . .

Nancy Gallt, Riordan’s US literary agent, said that while his foreign contract requires translations to be “faithful and accurate”, the agency and its authors “have virtually no creative control over the book covers – even in the US, much less the 40 or so other countries where Rick’s books are published”.

“With the exception of the US and UK, we don’t even see the covers until they are published, and even with these Rick only has input, not control. Many foreign editions use either the US or the UK cover, but an equal number have original designs which we do not see until the sample editions come in,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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The new Fabio? Inside the too-hawt-to-handle world of a romance novel model

14 November 2015

From The Los Angeles Times:

Cade Patterson grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. From afar, he has always carried a torch for Kara Knight, a fiery redheaded homecoming queen whose rich rancher daddy would never approve of Cade.

But now they’re all grown up. She’s a teacher; he’s a lawman. They haven’t seen each other in almost 10 years. And that’s about to change.

Did I mention they are from Texas? That there are dark family secrets that must be overcome before their love can bloom?

Or that Cade is not just hot, but hawt?

Cade is not a real person; he is the protagonist of a yet-to-be-published romance novella called “Blind Sided.”

He will be brought to life by a chiseled model named Jason Aaron Baca, who, at the moment, is standing under lights in one of California’s countless dream factories — a small photo studio — wearing jeans, boots and nothing else but a smoldering look on his chiseled face.

The author of “Blind Sided” is the prolific, bestselling romance novelist Eileen Nauman, who publishes romances under the pseudonym Lindsay McKenna. The story will be part of a multi-author, western-themed collection with the tag line: “12 cowboy lawmen who are so hot it’s criminal.”

Nauman has chosen Baca to represent her hero because she believes his face and body sell books.

“Jason,” said Nauman, “is probably one of the most wanted and desired models, and the reason is this: Most male models cannot emote, which means if you want them to look sad or sexy or thoughtful, their face never changes. But this guy has a range that is spectacular.”

. . . .

“My readers want to look into the hero’s eyes,” said Nauman, who has sold more than 20 million books in 33 countries. Sometimes Baca’s eyes are his natural dark brown. Sometimes they are Photoshopped into a piercing blue.

“We try to fold, spindle and mutilate the covers into what readers desire,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Times and thanks to Toni for the tip.

Why Do So Many of This Year’s Book Covers Have the Same Design Style?

29 August 2015

From Slate:


Among the many challenges book cover designers face is trying to represent a book’s premise or main character without getting so specific that readers are left with little to imagine.

. . . .

But lately, another cover design trend has been popping up on this summer’s crop of beach reads: the flat woman. Inspired by the “flat design” that’s become standard on the Web, these covers take on a minimalist style characterized by bright colors, simple layouts, and lots of white space. Several different designers and publishers have used this approach on hardcovers and paperbacks alike, especially those aiming for the upmarket-but-still-commercial-fiction-for-ladies sweet spot.

. . . .

Keith Hayes, who designed the Bernadette cover for publisher Little, Brown, told me via email that he didn’t have any intention of using the flat design style or starting a trend when he conceptualized this cover; he was just working “out of the inability to actually draw,” he said.

“Finding an appropriate enough photograph and placing some type on it just didn’t seem special enough,” he said. “It needed a lighthearted cover that would appeal to both women and men and also feel original.” Hayes says he wanted to do an illustrative approach but didn’t have specialty training in that area. “I like to try to solve my design problems on my own. I thought I could do this in a somewhat simplistic way using basic shapes,” he says.


Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Book Cover Twins

17 July 2015

Book Cover Twins
Courtesy of:
Thanks to Steve for the tip.

UPDATE: For more duplicate covers see Reading the Past

14 Classic Novels Rewritten With Clickbait Titles

14 June 2015

From Buzzfeed:
Link to the rest at Buzzfeed and thanks to Tina for the tip.

How to Pose Like a Man

9 June 2015

From The New York Times:

The cover my publisher chose for my new novel, “The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty,” was indeed very beautiful, but more feminine than I would have ideally liked. It was mostly white, but all the way at the top were the gorgeous chin and red lips of a young woman. Not wanting to be a “difficult author,” I decided not to ask my editor to find a new cover. (She had already been kind enough to change it once.) Instead, I decided to counteract the cover by other means, starting with my author photo.

Until the overly feminine book-jacket problem arose, I had intended to use as my author photo a very flattering snapshot that my boyfriend, Richard, took of me eight years ago on the street in Paris at 3 a.m. I’ve been using it as my Facebook avatar for a long time, and I had been looking forward to putting it to professional use.

Now, changing plans, I made an appointment with the great author photographer Marion Ettlinger. On the phone, I told her I wanted to look stern, severe, strict — possibly standing against a white wall, maybe wearing a black cloak or something. “Like a headmistress?” she asked. “Yes, exactly!” I said, thrilled that she understood.

Two days before the shoot, I flipped through a book of Ms. Ettlinger’s photos to get a sense of how authors typically dressed for their portraits. I made a startling discovery: The male and female authors posed differently. The men looked simpler, more straightforward. The women looked dreamy, often gazing off into the distance. Their limbs were sometimes entwined, like vines.

I decided that I wanted to pose like a man. I also thought: No wonder books by women don’t get reviewed as often as those by men. Maybe it was the poses.

. . . .

Midway through the session Ms. Ettlinger said, “You look like a member of a gang of female mountain warriors.” I took this as a compliment.

. . . .

I believe that this unconscious prejudice against women, which is extremely strong in the literary world, is present in almost everyone, including in those of us who object to it the most vehemently. I know that I even detect it in myself, sometimes. That’s why I didn’t want to make things even more difficult for my novel by saddling it with a feminine cover or girlie author photo.

I eventually wiped away my rotted thought, which suited my face as poorly as bad lighting, and we resumed our session. When it was over, I could tell there was something Ms. Ettlinger wanted to tell me. Finally, she said, “The photos will be exactly what you asked for.” This was clearly a warning. I knew she thought the photos might not look “good” in the traditional sense. They wouldn’t be “pretty” or “beautiful.” She said that she would not normally produce photos like these for a woman — she would find more graceful poses, search for more flattering angles. I told her that I understood and that I was grateful she’d been willing to honor my preference.

Link to the rest, including a copy of the author’s book photo, at The New York Times

‘A Gronking to Remember’ Becomes Memorable Lawsuit Against Amazon, Apple

29 April 2015

From The Hollywood Reporter:

A self-published erotic novella entitled Gronking to Remember could be on its way to highlighting the dangers of stripping out the middle-men.

Last year, pseudonymous author Lacey Noonan hit the big time by cleverly picking a title that alluded to the way that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski emphatically spiked a football whenever he scored a touchdown. The title was undoubtedly memorable — so much so that it got heated online attention and soon, mentions on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and other television shows.

The book took a detour from the best-seller list, though, when it was suddenly pulled by some online outlets.

. . . .

[T]he problem with the book might have been something else on the cover, as revealed in a lawsuit (read here) that was filed in Ohio by two anonymous individuals.

“The cover of the book contains a photograph of the Plaintiffs which was taken as part of their engagement journey leading toward their wedding,” states the complaint. “The photograph was appropriated by the Defendants for commercial gain without the permission of the Plaintiffs nor with the permission of any lawful copyright holder.”

The lawsuit targets Noonan, and also Apple, and Barnes & Noble for allowing readers to access the work in iBooks, Kindle and Nook digital formats. The plaintiffs — captioned as “John Roe” and “Jane Roe” — are asserting violations of their rights of publicity under Ohio law.

. . . .

“The subject matter of the book, A Gronking to Remember, is less than tasteful and is offensive,” says the complaint. “The use of the Plaintiffs image has held them up to ridicule and embarrassment. This outrageous connection has been further aggravated when the book, with the Plaintiffs image, has been reproduced in the media nationwide. The book has been shown as a source of ribald humor on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as being displayed and read before the press at media day for the Super Bowl.”

The lawsuit was recently removed to a federal court and appears primed to answer the question of whether Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act can shield an e-book service from publicity rights claims. That statute enacted by Congress in 1996 states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

. . . .

But how about Apple allowing people to “self-publish” stuff through its iBooks store? Or allowing authors to “self-publish” works on Kindle stores? Are Apple and Amazon not “publishers”?

That’s what one of the defendants asserts.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter and thanks to Bill for the tip.

PG says you need to get your photos for covers from reputable stock image suppliers.

Lessons from a great book jacket designer

2 March 2015

From The Book Deal:

The bright yellow cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is instantly recognizable.


The Wall Street Journal called the jacket, designed by Peter Mendelsund, one of the most iconic in contemporary fiction in the U.S.

Mendelsund, Associate Art Director at Knopf, now has his own new book, Cover, published by powerHouse Books. It’s a fascinating inside look at the process that goes into creating a memorable book jacket, including the opportunity to see dozens of discarded comps.

. . . .

The job of every book cover

“Jackets are expected to help sell books,” says Mendelsund. “They wheedle, shout, joke, cajole, wink, grovel, and otherwise pander in every possible way in order to get a consumer to pick up a given text.

A new book needs first and foremost to catch a browser’s eye, to stand out in some way. There are so many books published in one year and so many of their covers look alike, don’t they. I prefer ugly covers to clone covers. At least ugly covers demand a certain amount of attention.”

. . . .

Advice for self-publishing writers

Keep it simple!

“Most self-published book covers fail because they are trying too hard,” says Mendelsund. “Even design professionals fall in the trap of trying to shoehorn too much design into one composition. I often tell students, ‘your problem isn’t that you have poor ideas, it’s that you have five ideas competing on the same page at the same time.’

If in doubt, stick with typography. Make sure the typography is legible. Use your handwriting if your handwriting is decent. If not, use a font. Any tried-and-true standard face will do (Bodini, Baskerville, Garamond, Helvetica, Trade Gothic). Pick a pretty color for your background. Voila.

When you start to incorporate illustrations, photographs, etc. the amateurishness of the work begins to show. But there’s no need for any of that stuff. Many of the best book covers are simple as could be.

Link to the rest at The Book Deal

Forget Fabio: DIY Covers

22 February 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

The rapid embrace of self-publishing over the past decade has increased the competition among indie romance authors to put out professional, memorable cover designs that fit within the genre and adhere to current trends, but that stand out in a crowded market. And while the cover design process at a major publisher may involve the art department, editorial, sales and marketing, and publicity, indie authors must go it alone. We talked to a variety of authors and designers in the industry who shared their advice and observations about what’s hot for romance covers in 2015.

Before the now-iconic monochromatic Fifty Shades of Grey cover design, the romance industry was perhaps best known for its Harlequin “clinch covers” of the ’80s and ’90s, usually featuring the bare-chested model Fabio Lanzoni embracing a busty maiden. “A clinch cover—a couple engaged in an embrace, sometimes wildly passionate, sometimes sweeter—is a romance classic,” says Romance Writers of America board member and New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kelly. It’s something she predicts will never go out of style.

. . . .

But, while self-published and traditional romance covers often follow the same trends, she says that indie covers tend to “skew hotter.” “While traditionally published books are still trying to grab the passerby at Walmart or in a brick-and-mortar store, [self-]published books are typically targeted toward electronic readers,” she says, which allows readers to choose a book with a sexy cover and still read it in public without fear of being judged.

This leads us to back to the basics of cover design: where do designers get these sexy photos that grace the covers of our favorite titles, and what goes into selecting them?

. . . .

Faced with the challenge of creating a memorable book cover on a shoestring budget, many indie authors and their freelance designers turn to stock photo sites for the images they need. Sites like Shutterstock or iStock offer users a massive selection of photos that can be downloaded for as little as $12 and as much as a few hundred dollars. But, while these sites are indispensable for authors and designers creating covers on a budget, their popularity also causes some problems.

“I think the biggest challenge is avoiding the overuse of certain stock images,” indie author and graphic designer Rachel Carrington says. “You don’t want a couple on the cover that is on four other covers.” To remedy this, she says she searches specifically for images that don’t have a high volume of downloads—something that can be tough if a designer is looking to keep up with current trends.

“The problem with stock images is that many of us authors end up using the same photographs for our covers,” says Katana Collins, a freelance photographer and author of the paranormal Soul Stripper trilogy. Since the beginning of 2015, she says she’s found the stock image used for her current indie cover, Capturing You, on two other books. For this reason, she says she plans to photograph the images for her next covers herself—thereby ensuring that they’re unique.

. . . .

In terms of what’s working in the industry today, the authors and designers we talked to are in agreement: “I think simplicity does it now; it used to be that the fancier covers were the ones that really got the attention,” says Carrington, who adds that her recent clients are asking for uncluttered covers. “Nowadays, it’s cleaner lines and unique colors.” Her favorite at the moment are the monochrome covers with color used only in the title or on a part of the image. “It really draws your eye,” she says. Collins also says that, as an author and a reader, she is drawn to simple covers using a single symbolic image.

Graphic designer Hafsah Faizal says she tries to steer her clients toward simpler covers. “I think the minimalistic covers stand out the most, and I try to keep my covers minimalistic as much as possible,” she says. Using her cover design for The Body Electric by Beth Revis as an example, Faizal adds, “If the book allows it, I’ll use colors that aren’t the norm.” The novel, which she describes as “science fiction with a touch of romance” features a neon green cover with a hand-lettered font. “I also try to use fonts that aren’t regularly used, but it’s not always possible,” Faizal says. She points to typography-driven cover designs that turn the title into a work of art, citing the YA titles Shadow and the Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, and The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski, as successful indie examples of this trend.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Indie Book Covers are On The Up

28 December 2014

From author Rebecca Lang via ALLI Self-Publishing Advice Blog:

Can I just say all of these amazing book covers I’m seeing are exciting the socks off me! That good covers are becoming the norm, rather than the exception to the rule, is truly heartening.

When I first started self-publishing, good covers were few and far between. I really feel the balance has now tipped tremendously in favour of indies, and this demonstrates a high level of professionalism. I’m so pleased to be part of such a focused and inspiring group of people.

. . . .

Nearing the completion of my first self-published book, I decided to have a stab at designing the book’s cover. I had seen some covers that I really liked and set my mind to replicating a couple of them – an eye-catching tabloid-style of cover with block colours, arresting images, and a darker more academic effort.

If it was any good, I reasoned, I would have saved myself some money and added an extra string to my bow (writer, editor AND book designer!).

As it was, it really wasn’t very good at all – but at the time I thought it was Magnificent! Genius! A Work of Art!

That was until I showed a graphic designer friend Tim Hartridge who politely considered it. He never said ‘Oh sweet Jesus, this is an abomination!’, but he did design something much, much better.

. . . .

Paying for the services of a good graphic designer is part and parcel of investing in yourself, and getting your readers to invest some time in getting to know your writing.

Link to the rest at ALLI

Here’s a link to Rebecca Lang’s books

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