I was having a blast reading your comments on TWILIGHT. I've been lurking around here for weeks now, I thought it would be finally appropriate to subscribe, to be polite and say hello! :) I've been posting on a few writing forums, and the common denominator seems to be that in all of these places, you'll always find an obnoxious and self-righteous writer that stinks of arrogance, and that snobbery can be extremely annoying to me. I have only began writing my first novel on Dec 9 2009 and prior to 12/09, I had no idea how the publishing world worked. Thanks to many of you and the numerous fantastic blogs, I know a lot more.
What struck me me most here is that I haven't seen that snobbery I see every where else (maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but I doubt it!). Mr. Bransford is a very down to earth kind of person, perhaps this is why. In any case, it's been a tremendous pleasure to read all of you, and also to see you guys take so much of your time to help critique other people's works. It shows courage for them to post it, and generosity to critique it... it's inspiring!
I thought I could ask you what you guys think of what construes a craptastic cover? I've been a website and graphic designer since I was 12 years old, and been a semi-professional photographer (meaning I do paid shoots and contracts throughout the year but it is not my full-time job, I'm still an university student!) for the last 4 years. I am a very visual person, and have a very critical eye for most graphical things I can feast upon. I've been through many forums and blogs, and also occasionally browse Amazon to see some of their covers... and I'm dying to know, what makes a cover inherently bad, according to you?
My cover pet peeves:
-Any cover using bare-chested man with the six-pack of abs, wearing some leather clothing and perhaps holding a sword. Or using ridiculously sexy women (who actually look like bimbos) fresh out of silicon valley with the big boobs and the leather suit, trying to be all sexy on the cover. THIS IS NOT 1980 PEOPLE!!! It is so cheesy and corny, some actually manage to make me puke a little... you do NOT need that crap on a cover because you wrote romance.
-Any use of real human photography that isn't groundbreaking. Using a beautiful girl or a beautiful boy on the front of your cover to represent your protagonist really irks me. Most of the photos are lazy and underdeveloped artistically. The couple kissing in front of a house with the fresh white snow that just covered the ground... cliché. Anything that tries to imitate the GHOST movie poster and call it an homage... shredder!
-Last but not least... any fantasy novels sporting a castle and a dragon with some sort of knight trying to look courageous and strong... this is not 1990 people. Try to be a bit more original!
Don't judge a book by its cover? Sorry, everyone does. It's proven scientifically. It might not prevent them from buying said book, but the first impression counts. Whether the book is hardcover or paperback, the colors that were used, the design of the jacket, the fonts that were used, all of it has an unconscious effect on your mind that will lead to your decision to like the book enough or not to entice you in buying it.
It is unfortunate that authors don't have more of a say in their covers, but I'm sure if one hates it, the publisher won't go ahead. Then again, if publishers hired people really invested in their work, scandals like it happened to 'Liar, Liar' would NEVER happen. What kind of self-respecting graphic artist would think to put a white girl on the cover of a book where the protagonist is black? The mind wonders! I do think though if you bring your OWN cover to the publisher and it is fantastic (or you hired an artist to do yours and have the proper release papers) they'll be inclined to use it. I heard publishing houses have contracts that force them to use their own artists, no matter how much they suck. In this case, I'd simply say "use my illustration and kindly change a few things, I'll sign release papers for you to use them".
What are your pet peeves when it comes to book covers? Nudity? Bright colors? The overuse of funky fonts? Busy backgrounds? Cheap looking 3D renders of human being trying to look cool in a spaceship?
I'm dying to know :D