Monday, October 11, 2010

Misleading Book Covers

Here's another hypothetical topic for discussion:

Suppose your publisher chose a book cover that was incorrect or didn't match the contents of the book.  Let's say, for example, the cover of a mystery novels depicts a bottle of poison (you know, with the skull and crossbones on the label), but the story does not include the use of poison, nor does it hint at poison, nor is poison included in the plot as a "red herring". 

As factually unsuitable as this hypothetical cover may be, the publisher wants to use it (maybe the marketing department said it was a good choice...?).

Should the author be allowed to veto the choice of the book cover or not?

Looking forward to your replies... Jill


  1. The key word here is "should." Yes, should. Definitely should. Can? From what I hear, no. We can say "Don't judge a book by its cover" until the cows come home, but the bottom line is that people judge books on just that. I don't even pick up books with bad covers. I know what I look for in a book, and I assume a publisher will try to match up contents to cover. But just look at Twilight. Those covers are completely obscure, one could argue even unrelated, but they are very different from the rest of the genre. Seems to have worked out for her.

    I keep telling myself that I would rather not be published than have my book published with a bad cover. My pet peeve is when the cover depicts the main character, especially since I write fantasy. Nevermind the fact that the image never matches up to the author's description, but I like to create my own image thank you! Covers are a sore spot with me. But, when it comes down to it, it may be one of the things I have to sacrifice. I'm not looking forward to that...


  2. A book cover should connect to the story... I buy tons of books just by the cover.

    I wouldn't be happy, thats for sure.

  3. I think the person who writes the book knows what message they want to convey on the cover. The publisher should be a vehicle for the book and should not interfere with the author's vision. Although I loved the first book, the cover was gory and it showed a bride with a knife and lots of blood, something that did not reflect the book's nature. A publisher should back their authors, not work against them...

  4. I remember a book cover that depicted a black woman when the heroine of the story was white (not a black female in the novel anywhere). That was pretty controversial, too. I think it shows the cutbacks that are taking place: graphic artists are rarely paid to read the books they are asked to prepare the covers for. I sat next to one such artist on a flight who said she often simply gets a summary (the blurb on the dust jacket).

  5. I agree that covers should connect to the story line. Sometimes it's as if the editor did not read the book because the cover is so far removed from the story line. I gave a copy of Blood and Groom to my friend for x-mas and when I asked if she read it yet, she said she wasn't into gory stuff! Only after I reassured her that it wasn't anything like the cover did she not only read it, but told me she really enjoyed it!
    Writing a book and getting it published is like having a baby, and you wouldn't let someone else dress your baby for you!
    The author should present it the way they feel their book should be seen! It's was never the publisher's vision that brought this book to life!