Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Artwork and book covers . . . again!

Let's talk . . . again . . . about artwork and book covers.  How many times we're gonna go down this well trod footpath I don't know.  But apparently we're doing it at least one more time.
The reason I bring this up is because I'm . . . frankly . . . puzzled.  Puzzled in the sense of not quite comprehending how some people in charge of book production make decisions.  Artwork is, even for an ebook, an absolutely critical component in attracting potential readers.  What good artwork does is ask a potential reader to take the chance and buy something of an author whom they may not be familiar with.  Right? 
 I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it?  Lots of us not only like a good read.  But we like the visuals of the front cover to ignite our imaginations and generate some form of anticipation on what we might find inside.
Makes sense to me.
So take the example of the above artwork.  It was to be the cover for the next Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel called Guilt of Innocence.  I commissioned the piece to be done because I had a specific image of what the cover should look like.  I wanted a truly accurate rendition of both Turner Hahn and Frank Morales (Turner is the guy who looks like Clarke Gable; Frank is the red headed freak with no neck).
I also wanted to visual impress upon the reader that (One); there was going to be guns going off and bodies dropping, and (Two); lost of fast cars were to be found inside.  If you've read any of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales stories (and there are several in the archives you can peruse through)  you KNOW what Turner and Frank look like and KNOW action is guaranteed to be had in buckets full.
But . . .
Some publishers take umbrage over the idea of an author taking a proprietary interest in what the cover should look like.  Actually, I can understand this.  Many publishers want to express a certain 'brand' or 'style' for their trademark's image.  And . . . if that trademark image is dynamic and dramatic, I have no qualms.  But . . . and I certainly don't want to be brutal here, or insult anyone . . .  nevertheless what happens if your trademark artwork is, frankly, a bland brand of ersatz vanilla in flavor? I give you an example.  Here is the cover for  A Taste of Old Revenge.
Examine the two.  Be honest.  If you were a reader scanning the ebook titles which two title covers would capture your attention first?  Which one generates some interesting reading possibilities?  I'm banking the one I wanted to be used for Guilt of Innocence.  Action, color, interesting characters . . . all there.  And the cover is FREE!  I coughed up the coins to get the work done.
Apparently it's not going to happen.  The best I can hope for is (if the book is even accepted for publication, which is still up in the air) maybe they'll take some hints.  Maybe not.

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