A recent reviewer of More Deaths Than One liked the book well enough, but thought the cover was SO UGLY. (The capital letters were the reviewer’s.) Perhaps it is. The printed version is not what I had envisioned. It was supposed to be an eerie night-vision-goggle-green painting with purple lettering (as you see on the right sidebar) and it turned out to be emerald and raspberry sherbet pink. The painting also lost much of its detail. However, whatever the vagaries of the printing process that gave More Deaths Than One a less than appealing cover, they gifted Daughter Am I with a stunning cover. Instead of the happy turquoise you see on my sidebar, the cover printed up as a gorgeous deep and brooding turquoise that is a perfect match for the story.
I have no idea any more if my covers are good or bad. They are what I wanted at the time. I do know they are not standard fare, and they do have an untextured glossy cover, which, apparently, readers equate with self-published books. The fad today in the publishing industry is embossing, foil accents, textures, and matte finishing, but once upon a time if a book didn’t have a glossy cover, it wasn’t considered worth reading. I found an interesting article about shunning glossy covers here: “An open letter to Trade Publishers“.
Like all prejudices, this prejudice against glossy covers is based on ignorance and assumption. Covers do entice people to buy books and covers put people off from buying books, but a cover isn’t the book. Nor do glossy covers mean self-published books. Even so, some self-published books are better than the books published by the major publishers, and all of the books I have read recently that were published by small independent presses are vastly superior to any recent book published by the majors.
I’m not sure what the answer is. People will buy what they want to buy, or rather they will buy what they are trained to buy. That is the nature of fad and fashion. Personally, if I see one more book cover with a man’s naked torso on the cover, I am going to scream. We are no longer allowed to objectify women, but apparently it’s okay to objectify men. But that’s beside the point. The point is that naked chests are the current fad for romances and so that is what readers have been trained to look for. Before naked chests, the fad was jewelry on the cover. Before that, it was men and women together. Will small presses ever have the clout of the big ones so that they can dictate the public’s taste and prejudice to this extent when it comes to covers? I doubt it, yet that doesn’t mean small press books are less enticing, nor does it mean the independent presses should become “me too”s, trying to catch the leftovers from the big guys by copying their phony fads.
It’s nice to think that there are real readers out there, readers who will buy books based on the quality of the words, but I wonder how many there are. Not enough, probably, to afford small press authors the esteem given to those published by the major presses. But the major presses publish pap — stories so homogenized and tasteless that all they have going for them is fancy coverings, so where’s the esteem in that?