I have a friend who has gotten bad covers made for her, more than once. I’m not going to point fingers to say who the artists were or what publishers she used that seem to believe that such atrocities will actually sell books to anyone that isn’t listening to them on audio book; but suffice it to say, THEY were BAD.
Bad bad bad!!!!
Did I mention bad or perhaps awkward, uncomfortable, how about unfortunate? Those work for ya?
We’ve all seen them; hell, some of us have even gotten stuck there, and now we’re gonna get to look at them and marvel in the balls it took to publish these works of singularly unique vision. (Self – published authors you’re up in a bit don’t worry.)
Now, while I am NOT the guru ala perfect book cover artist, I do try to take into consideration the fragile emotional state that are most authors after ripping their hearts out for a manuscript. I try to deliver something good, something that complements their story, and heck that may even make them smile. At the very least I try very diligently to NOT give them a cringe worthy half assed hack job that will have all your friends saying, “oh what a great story but the cover…oh sweetie.”
*insert obligatory hug here*
In my endeavors of looking at and for pretty book covers, I’ve come across some very questionable offerings indeed. Today I just wanted for fun to show you some of the worst covers I’ve come across that pretty much made me wince, all the while laughing my ass off. However, before I do that I want to clarify something first:
Everyone has different tastes and EVERYONE is ALLOWED to have different tastes.
This is not about what the cover is alluding to within its bindings so much as the OMG-ness of the covers. This post is ultimately about my amusement, but it’s also about my irritation and ire. Not with the artists or authors themselves, who all try very hard to deliver what they ultimately think is a good product, but with the publishing houses that just don’t give a good god damn about what they’re choosing to put out there that represents not only themselves but their authors as well. You want our money but you want to give us this drek? It could be To Kill a Mockingbird that is housed behind some of these covers but honestly, who would want to buy it? Not me, and I suspect not a vast majority of the readers out there. That said, I’m sure some of these are and were solo authors doing what they could for their own books.
NOTE TO SELF PUBBED AUTHORS: The covers following will hopefully persuade you to find one of the many artists out there that are good but reduced to charging a shockingly low price for covers, and even if it hurts to pay 35.00 dollars for a decent cover, remember, IT HELPS YOUR SALES!!!!!! Bad covers HURT!!! I need to make a bumper sticker that says that. Hmmm…
This also goes for published authors. If you hate the cover to the point of getting hives, ask for another artist. There are quite a few companies out there that will work with you. BUT BE NICE!!! Just say, you know, I hate to do this but I am really not feeling it, do you maybe have another artist? Don’t be afraid to speak up. Heck, some places will even let you use your own artist, not often but every once in awhile.
Anyhow, this little foray into bad book cover land is what I get for having a conversation with a good friend of mine regarding bad movie scripts (she reads a LOT of them) that turned into a conversation about bad book covers. And I’m dragging you right along with me. Share in my pain won’t you?
What can be said about a cover where the man in the loin cloth is looking rather longingly at his best friend, Cheetah? And why is Cheetah making that particular facial gesture? The artist says he’s speaking; personally, I think Tarzan’s been training his buddy there in the fine are of oral copulation.
Wow. AND bonus, there’s a whole series!!!!!!!! Sex with Gryphons, Velociraptors, a T Rex. HOW THE HELL that would work I have no clue. Oddly enough this isn’t a horrible cover, and it certainly did catch my eye; it’s just, well, all I can think is ouchie and claws. That and it does put me off as a genre I would want to read. I am not even little bit sarcastic when I say I am so going to give huge kudos to Christie Sims (who I think is a self publishedauthor) for having the steel balls of a serial killer and actually putting this out into the world for everyone to see and enjoy. Sex with a half lion/half eagle mythical creature, AWESOME!
Now that I’ve seen this cover, I am DONE!!! I don’t know Josh, he’s probably a nice guy, maybe even a good writer but the cover of his book? Oy vey! Let’s just pretend to forget about the picture for a moment and ask what the frilly heck is that title? Is it a cry for help? A deep seated urge the author has to engage in sex with a phantasm? Some sort of self help book for the dearly departed but deeply closeted? Whatever it is, it’s just, well, it’s kinda creepy.
Daddy, you’re scaring me. And it’s a Harlequin romance, for shame! I get that this is a book about a single father NOW, but I know damn well that I wasn’t alone in thinking that it was about something else entirely. That’s right WE ALL went there!
And here we have another one that took us there. Was there anyone else that thought just by the title that this was a brotherly lovin’ situation? Guess what? You’d be wrong! Just be glad you didn’t place any bets on it because in reality it’s a het romance!!!! I KNOW, the wonder.
Not only do you have not get even one iota of a hint about this story being a male/female romance due to the one man and his headless twin there, but the title, My Brother My Rival? Smacks of something and it ain’t a man and woman getting hot and heavy under the covers, though I’m not exactly sure what it smacks of except maybe newbieism. (Yes, I made that word up.)
I included this one more from a learning stand point since I can clearly see that this person probably is a total newbie to Photoshop. At least she seems to be a self-published author trying to make her own covers, but sadly I’ve seen similar covers from publishers as well that maybe aren’t this level of oopsie but really close. I personally am all for giving people a chance, supporting people, and helping them get a foot in the door. Hell, I’m still fighting for that myself with publishers, and if I didn’t have a wonderful friend who had in turn introduced me to other wonderful people, I wouldn’t be here writing this. But this sort of cover can hurt you. If you want to be a serious author and want people to take you seriously, you need a cover that looks good. It’s like the clothes you wear to an interview; you wouldn’t wear ratty jeans and a holey t-shirt to impress your potential employer, would you? Nope, you’d wear your best slacks and shirt, you’d have your hair brushed and your résumé crisp and fingerprint free. So why are we seeing covers out there that are amateurish to this extent? Seriously, people, if you have no feel for Photoshop, a nice plain color cover with a nice crisp title can and will work better than a cover that has poorly lit, badly cropped, horribly cut out pics that are awkwardly placed. No one wants to buy it if no one even wants to look at it.
I’ve shown you covers that we can take with a grain of salt and poke some fun at but, authors, you need to realize that if you have a cover like this, people can and will make fun. Not necessarily to be malicious or mean, but just because they’re so obvious. Artists you need to seriously evaluate if you’re good enough to make covers for others and if you don’t think you are, you probably aren’t. I’ve done some mediocre covers in my past (thankfully, not even close to this bad, and a few years ago) but I learned from that period and now my first thought is always whether or not I can do something and whether or not it’s going to be a huge embarrassment later on for either myself or my client. A bad cover reflects on so much more than just one person. And while you may only have a bad cover on one book, you need to stand tall, be proud of what you’ve written, and demand a better cover next time. If you don’t stand your ground, authors, you’ll never get the cover you deserve. You’ll get the one you need instead. (And yes, I quoted Batman. )
Anyhow, that’s it for this week. I leave you with one last cover that just screams for a book burning.
Enjoy, have a great day and may the good books be with you!
A.J. – Got You Covered
All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.
At least the title is nice and easy to read, but are those horns growing out of his head or another set of arms? Either way, I find myself wanting to watch a really bad Sci Fi movie now.