Archive for 'covers'



Man, that’s an ugly baby
by Jessa Slade on December 7th, 2009

Currently working on: Christmas madness, not to be confused with Christmas cheer
Mood: Cheerfully mad

Writers sometimes compare their books to babies.  People with actual babies may take offense because books don’t throw up on you.  But for the sake of analogy, writing a book and doing the baby thing are both creative endeavors with certain similarities: 

  • Both take about nine months to finish.  (And often enough, starting a book isn’t something you plan either.)
  • There’s a lot of crap at first.
  • Eventually, you have to let go and set the book/baby free.
  • Nobody ever tells you to your face that your baby is ugly.

I’m not sure why this is, because there are plenty of ugly babies in the world.  And some really awful book covers too.  But among all the many munchkins and manuscripts I’ve seen unleashed upon the unsuspecting public, I’ve never heard anybody tell the author, “Ooh, that’s unfortunate.”

Sure, entire websites are devoted to snarking on covers — and more than one water-cooler conversation has revolved around Junior’s elephantine ears — but the author/momma is never present.  Well, maybe there’s a good reason for this.  And I suspect the reason has less to do with compassion than selfish concern about the potential reaction of the hormonally unbalanced.  (And if you think an author at The End isn’t unbalanced, you should watch me stagger away from my computer after the last chapter marathon.)

But maybe I’m being cynical.  Maybe people don’t laugh aloud in front of the proud author/mama because:

  • It’s just rude.
  • The author/momma probably didn’t have any real say in what the book/baby looks like.  Sure, you can choose a reasonably attractive mate in the hope that genetic roulette will be weighted in your favor, but mostly it’s God — or as we call them in the technical world of publishing, the Cover Gods — who chooses.
  • What really matters is what’s inside.

Honestly, I know I don’t have the emotional distance needed to make decisions about cover art.  For example, because SEDUCED BY SHADOWS is set in Chicago in November, I suggested that my hero, Archer, was smart enough to wear a hat and scarf against the cruel winds.

winter-archer1

Yeah, that obviously was a stupid idea.

And I confess, I once bought a book simply because the guy on the cover was smokin’.  A good hero brings his own heat to the Chicago night ;)

How about you?  Ever judged — and bought — a book by its cover?