Mysterious Cover Art

I keep hearing horror stories from authors about cover art -- how they detest the cover art their publishers choose, how the publishers refuse to consult them about those choices, how they have pleaded to no avail for the use of archival photos of the real people or places described in nonfiction books, only to have a publisher insist on using a stock image from a photo agency as "representational" art.

I can, however, also see this problem from the publisher's point of view. People judge books by their covers. An alluring photo could propel sales.

When "alluring" is the No. 1 goal, here's what happens: Two novels are coming out in late March / early April from major publishers with virtually identical cover images. Both are black -- well, OK, one is glossy and the other is matte -- and both use the same Getty Images photo of a young woman in silhouette, hair pulled tightly back, graceful long neck plunging to suggestive bare shoulder.

One cover is generic but sexy. The other is the complete opposite: sexy but generic.

No. 1 is "Still Life" by Joy Fielding, a romantic thriller about a beautiful, happily married interior designer whose life is going just great -- until a car slams into her, breaks all her bones and puts her in a coma. (That will ruin your day alright.) Plus, she realizes that it probably wasn't an accident, but she can't see, speak or move from her hospital bed. It comes out from Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, on March 24.

No. 2 is "Keeper of Light and Dust" by British author Natasha Mostert, also a romantic thriller of a sort -- the sort being a supernatural parade of magic and martial arts involving a vampire, ancient Chinese wisdom and "biophoton emissions." In her acknowledgements, the author thanks her "two great dojos," a kickboxing champion and "the man with the stupendous flying kicks." According to her publicist, she's donating partial proceeds to a "boxing initiative to empower Afghan women." It comes out from Dutton, part of the Penguin Group, on April 2.

The person who should be happiest about this, I suppose, is the photographer, Stuart McClymont. NIce pic.

-- Alan Cooperman

By Alan Cooperman |  March 11, 2009; 6:31 AM ET Alan Cooperman
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The book covers are the silhouette. The original photo can be found at the link above. That would be another question re covers? Why so many silhouettes? I hate silhouettes, but at least they didn't keep the red lipstick on this one. I'd rather see pulpy graphic art covers than silhouettes.

Posted by: prokaryote | March 11, 2009 1:13 PM

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