The cover art conundrum

There is a great deal of cover art out there that doesn’t make sense: cover models with the wrong hair/eye color; cover models wearing the wrong period clothes, or engaged in activities that are either not in the book or don’t suit the content; even cover models with extra limbs!  There are book covers using classical images in a sort of generic way.  And then there are the covers that are abstract, unpeopled.  There are so many ways that book cover design can go wrong.  The art department walks a tightrope, trying to match content to an image that will catch the eye of casual book browsers, getting them to open the book and become interested enough to pay to read it.

This cover art is lovely. The colors, the shading, the cover model, all gorgeous. It fits the plot and setting of the novel. The cover model looks, ethnically speaking, like the narrator/protagonist of the series, and her tattoos, which change with each book to suit the content, are gorgeous too. But the pose and wardrobe don’t really match the narrator’s character. Although she is comfortable within her own skin, human and coyote, she has experienced things in earlier books that left her conscious of nudity and how much skin others can see.  

I know the author really likes the cover art, and a lot of readers do, too. And I even like it, too, when I disassociate it from the character it is supposed to represent.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, other than this cover art, however beautiful it is, bothers me.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The cover art conundrum

  1. Anonymous

    I feel the same way. And it also bothers me that Mercy didn’t have tattoos in the books but she did in the cover art, so the author put in tattoos. And the tattoos are different in each cover and this too is explained away as being sort of an artistic interpretation of what’s going on in each particular book. I guess it bothers me that I too, am making excuses because it IS pretty, but if I’m honest with myself, they are excuses.

  2. Anonymous

    And here I thought I was the only one who didn’t adore the cover. (Um. It has nice colors.)

  3. Oh, I hadn’t thought about the bring it on posture, but you’re right. The physique, yes, that too, although I tend to ignore that, since UF heroines seem to be stacked generally. (Frex, Kate Daniels’ chest seems to be getting larger on those covers.)
    I thought Coyote erased on the mark around her waist and then the other one disappeared when she killed the river devil.

  4. There were NO tattoos mentioned in the first book if I recall right, and a couple were added (paw print and.. I want to say there’s another one). There’s a FAQ somewhere where basically the cover art and the tattoos are explained as they represent what’s inside the book, not that Mercy has other tattoos other than the couple she has, just that it’s sort of the artist taking liberties. So more vampires, more tattoos related to that etc. It annoys me that it’s not true to the book and Mercy is way more busty/sexed up on the covers than she is in the story, but at the same time – it IS lovely artwork and it’s all marketing I guess. I feel that the author likely has little to no say, which is usually the case with cover art.

    • The only time I remember the paw print tattoo being mentioned (before this book) was early in the series, when Mercy had to change back to human in front of Sam. He assumed it was a wolf print and she told him it was a coyote print.
      I’ve read that FAQ, or maybe just an explanation in an interview. And I don’t hold it against Briggs, of course. But at the same time, this is another example of publisher marketing that isn’t really true to the books. Unlike misleading genre labeling, though, most readers don’t expect cover art to be that accurate.

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