I have to confess, this cover is so bad, it has tainted how I feel about the story as a whole. The publisher, who I will not name, did not even send me a jpg of the cover before the ebook was out, so the first I saw of it was when I stumbled across it there, up on Amazon, in all its gory glory. A done deal. I sent them an email saying I was shocked, and got sucking silence.
What I’d ask you to do first, is read the story: which is here. Please read it now, because it’s likely to be off the site in about a month.
Now, you can see what happened. The ‘designer’ (whose job title I have put in quotes for reasons I will go into later) either read or was given a verbal synopsis that went like this: “this is a story about a girl who fucks a guy for money. Make a cover.”
It doesn’t embody the setting, the mood, the fact that the protagonist is not a prostitute, or that (puzzlingly) it isn’t an interracial couple. Not only doesn’t it address the theme of the story, which has a real undercurrent of D/s, with money as the instrument of power. It infers that she has the money and the power. Which is the antithesis of the theme. Also, the male in the story is a middle-aged, rather pudgy man, who never gets fully undressed. The one on the cover looks magnificently swarthy, and appears to either be clutching a massive cock, or a gun. I don’t know which one bothers me more.
For many reasons, this cover isn’t just bad, it’s flat out misleading advertising.
Now to the issue of the quotes I used around the word designer. See the icky white halo above her stocking. That’s just unforgivably bad cropping. I understand that designers on a budget have to composite images, but they should learn how to fucking do it properly.
Second, can you read the author name? Was it really necessary to put my name in scrolly script AND have it in a flaming gradient as well?
Don’t mistake this for post-modern challenging typography. This is just a very bad wannabe designer with photoshop filters and too much fucking time on their hands. It’s unforgivable.
Let me be honest, I don’t think that writers are the best designers of their own covers, even when they have the graphics skills to do it. The best cover designs require a little distance from the story – to be able to visualize the bigger picture, not the minutiae. But if I had to sit down and design a cover for this, one of these would be far more appropriate.
I want to be clear. I’m not saying that any of these are brilliant covers. It took me an hour to source the images and artwork them and add typography to all of them. And I would spend significantly more time on any given book cover. What I’m saying is they would be clearer, more eye-catching and, above all, less misleading to the reader.
I don’t really believe there is a perfect book cover. Text is text and image is image, and by their very nature, one is never going to translate perfectly into the other. It’s why literature and the visual arts exist as separate art-forms. But I think that it is possible to make a cover that doesn’t do actual violence to the contents of a novel, invites the reader in bearing questions, and isn’t humiliating to have to post on your blog.