art & photography discussions genre stuff

Uncool Cover

So, you didn’t really like the cover drafts we put up last week, and that’s fine. You didn’t think they were cool. So we are going to change it – and by we, I mean my editor Julie, who has asked the design guys and the artist to be rid of the character for the hardcover and focus on detailing the cityscape. We will have a figure on the paperback, but it’s likely to be a different one than the drafts. You all helped do that, so thank you for your contribution, even if it was answering a question we didn’t quite ask…

A couple of things came to mind. Firstly, some people really don’t understand the meaning of the word draft, but that’s fine, I could have been clearer. Secondly, a couple of comments sprung up that basically asked “Why should a transwoman look so feminine?” or querying that there’s nothing to mark her out as a transwoman. I think that’s uncool, but if we start analysing such sentiments, we’ll invoke Godwin’s Law pretty quickly.

Anyway, there you have it. I’ll hopefully have something more soon, but for now, you wild bunch of democratic anarchists have influenced what a publisher is going to do, and changed the cover of my book.

But if it bombs, you all owe me a drink.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

13 replies on “Uncool Cover”

er…what was wrong with the cover? I preferred the more zoomed-in view but other than that it looked cool.

Plus, asking the internets for cover approval is much akin to a broken pencil. Pointless.

…hang on. If I thought it was cool and everyone else hated it does that mean I’m uncool? Ooh, existential crisis!

People much preferred there to be no character at all, unfortunately. And not just here, but on other blogs and forums too.

There are many SFF fans online – and for the most part they all buy books! The hardcover is a specialist market, anyway, which is why the mass market will still have an (improved) figure.

Good to know that publishers listened to the comments on the draft covers, but then again, most of us who commented would buy the book anyway!
More to the point, your novels are urban fantasy in the truest sense of the term, in that the cities are characters in themselves. For that reason alone, the cityscape should be more prominent than one single character, in my view. So I am glad that this is likely to be the case 🙂
PS As someone else pointed out, the sun should be a lot more red than yellow, given the title of the series!

The thing about SFF fans is that I’ve never heard of one avoiding a book simply because of a cover. Certainly not if they’re familiar with the author in question.

Whatever cover you post, half will love it and half will loathe it. As for the whole character on the cover lark, I’ve never let it get in the way of my imagination.

“The thing about SFF fans is that I’ve never heard of one avoiding a book simply because of a cover.”

Pleased to meet you! There are hundreds of interesting-looking SF books I haven’t read yet (including Mr. Newton’s) and if a book on my “maybe read soon” list has a cover I am embarrassed to be seen in public with, it definitely moves it farther down the queue.

Huh. I didn’t expect that. But I am very curious to see how the cover turns out, both of them, really.

Not buying a book because of it’s cover? No. I’ve never ever done that. I might raise an eyebrow, but it wouldn’t stop me because the cover isn’t the story. Also, it’s not porn I’m reading in public, so why should I be embarrassed? Smacks of some people, odd people, being embarrassed to be seen reading comics in public.

Thanks, Murf – kind words as ever! I’ll mention about the sun, just in case…

Dfan – a shoddy cover does make me think twice about its position in the reading queue, though ultimately will not stop me reading it. But interestingly, sometimes the opposite is true, in that I love reading something so outrageously geeky in front of conservative people.

I didn’t mind the girl, I just wanted a more authentic looking martial arts stance.

If you’re embarrassed about the cover – take the dust jacket off, or read it on a kindle. I give no ground on this; I read comics on public transport… in London…

Say it loud, ‘I’m a geek and I’m proud!’

I owe you a drink, already. But I’ll make it a double if things don’t work out.

If nothing else, just have them copy the one on this post: that’s a keeper (Isn’t that Brynd there, oozing awesomeness? And I can see the gang hanging out in the Villjamur imperial library, working together to encourage right on! diversity).

But I think you’re making the right decision; and not just because I was one of the vocal minority (?). No one is going to let you end up with an unsellable cover. Your team at TOR are I’m sure, marketing boffins par excellence. I bought your very first hardback (partially) on the strength of its very nice cover. So I do think they matter, even for hardbacks.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong with a cover when it’s a work in progress, but I felt that beyond uncool questions of gender, there was something off about the pose of the figure.

I’m not against there being a figure, but that one, in that position, just told my eye all the wrong things.

Good luck and keep us posted now that we’re “involved” beyond the normal snarky comments.



Den – that’s something we’ll look to fix for the paperback, certainly.

Thanks for the thoughts, Eric. I think we’ve all learned from that last post, and maybe we’ll try to show the whole process, from brief to jacket, in future – that way, everything is in context.

To be honest, for all my derision when it comes to characters on covers and so on, I really couldn’t give a toss about paperbacks: they truly are a last resort, for when I can’t find something in HC. Therefore from my perspective: why not go Full Cheesy for PB covers if it helps sell?

Think authors are stuck between the Devil and the deep blue sea in these matters: publishers and hard facts of ££££ on one side and hardcore SFF fans/bloggers/etc on the other.

Step 1: Get cool oversized ski sweater.
Step 2: Chat up hunky blonde guy (HBG)
Step 3: Try to time laughter with HBG’s jokes (no matter how lame).
Step 4: Ignore HBG’s glances at oversized ski sweater.

If that guy on the cover of Anybody Can Be Cool… was wearing an orange neckerchief and white shirt w/ blue collar he would be Fred from Scooby Doo!

Look forward to seeing the final iteration of the cover for The Book of Transformations.

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