Saturday, December 6, 2008

A brief history of the tramp-stamp (and other hilarious similarities) on urban fantasy covers.

Gakked from Kameron Hurley. This is brilliant!


Joya said...

Very funny! Thanks for sharing. :)

Leatherdykeuk said...

That was fabulous!
I'm so glad my publisher used my own painting for mine!

Leatherdykeuk said...

Of course, it begs the question -- would I have preferred my cover to be a rear-sot of girl with tattoo if my book get extra exposure like this?

NewGuyDave said...

Too bad. Not once did he mention leather. There were leather skirts, dresses, corsets, and boots.

Laura Anne said...

Ouch. We laugh because it's true.

(I'm not sure if I'm insulted or relieved that my books didn't get included!)

clindsay said...

Dave -

I was kind of wondering why the leather thing wasn't mentioned as well. Especially leather vests, as they seem to be all the rage on UF covers.

Laura Anne -

You're right - it's funny 'cos it IS true. And I'm guessing there are so many covers like this now that the video would have to be about three hours long to include them all.



j.lee said...

I'm trying to picture my main character in one of those outfits... But he says he'd kick my ass if I tried.

Marva said...

And I'm sure the text has similar same-old, same-old similarities. Writing to formula apparently still working well.

Juliette Wade said...

Note to self: ask editor not to give me a cover like that. Ever. Beg if necessary. :)

clindsay said...

Juliette -

Ah, but see, the cover formula works. They wouldn't keep using it if it didn't. And if you write an urban fantasy about a kick-ass female heroine, your publisher is probably going to slap some variation of this cover on your book. If they didn't, the sales department and the major chain book buyers would most likely protest.

The truth is that most buyers actually DO judge books by the cover, so the cover needs to convey the expectation that the consumer has come to identify with that particular sub-genre. It's a signifier of sorts, much the same way as chick-lit covers often have a cartoony kind of art deco illustration.

It's funny, but it does work to sell the book.



pauljessup said...

Awesomely funny! My wife was thinking about writing an UF novel, and I told her if it ever got published it would have a tramp stamp on the cover. I don't think she realized how prevalent a style of cover is :)

I myself see nothing wrong with this- no more different that giant cityscapes for Science Fiction covers or dragons for epic fantasy covers. It's all about how to get a person who likes the genre to pick up the book.

And it helps me as a reader. If I'm in the mood for x kind of fantasy (or horror, or whatever) I like being able to tell by the cover what I'm getting. And I get kind of pissed when the cover tells me I'm getting one kind of genre and I get something else instead (which does happen)

K.M. said...

I don't know whether to laugh or be worried. I heard that 95 per cent of the time, the choice of cover art is out of your hands. And I read your comment, Ms. Lindsay, about the formula working and them not using it otherwise, but is there any hope at all for a heroine who only wants to show her face? :)

Adrienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrienne said...

That's why I adore the cover for Wondrous Strange. It's a YA urban fantasy, so not quite the same deal, but the reason I love this cover so much is that the girl is facing forward, staring right out at you, and there is not a single one of those listed items to be seen.

Anonymous said...

That was great!

I'll have to show this to my friend who's writing UF about werewolves. Her MC just so happens to be a very strong female heroine--so chances are she'll probably have a similar cover.

At least I don't have to worry about it with historical fiction :P But I suppose it's what has been associated with the genre and what sells the books.