Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cover Art, Part II: Enjoy yourselves, but don't expect me to join in.

Once again the perennial whipping boy of the romance world (aka cover art) is the subject of blogs and flame wars. Yes, much of romance cover art is downright ridiculous -- the poses, the hair, the muscles, the clothes. We romance authors, especially those of us who write historicals, know this. We do not suddenly go stupid or lose our taste when we get published.

But here's the thing: most of us have absolutely no control over this part of our book. We give our opinions, we send in pictures, and then we cross our fingers and hope we don't get a howler. And if we do? I explain it thusly: suppose you're a dressmaker and you work for months making a sample of your work, because of course you want others to hire you. You agonize over the fabric choice, the pattern, the type of thread, the trim, the fastenings. You work hard to get the finished dress as nearly perfect as it can be. When you finish, you are tired, but pleased.

Then somebody spills a glass of red wine all down the front of the dress.

It's still the same lovely dress. It's still just as well made. But is anybody going to notice much of anything beyond that stain? In the case of a book, are they even going to bother picking it up to read the blurb?

But it doesn't end there, not when it comes to the mockery. Now imagine that not only is your creation marred by a big stain, people are pointing their fingers and laughing. Would you really expect the dressmaker to join in? Or not be a tad upset?

I know cover art can be silly. I know people get a real kick out of making fun of it (although it seems like shooting fish in a barrel to me, especially if it involves old romances long out of print), and far be it from me to rain on your parade. But please, spare a sympathetic thought for the author who in all probability had no say in the matter and is well aware that her cover is ugly or historically inaccurate, or just plain ridiculous.

And don't expect me to join in the finger pointing. I've been in that dressmaker's shoes.

No comments: