The Simon Kernick Is Awesome Photoshop Contest

Thanks to this Marketing Week article sent on Twitter by Sarah Weinman, I’m having a massive case of horrified giggles. WH Smith has released an exclusive edition of Simon Kernick’s book “Deadline” with a new cover… with Dan Brown’s name on it. Ruth Mortimer saw the ad and realized, to her horror:

…Brown had not written this book at all. And Kernick is not the detective hero of the piece. The front cover, which proudly boasted that it was “exclusive” to WH Smith, bears the legend: “Dan Brown. If you like your thrillers as fast, furious and unputdownable as Dan Brown, then we thought you’d enjoy…Simon Kernick. Deadline.”

I had got it entirely wrong. Kernick is, in fact, the author of Deadline. Brown is not.

This is selling one author’s book with the name of another author as the hook to draw in the shopper. Rather than simply referring to Dan Brown on the cover notes, suggesting similarities between the authors’ styles, at first sight it seems that Brown is the main writer.

Yes. That’s a brilliant idea! How did no one else think of that sooner: using one author’s name to sell another author’s book… by making that more famous-er name


on the cover.

It’s so brilliant, I’ve hatched a contest. It’s been awhile since we did a Photoshop competition, but it’s time to break out the graphics editing software.

It’s the Simon Kernick Is Awesome Photoshop Contest!

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to rebrand a romance novel cover, any romance cover, with another author’s name that would sell that book better than, you know, the ACTUAL author’s name. Bonus points for inside jokes.

For example:image

Mirror Image is about a woman who, due to mistaken identity after a plane crash, ends up with another woman’s face. Hence, this is totally a book Hannah Montana would endorse, right?

So, allez Photoshop! Take a romance novel cover, and doctor that shit up.

Entries are due Friday 24 July, midnight EST. Please make sure the images are 300 pixels wide or LESS. Email them to sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom with SIMON KERNICK in the subject line.

I’ll post the covers over the weekend, and you can judge them on Monday. WOO! 

The Grand Prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of their choosing. 2nd Place will win a $25 gift certificate. And all of us will win a crucial lesson in marketing: it’s not the author’s name that matters. It’s how well some other author’s brand name can be used to market that author.


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    ghn says:

    Reminds me a bit about Orbit Books’ current Worst Cover Ever contest :- )
    Go to if you are interested. That is SF, yes but there are some truly awesomely bad suggestions for titles there.

  2. 2
    Suze says:

    Oh, holy fuck.  That’s just so wrong.  Aren’t marketing people supposed to learn a bunch of psychology and subtlety?  Aren’t they supposed to be doing subliminal things to make us think of sex every time we look at an ad?

    This is almost Pythonesque in its blatancy.

    Did Dan Brown even blurb this thing?  If I were him, I’d think seriously about suing them for misappropriating his name or image or something.  And I’m somebody who’s against unnecessary litigation.


  3. 3
    Elizabeth says:

    Wow, they piss off not one, but two, writers and all the fans of both writers in one fell swoop! It takes a special kind of talent to fail that hard.

    I can’t wait to pop into Smiths and see this monstrosity – assuming the two writers haven’t demanded its removal from the shelves by now!

  4. 4

    I have no photoshop skils, but I wanna see my cover redone ala Simon Kernick style. And I have begging skilz.  I put them use and found somebody who’s going to enter using one of my covers.

  5. 5

    I don’t have Photoshop but I’m dying to see the contest entries!

  6. 6
    Sandra says:

    This is nothing new.  I once purchased a paperback with the name ROSAMUND PILCHER in big letters on the cover, only to discover that she was “presenting” a novel by someone else entirely.  The real author’s name was in small letters somewhere at the bottom of the cover.  Spamword body97 as in 97% of the body of that cover gave the impression that Pilcher was the author.

  7. 7
    Laurel says:

    This website makes me laugh until my solar plexus aches. It also keeps me up all night reading old posts since I have only just discovered the awesome chewy goodness here.

    That book cover made me giggle like a school girl. My first reaction was that there must be a Saturday Night Live skit in there somewhere.

    And really, doesn’t such a blatant misuse of one author’s name make you just want to put it down and walk away? Poor real author. That would SUU-UUUHK. How do you think that conversation went?

    “Of course we believe in your book, Mr. Kernick. Publishing is very competitve, you know, and we won’t print a book that doesn’t stand on its own merit. If you want to realize your sales potential with this title you’ll need to check your author ego at the door and let our marketing department do its job. And don’t worry. Legal is handling everything else. We’ve done nothing against the law here, just a classic bait and switch.”

  8. 8
    jenifer says:

    I also can’t wait to see the entries!

    Anyone who doesn’t have photoshop can download GIMP for free (Windows, Mac, Linux). It’s probably not as fully featured as photoshop, but it does a lot. Definitely more than you need for this type of image editing.

  9. 9
    RIF says:

    Repeat after me “Reading is fundamental”.

  10. 10
    Crystal Adkins says:

    Saw Shiloh’s request for someone to do one of her covers on her FB page :) hopes she likes what I came up with :)

  11. 11

    Saw Shiloh’s request for someone to do one of her covers on her FB page :) hopes she likes what I came up with :)

    LMAO.  Man, if I end up with like 10 different covers in this thing, I swear, I didn’t exactly plan that.

  12. 12
    Pam says:

    I have a nifty idea for this and—bonus!—it will be a Photoshop learning experience too.

    Dumb question:  When you say midnight Friday, July 24, do you mean the midnight that comes before Saturday a.m. or before Friday a.m.?  I know that sounds incoherent, but I almost had my insurance cancelled because I misread midnight as the midnight at the end of the specified due date instead of the beginning of the due date.  Hopefully, you SBs aren’t as evilly devious as my insurance company.


  13. 13

    Dang it. I wish my bud Anne Cain wasn’t busy hobobbing at Comic Con. You guys may have to suffer through my lame graphic skills because I have an idea…

    verification word hundred67   You will no doubt utter more than 167 groans when you see my entry.

  14. 14
    Mollyscribbles says:

    Hmm . . . would it be considered kosher to get a cover blurb from a buddy of yours who just happens to be named Dan Brown?

    I went to high school with a girl named Nancy Drew; I bet she could boost a YA mystery author’s sales.

  15. 15
    Megan says:

    also did a cover for Shiloh….that’s two.

  16. 16
    saltwaterknitter says:

    This is a bit off topic, but back when I was new to the romance genre I somehow thought that Nora Roberts was the real life name of the woman who wrote the Danielle Steel books. Whoops.

  17. 17
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    This is hilarious!  It reminds me of a scene in one of the sequels to Little Women in which Jo March Bayer receives a request from an aspiring writer to put her name on the cover of his novel; once it becomes a runaway bestseller her name will be taken off and his put on.  I somehow got the impression that Louisa May Alcott must have gotten requests like that herself and couldn’t resist spoofing them.

    Unfortunately my Photoshop skillz are such that I’d need another week to complete this assignment.  I do have an idea, though.

  18. 18
    Elaine R says:

    Shiloh is going to have about a zillion covers.  I also did one for her.

  19. 19

    Shiloh is going to have about a zillion covers.  I also did one for her.

    Snicker.  Ummm…. oops?

  20. 20
    CupK8 says:

    If I have dead time at work tomorrow, I may play around with this.  If not, I will thoroughly enjoy everyone else’s submissions!

  21. 21

    I can’t wait to see all the covers!

  22. 22
  23. 23

    Every blogger worth her salt knows that you can tweak headlines for more hits by the post title – I write a lot about autism – and when I add Jenny McCarthy to a post my numbers go way up.  I’ve never thought of such trickery on a book cover though! Do you think Dan Brown turned the author down for a blurb and this is payback time?  (Teasing.)

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