Hi Kelley Armstrong’s Cover Designers!

How you doing? I hope you’re having a pretty swell day. It might not be swell by the end of this but if the coffee was good this morning, that’s a win.

I’m writing to talk to you about Kelley Armstrong’s book covers.

First, this comparison was sent in by alert reader Ashley-Anne, who found them separately and had to send me the cover images.

Oh, my my.

Book Cover

Book Cover

It’s happened before, and I understand, obviously, that there are only 35 stock images to go around. Look at the pink legs that were everywhere. And yes, the tulle-wrapped legs are evocative of the first Bitten cover, which I can’t find a pic of right now (WTF?)

Problem is, Bree Despain has a total look going for her books, and the tulle-and-pale-legs thing is on her other book, too:

Book Cover

It happens. I totally get it.

But as I noodled around (yes, that’s a verb, and a very good cover image, since you’re not asking but I’m telling you anyway) Amazon, I noticed something truly heartbreaking.

Armstrong’s covers are straying deeply in to the Realm of the Twilight-Knockoff.

Book Cover

Book Cover

And what, by the way, goddam hell is this?!

Book Cover

This just has to stop. It’s Kelley Mother Fucking Armstrong! She wrote the werewolf book that rocked my world! She is the awesome! Stop making her books look like Twiwannabes and get on with the original images!

I’m not saying we have to go back to Stirring the Mist Naked with Man Hands covers but at least have SOMETHING original to do with the cover art.

Not everything is Twilight. Some things are really, really good. Like these books. Stop making everything paranormal homogenized black, red and white crap, please!

And for the love of God, NOBODY buy those checkered tights and then sit like that, ok? Ok.

Surely there is more to be done with cover art depicting strong women than making the images a low-fi knockoff of Twilight. I can only hope, anyway. Otherwise, this is just sad and embarrassing.

Hoping for something else soon,

Sarah

p.s. That font needs to stop appearing everywhere. I look at it, and I think, “Oh. It’s the Kresley Cole font.” Do you want me to think Kresley Cole when I look at someone else’s book? Of course not. That typeface is waaaaay tired. It’s like the Hoobastank of fonts. Make it stop now.

 

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Ranty McRant

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  1. 1
    Cassie says:

    Speaking of Twilightising (or Twilightizing, for those in the States), have you seen the classics they’ve been bringing out with Twilight-esque covers?

    Exhibit A: Wuthering Heights

    They’ve also dipped Pride and Prej, Jane Eyre and Romeo and Juliet into this mess.

    I am not happy. Not because they’re comparing Wuthering Heights to Twilight—-which, on a purely fucked-up-ness level, is a pretty fair comparison—-but because I am afraid readers of Twilight are going to consume Cathy and Heathcliff’s ‘love story’ as uncritically as they have Edward and Bella’s.

    NEITHER ARE FUCKING LOVE STORIES.

    At least, not any love story I would want myself or anyone I cared about to be involved in.

  2. 2
    Sarah W says:

    Not everything is Twilight. Some things are really, really good.

    I snerked so hard I woke the cat.

    After a second or to of blinking at the checkered tights cover, I had an overwhleming vision of a Kansas farmhouse falling on the book.

    Now that would be a Wizard of Oz re-cover—-except in stripes and red sparkly Choos, of course.

  3. 3
    Lisa says:

    Wow. What’s with the cheap shot Twilight jokes? Especially because this cover phenomenon has absolutely nothing to do with the content or quality of Twilight, and everything to do with making your book catch the eye of people who bought a branded bestseller.

    I didn’t much care for the Twilight books myself, but I actually think the covers are really nice.

  4. 4
    DS says:

    Did you get far enough into The Diva Ate Her to find the bit where the author was complaining about not being allowed to use the images from her bosses book covers on her web site in any way except book covers.  The publisher wouldn’t allow her to remove the lettering and use them as graphics because the publisher didn’t own the underlying images.

    You would think that someone as big as Bantam would be able to spend a bit on original art for Kelley Armstrong.

    Wasn’t Armstrong’s first book the one with the cover that showed soft focus cropped pale female body?  I seem to remember a discussion somewhere about if the woman on the cover appeared dead or not.  But it was an effective cover.

  5. 5
    CaroleM says:

    They are meant to catch the eye and remind the buyer of Twilight, unfortunately, that makes me glance at them and think: Oh it’s like Twilight.  And then keep right on going.  Wonder how many good books I’ve missed cause the publisher wanted me to identify them with a book I may or may not have liked?

    think82:  I’m thinking of 82 other books I’d buy before I bought Twilight or a Twilight clone.

  6. 6
    Daz says:

    I wouldn’t buy those books based on those covers and that’s a shame because I know they are good books.

  7. 7
    Patrice says:

    I’m right with ya on “copying” images from a trend. (especially Twilight esh) Why not copy Harry Potter covers next? Although I imagine that’s already been done. lol

    I do like the idea of changing covers on reissues and using a theme for the series, it’s easier for me to not repeat purchases! I wish publishers would make the images and theme actually relate to the content of the books! But I have the same complaint with some “first” covers. Some publishers seem to get it and some, tragically do not.

  8. 8
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    I understand why they would go the Twilight route.  For some reason, in publishing, they look at what sells and go, “Oh, that sold.  It must be exactly what all readers in every genre want.  Let’s do that.”  They do this without any consideration for what readers in a particular genre might actually want.

    I mean, look at the covers for P.C. Cast’s reprints of the Partholon books.  Goddess of the Rose, which was one of the sweetest, most wonderful romances I have ever read, ended up with an Ellora’s Cave-esque erotica cover, and Elphame’s Choice suddenly got packaged like a young adult novel, as did Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, etc.

  9. 9
    DS says:

    The latest Deanna Raybourn is channeling Twilight also. It took me a bit to figure out why I was so put off by the cover, when I’ve enjoyed her first two mysteries. Subconsciously, I should be going new Raybourn, yay, instead of, there’s something a bit off putting with that cover.

    Maybe the publishers are making sales to people who respond favorably to the images, but to me it’s like when I used to listen to music radio and the FM stations would play a song until I hated it.

  10. 10
    Mama Nice says:

    “Hoobastank” of fonts” bwah-ha-ha!

    With the all black cover background and crisp white font I was getting that Twi-la-vu feeling even before you showed me the copycats below the fold.

    It’s a pretty obvious marketing gimmick, and unfair to the author, if she’s as good as you say – she deserves to stand on her own (well, every author does, I just mean if she’s notably talented she doesn’t need the crutch of “BUY ME I’M LIKE THOSE OTHER BOOKS YOU LIKE” to peddle her books to buyers. )

    I shall buy those checkered tights, I am always looking for ways to make my thighs seem fatter, and you never know when a need for an impromptu chess board will pop up.

  11. 11
    Grace says:

    I don’t mind the black/red/white combination.  I just don’t like that I now associate it with Twilight (of which I only made it through 3 chapters of book 1).  Logically, I know better, but now each time I see a Twilight-esque cover I automatically think “Pass.  Crappy writing,” and move on to something else.

    Are we sure those are tights?  To me, those checkerboards look like they’re painted on her legs.

  12. 12
    Nadia says:

    The first time I saw the Twilight books was at a school book fair.  I had no idea what they were about, but thought to myself “Damn, those are some seriously excellent book covers.”  Have never read the books, so cannot comment on the percentage of craptastic between the covers.  But here’s the thing – good or bad writing, the covers are a trademark of that series, and anything else does look like a knockoff.  And if the stellar covers couldn’t entice me into the original series (not much interest in teen protagonists here) then I’m not likely to even pick up a bandwagon-hopper to see what it’s even about.  However, the Twilight books sold like hell yeah, so maybe enough tween and teen girls (and thirty/fortysomething suburban moms, I think I’m the only one I know who didn’t devour the books) looking for their next series will latch on to those covers.  I’m sure that’s what the publishers are hoping, it’s just such an obvious ploy.

  13. 13
    Marie says:

    Actually, the ‘Frost Bitten’ cover reminds me of the “True Blood, Season 2” promo poster, which at the time, I thought was totally awesome.  And I can’t say I’m a fan of Charlaine Harris’ bookcovers either.

    I don’t mind the black, red and white so much.  What I do mind is the same image being used for 2 different authors.  That to me is insulting.

  14. 14
    Literary Slut Kilian says:

    A friend lent me some Sookie Stackhouse novels while I was laid up in bed after surgery.  Loved them and beat feet to the library to pick up the ones she didn’t lend me.  I remember being befuzzled by the cover art on some of them – all gothic black/white/red, while the others were cute. 

    I don’t have a TV, so was completely unaware of the True Blood HBO series, and I remember telling the librarian that the covers were so at odds with contents that people who were attracted to the covers wouldn’t like the books, and people who would like the books would be put off by the covers.  I didn’t realize they were trying to lure in the TV fans with misleading covers. The whimsical covers match the books’ contents, the Gothic not so much.

    Kinuko Craft is the only cover artist that will sell me a book without question. If she’s done the cover, I buy the book. I’ve never been disappointed

  15. 15
    Gina says:

    I don’t really mind the copying as long as the knock-off is better than the original. But the Bree Despain covers are gorgeous and the knock-off is… not. Shame, because the Women of the Otherworld series is so fantastic.

  16. 16
    Lady T says:

    That last cover reminds me of that Tom Petty video for “Don’t Come Around Here(No More)” with it’s creepy Alice in Wonderland theme and the backup singers in the black and white checked unitards:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0JvF9vpqx8

  17. 17
    Hannah says:

    I think the Twilight and Twilight-esque covers are amazing, though I’m not a big fan of the series (I couldn’t even finish book 1). I also think they’re fab on classics like Wuthering Heights.

  18. 18
    Kristina says:

    OMG Lady T that is exactly the song that started running through my head when I saw that cover.  I just kept picturing them slicing up the Alice cake and her screaming.  lmao!

    Anyway, back to my original comment…….

    Ahhhhh I’ve been away for awhile cuz it got busy at work and I just didn’t have time to read or comment.  (it’s still busy but I’m being a slacker right now)  BUT, please stop reissuing series books with new covers!!!!  You’re messing me up publishers!  I’m like 8-10 books into this dang series and I have serious OCD about my series books matching cover themes.  Seriously, I’m twitching right now as I suppress the urge to go wishlist the new covers on Amazon. 

    *twitch*

  19. 19
    Rima says:

    Is it just me, or are those legs really, REALLY skinny? Like anorexic skinny? Ew. Not very romantic, if you ask me.

    I do agree, however, that the Twilight covers rock. Half the battle is getting someone to notice the book, and that cover did it for me. The writing? Not so much.

  20. 20
    SB Sarah says:

    When the Twilight covers came out, they were amazing. After so many images of Too Much Going On, they were spare and evocative. I saw them from across a bookstore and literally said, out loud, “Holy shit.”

    But now that everything from Wuthering Heights to Bob’s Guide to Plumbing are being reissued with Twilight-esque covers, it’s done. It’s jumped the sparkly shark. I was in Barnes & Noble (where “barnes” is for “books” and “noble” apparently is for “toys”) and a good 2/3 of the YA section was black covers with white/red accents, like a hose of Twilight was sprayed all over each book.

    This makes me irritated because it not only demonstrates a lack of creative thinking except OH LOOK BANDWAGON LET US JUMP, but it sends a message that These Books Are All the Same and are All Comparable To One Another. No creative thinking involved, really – they’re all Twi-clones, packaged like such.

    And oh holy night they are SO NOT. I am well aware that there are many people who adored the Twilight series. If you liked it, go on with your bad self. I did not. I gave it a D if I recall. Sorry – a D+. I disliked it so much, I had to wank on for a few thousand words about how Edward was a throwback to alpha male heroes and how Bella’s worldview and her identity was so quickly subsumed into his. The entire courtship and portrayal of adolescent love in the series gave me the squicks on many levels. Did it work for you? That’s cool. Did it work for me? Not so much. I’ve been pretty up front about that.

    So when I see every other YA book that might possibly feature a romance, or maybe a paranormal element, or maybe frequent and enduring use of the letter S packaged to look like Twilight, which was a phenomenon (good or bad) unto itself, I’m insulted as a consumer and irritated as a reader. Not every book is the same. Not every YA book is the same. Not every portrayal of courtship, vampire or not, is the same. But that homogenized message remains and is spreading into books outside the YA genre, like Armstrong’s as detailed above, and it just needs to stop.

    Especially those checkered tights. Those absolutely need to stop.

  21. 21
    Suze says:

    Isn’t it frustrating that such mediocre books won the cover lottery?  I’m an e-book shopper now, but the covers still catch my eye, and I go surfing right on past uninteresting covers.

    Bitten was indeed teh awesome.  The rest of the women of the underworld have been kind of hit or miss for me, but Elena and Clayton are mesmerizing every time they show up.

    I like the covers for Lara Adrian’s vampire series.  I also like the covers for Carolyn Jewel’s demon series, but I’m starting to see copycats of it, which is frustrating me.  Oooh!  New Demon book!  Oh, no, this is something else (toss away without even considering it).  Whoever the copycat cover’s author is, she’s getting screwed.

  22. 22

    I like the Armstrong covers.  Love the checkered tights.  The chess pieces are a bit much, but whatever.  It doesn’t register as a Twilight ripoff for me.

    What I don’t like are those freaky ghost legs!  AAAACKKKKK!!! Double-jointed corpses are not sexy.

  23. 23

    Okay, wait.  I just looked at the Twilight covers (I’ve never studied them in detail) and I take it back. Chess pieces, red ribbon, check check.

  24. 24
    Rima says:

    For the record, Sarah, I totally agree about the Twilight knock-off covers. Nothing keeps me from buying a book more than a Twilight wannabe.

    Hire a graphic designer and get a fresh idea, for God’s sake.

  25. 25
    JaneyD says:

    Hey—I once put on checkered stockings and posed my legs like that.

    I had a charlie horse. a BAD one.

    Clearly the stockings were to blame.

    And YES-OH-YES! Kelley deserves better covers!

    I’ve had some bad covers in my career and another is on its way.
    When it comes to the point where I can do better myself, it is a BAD cover.

    I have my embarrassed face on standby with the, “Sorry, I have no control over it, and I don’t know what drugs the art and marketing department are on, but I want some.”

    My editor was sooooo proud of it and took my aghast silence for happy awe.

    You can figure our writer/editor relationship is also seriously flawed.

  26. 26
    Lora says:

    Alas my freakishly pale legs—they are drowning in fluffy fabric, again! Save me hot vampire boy save me.

    Oh, wait…are they not all the same book? I’m new here. I’m sick of seeing red on black covers. Hello, yes the twi cover with the flower was pretty. Can we move past that, please? For moi?

    And those friggin tights—circus, perhaps. Surely the stretchy checks would be unflattering to any nonsticklike legs.

  27. 27
    SB Sarah says:

    There is a side of me that wants to ask the folks from What Not To Wear how I look in those tights. Just to see the expressions on their faces.

  28. 28
    joanne says:

    The model on the Despain covers got pregnant?


    http://tiny.cc/890h2 

    ( if that link works I’m going to be doing some really bad happy dance)
    It’s the Time magazine cover for October 4, 2010.

    I’ve almost stopped looking at covers. Or the genre label on the spine. I absolutely go by author or trope and nothing else and still if it’s a new to me author I might get burnt.

    Books that are labeled romance often aren’t and books that are erotica aren’t always labeled erotica and etc, etc, etc.  And why is a

  29. 29
    RandomRanter says:

    I secretly love those tights also.  And the Wuthering Heights reissue is particularly hilarious because Bella and Edward make fun of WH in the third book I think (which is also funny, bec ause their relationship is at least as disfunctional and they are quoting the love bits to each other while making fun).

  30. 30
    Teri C says:

    Whoa that is like book cover blasphemy!
    Dang! and Bree Despains book rocked.
    Hey what is the next summer book club pick while I am thinking about it ?
    ;)

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