Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Under Cover of Darkness

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Bruce -
Subject: Under Cover of Darkness
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Ok, I couldn't come up with a more clever subject title, so shoot me. As you know, I love HF (or I wouldn't be in this forum) and it is by far my favorite genre. Sadly, I have read little HF this year. My wish list books aren't coming through in timely fashion so when I go bargain book shopping I find lots of HF. The problem is that these books are almost certain to contain headless, cleavage busting heroines (or damsels). Now, I appreciate the female form as much as the next guy, but I read in a lot of public places - parks, doctor's office, cafes,  ....if there is a chance of alone time or a waiting period you can be sure I have a book tucked under my arm. Do you see the problem? I can't be seen reading these books! It's a negative testiment to my manhood. I might as well be wearing high heels and lipstick. Sure on hardbacks, I could take the dust jacket off but I don't wanna. I like the dust jackets ON the book. Paperbacks, I'm SOL.

I realize women make up the majority of HF readers but would it be so hard to give us men a break? Maybe, and I'm being serious now, they would attract more male readers with a more neutral cover. So perhaps those of you who hobnob with HF writers (eh-hem, Jerelyn) would be so kind as to pass on this most modest request. Let's tear down the gender barrier in HF so we men can read a good heroine story without hiding under the covers with a flashlight. Hey, maybe my title wasn't so bad after all.



Last Edited on: 4/18/12 2:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 3:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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Bruce, from what chats I've had with authors and what not, very few have much control over their covers - they get what the publisher decides for them. Some authors get some leeway for putting in feedback of what they like and don't like, but you've got to be a big player to have much say-so.

We can also look at this in a different context. I love to read the older historicals (and the older romances), and many (well most) of them have outrageously bodice rippery covers (look at some of those older Jean Plaidy covers).  People will always think the worst, but I am glad many of those older titles are showing up on Kindle. That way, no one sees the cover cheeky

 

Date Posted: 4/18/2012 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I feel for you, Bruce, and I've seen various versions of this discussion/complaint in several different forums.  The reality seems to be that the publisher has all the power in deciding what goes on covers.  And there are examples of established  authors whose sales jumped significantly once the publisher went to the headless female type cover. As far as the publishers are concerned, those covers increase sales, period, and they don't seem to give a rat's patootie that it alienates some potential buyers. 



Last Edited on: 4/18/12 3:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Bruce, Cathy has undoubtedly had more conversations about this with authors than I have.  Very few authors have much say in anything once the publisher has the finish manuscript in hand.  Go to the PBS Kiosk, to the "go shopping" page, at the bottom there are some really nice cloth book covers there, to protect your privacy. 



Last Edited on: 4/18/12 3:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Bruce -
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Go to the PBS Kiosk, to the "go shopping" page, at the bottom there are some really nice cloth book covers there, to protect your privacy.

Good suggestion but sorta like wrapping fish in newspaper- it's not as ugly but it still stinks. I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to get me one of them publisher jobs.

Date Posted: 4/18/2012 6:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I asked my son, who is a graphic artist, why he thinks there are so many headless displays. And it isn't just books. He says it's so that whoever is enjoying the art can imagine themselves as the headless person.

I dunno. Doesn't work for me either bruce.

But I second the suggestion to buy book covers. There's also the Kindle. wink

Date Posted: 4/18/2012 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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LOL  Bruce.

I guess it come down to the pretty package, if they can get you to pick it up, or if it catches the eye that is the first nibble on the hook isn't it?

Bonnie (LoveNE) - ,
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2007
Posts: 5,982
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Bruce, I don't know how much this will help but I promise NEVER to publish a book that doesn't have a manly cover...

 

ETA  Now would that be the exploding grenades manliness or power tools?wink



Last Edited on: 4/18/12 8:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 8:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,294
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You know what? I'm reading this about the eyecatching covers and I am really ticked. Angus Donald has some great covers on his books - just check his blog (BTW, Bruce - they are very manly). Can you find his books on the shelves of stores like B&N ?- NO! You have to ORDER them. I am of a mind that if people could see those covers they would jump right off the shelves. Instead, it's those boddice ripper covers that are staring all of us in the face - this just fries me. grrrr

Date Posted: 4/18/2012 10:40 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I agree, Jeanne.  Cornwell seems to be the only HF author with "not female" covers who gets good promotion.

Date Posted: 4/18/2012 11:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
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A couple of things  ... first of all, Bruce's comment about striking down the gender barrier struck me as very true. When we (Mom & I) recommend a book to one of our menfolk, we do so by subject matter, we never, ever mention the term "historical fiction" & while one uncle might list HF as a genre he enjoys, I don't think any of the others would - even though that is exactly what they are, in fact, reading. There is definitely a gender barrier & it is blatantly unfair ... but, as others have mentioned, it's all about the money.

Love your comment, Bruce, about wrapping fish in newspaper - not as ugly, but it still stinks! LOL!

It may not be much consolation, but I won't carry books with explicit, provocative covers out into public either. Not because of any prudish leanings, but because they are simply more trashy than what I want to be seen carrying around! 

We feel your pain, Bruce ... and share the angst!

Kelly

Bruce -
Date Posted: 4/19/2012 8:34 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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ETA  Now would that be the exploding grenades manliness or power tools?

Your on the right track Bonnie but since we are talking about HF I'd settle for a catapult or sledgehammer, maybe a couple of sticks for making fire.

Bonnie (LoveNE) - ,
Date Posted: 4/19/2012 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2007
Posts: 5,982
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LOL!  Now my husband would like said sledgehammer to be cracking skulls I'm sure!

Date Posted: 4/19/2012 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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Why not just get a book cover, or an ereader?  Then you can read what you like and not have to worry about the public's perceptions of the books' covers.  I read an article once that this is one of the reason ereaders have become so popular with women - they can read romance novesl without people around them seeing the book's cover.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 4/19/2012 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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I've tried an ereader but I'm too old fashioned. I don't like them. I love the feel of a real book with pages in my hand. But I have come up with a workable solution for hardbacks. I'll just take the dust jacket off a similar sized hardback and replace the headless cover dust jacket. Like young boys who hide Playboy inside Sports Illustrated, not that I know anything about that.  It's a rather simple and ingenious solution which explains why I didn't think of it right off the bat. We men sometimes make things harder than they have to be.