Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cover Love- Hot Covers?

Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #3)

So let's talk urban fantasy covers. I've been thinking for a while how there's usually a pretty hot main character on the cover. I'm talking UF here since that's the genre I'm interested in and I'm sure paranormal romance is somewhat different (there seem to be a lot more guys). And not every urban fantasy cover is like that. They go for a certain look though. Is it something that we accept because it's urban fantasy but if it was high fantasy would seem problematic? And that got me thinking about different genre expectations.

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)

Blood Bound in particular cracks me up- I mean, seriously? And there's the always present tank top- is that a costume requirement? I'm not trying to be sexist or generalize. If I was asking this on Twitter I'd probably be in trouble already. :)

Now the protagonist of your average urban fantasy is female and the readership is probably overwhelmingly female (I won't even get into the stats that show not a lot of men are reading) so they're not going for the male eye with these covers, are they? And I'm not saying women can't appreciate the female form- of course they can. Is it a case where the illustrator or cover design is assuming readers want to identify with a badass female heroine? And do we need to see other body types than the lithe sexy ones?  

Anyway- what do you think? Are hot women on UF covers just fine? 

Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2; Nightshade World #5)

41 comments:

  1. Blood Bound is definitely a mess because... why? I often notice UF covers where the woman is wearing hardly any clothes, and I'm just kind of like, isn't that just more dangerous and impractical to have more skin exposed when you're fighting and whatnot? Like, if I were fighting monsters, I'd want to be covered from head to toe. And it's kind of stupid to put so little clothes on the woman since being fully covered can still be sexy.

    I think maybe it's that, even the audience is predominantly woman, people still aren't going to be as interested in covers with unattractive people because we're pretty superficial when it comes to book covers and like looking at pretty covers with pretty people, regardless of gender. And I think it's like you said about making the women look badass and fierce. Maybe they think it portrays a "strong female character" better. I don't really mind the sexy woman on UF covers thing, but I would like to see more women with different body types.

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    1. Blood Bound is a mess lol. And I hate to pick on DdS because I do love his covers- I didn't mean to pick all Mercy thompson but I was in a hurry. :) But yeah... how do they fight that way?

      I think you're right though, it's common sense. People are drawn to attractive covers and even though it might be nice to have more body types, we probably won't get that lol. and would it sell?? And the fierceness thing too.

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    2. I wouldn't assume the artist is necessarily to blame for any cover. They're probably just doing what they were asked to do!

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    3. Yeah true. It's always interested me how much input an author has on their covers (my understanding is not a lot unless you're a big name) but how much input does the artist get? Someone like DdS for example. I know some artists have a lot of say in what they draw while others probably get more direction?

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  2. The covers don't bother me, but I do like to see them wearing clothing I feel they can at least fight in (since that's what they seem to do in UF). I happen to love the artist that does the Patricia Briggs books (and many others) so I'm pretty accepting of anything done by him. Like Kristen said though, different body types would be nice.

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    1. Exactly. How are they fighting (and surviving) in that skimpy stuff? lol I like that artist too though, his stuff is great (don't mean to pick on him!) and yes, other types would be nice, although we probably won't see them.

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  3. I think it's the right of the author to define their character and costumes- but I also feel that fighting in such uncomfortable and exposing clothes is pointless. That's just more skin that can be directly injured right?

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    1. True. And would the books sell if they changed them? Very possibly not. :)

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  4. I'm more bothered by poorly designed covers. I'm not one to censure so long as the covers perfectly match the characterizations inside. In this case, Mercy Thompson is a bad ass bitch so, #SLAY.

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  5. I like seeing a badass female with weapons and a great looking background but I do grind my teeth at having to see her bra or knickers on display. WTF is that all about! Fighting clothes would be more appropriate and seriously, Mercy doesn't fix cars with her bra on display! Health and Safety anyone?

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    1. Ha ha yeah that would be interesting for a mechanic to wear!

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  6. I appreciate the beauty of them but the crop tops are sort of ridiculous. All I can picture is her getting sliced right across those awesome abs.

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  7. I mostly enjoy the covers of UF books. But I like them most when the woman are normally clothed and look bad ass. For example the Night Broken one.
    Those ‘half naked’ woman just look kinda wrong to me. Why do they have to be half naked? What’s the point? Honestly, I don’t know any woman who would go outside like that! But I do see beautiful covers like that too.. So I think it depends on how the look overall is. Is the cover bad ass or does it seem like they just needed something to put on the cover.
    Great post!

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    1. I like them too. And I think you're right- there's a fine line. Sometimes they do work and other times it just seems... silly. They are by and large pretty good though. :)

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  8. Great discussion. No, I am not a fan of the hot chicks on the cover because I think they are misleading. THe books are so much more than the covers. Have you seen the covers for Ilona Andrews Series? White Hot is ridiculous and Burn for Me was another one that was awful. It doesn't match the story at all.

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    1. Good point, there is so much more to the story than the MC looking sexy. And I have not seen those covers, but I will go check them out!

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  9. They don't bother me as long as they aren't put in ridiculous positions that no woman would even think of trying. I do like Dan Dos Santos's work so I don't mind the Mercy covers and I usually end up paying more attention to her ink (tells the story inside) than what she was wearing. However, saying that, I do prefer a more badass cover. The ones that look like they could take your head off with a look. LOL

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    1. I like his work too and actually most of the MErcy covers I like! I guess I picked on him a little. Interesting her ink- I've noticed too her tattoos are pretty prominent but I've never paid much attention. I'll have to check em out. :)

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  10. Oh man, I am a straight up sucker for urban fantasy covers.. its how I got suckered into reading ALL of the City of Ashes books, and naming my daughter Tessa... haha! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. Really? That's awesome. I love the idea of naming someone after a beloved character.

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  11. I wonder this about romance covers too. The readership is like 99.9% women so who are they playing to when they have a mostly naked woman on the cover? I do know that the UF and romance covers do convey the mood and attitude that is supposed to be in the book but I'm thinking they could actually wear clothes while doing it. All the fighting and running around in a top that requires double stick tape just doesn't seem practical. I typically read these books on my Kindle so I can avoid the covers all together!

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    1. Exactly. Good point though- they're going for a certain vibe and the covers usually do capture that, I think. And the whole point of these is usually a badass heroine so you gotta have one on the covr! :)

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  12. The Blood Bound one is a mess. I agree there, but to be honest overall I don't really care if covers are sexy. It doesn't bother me at all, but I don't think it's always necessary.

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    1. Ha ha that seems to be a consensus- that one's just bad! I actually like the sexy covers lol but I couldn't help wondering. :)

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  13. At the least I think the covers are just stupid. It was the cover art on the Mercy Thompson series that kept me from reading it for so long - their ridiculous. And once you read the book they don't even accurately depict the character of Mercy - she's an auto mechanic and when she wasn't wearing coveralls, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. So I'm with ya, I don't get it.

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    1. Yeah I'm not actually sure they do Mercy justice, now that I'm into the series (albeit just book one). But I get what they're trying to sell although yeah she's like a mechanic and wearing jeans and T- shirts, like you said. Come on people! :)

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  14. Firstly, and on a slight tangent - I want to read the Mercy Thompson books. ;)

    I'm not sure why they have the hot women on the covers, because as you say, the readers are predominantly female!

    I personally don't have a problem with the covers but I guess when seeing a cover like that, you already sort of know what to expect in the book, and now if you change that would your readers still know how to find those sort of books?

    The Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine was much the same but the covers sort of related to what was happening in the books and there were actual action pics too, so I didn't really mind it at all.

    I don't have a problem with the half dressed women - it may not be practical or diverse but they do mostly look good.

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    1. I did too and I'm officially into book one now. So far so good. And good point- that's just UF and if they did switch would sales drop?? I do tend to like covers that show action or a scene from the book rather than just a pose... and yeah they do look good, I'm not complaining too much. :)

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  15. Such an interesting point - you would think these covers were being made to appeal to men and yet, nope! Women are the main readers! In the case of Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books, I know that the cover artist is a man... so maybe it has to do with his perspective of what looks good? As a reader of these books - I like to see a bad ass, tough looking woman on the cover. But they could wear more clothes in my opinion :)

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    1. I know, that was kinda my thought too? Not to say that there aren't women who appreciate it, because of course there are. I agree with you. And I don't think the author or publisher minds since I'm sure they sell books!

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  16. I definitely don't have a problem with hot ladies on covers (lol...) but I have to agree with you that they're pretty over the top most of the time. The Mercy Thompson covers in particular kill me, since there's no way in hell Mercy would wear half of those outfits. I suspect that part of the reason the cover models are often scantily clad on UF books is because it's a female empowerment fantasy: being tough, smart alecky, and sexy as hell. Who wouldn't want that? I agree though, sometimes they look dumb! 😂

    Some of the UF covers that I think are done well are Daniel Jose Older's "Bone Street Rumba" series; most of them feature women and they all look badass and sexy while being fully clothed, haha.

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    1. To be honest I like 'em- even though I'm posing the question I like a lot of the UF covers I see. yeah they're not super practical. :) I just started the first Mercy book and I don't see her wearing that stuff, but they are striking.

      I think you're right about the empowerment fantasy, I mean we want to live vicariously through these stories right?

      I haven't seen those covers- I will go take look! :)

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  17. I love this! So. Here's my take. If I am in the middle of some kind of... vampire battle, I am probably going to wear clothes I can move around in? You know, so I don't die? That is what strikes me about these covers- not that they're wearing tank tops but that like, they're wearing skin-tight, not able to breathe, boobs popping out tank tops. And the pants! I mean, if she even bends SLIGHTLY, those are going to be... idk, falling off? I don't even understand those from a purely scientific perspective bwhah.

    And like, I agree with you about females totally being able to appreciate an attractive female on a cover! But... I don't think most women (now I am the one generalizing ha) necessarily think that glued on, barely there clothes are what makes a woman look attractive? Like- if I am looking at a cover with a REAL badass woman, who is in like, fighting gear, and looks damn good, I can appreciate that! AND she would look like... well, like she actually wants to survive to the sequel ;)

    Also, these women all seem to have the same "look". Like- long hair, white girl, same exact body type... so that is also pretty problematic, too. And also.... some of those proportions are like, Barbie-style.

    But seriously, HOW are those pants not falling down? Especially the Three Days to Dead girl- they're... precariously perched at best. Just.. how? (Apparently, that is my biggest question/takeaway from this. The pants do not work, and my brain cannot handle it.)

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    1. Exactly! How are you fighting vamps in that kinda stuff?? But I agree there's more to sexy than scantily clad- I think if she looks badass that's a pretty good sexy too. :) Good point about the similarities- a little more diversity might not hurt. Maybe we'll see more- I think it will be real interesting to see what future UF covers look like.

      I love that takeaway! In fact I may have to examine this more closely... lol

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  18. I've never really thought about it before, but after seeing several of them side by side it kinda makes me think WHY? I totally get wanting to identify with a badass heroine - Buffy was sexy, and she often wore sexy clothes while kicking ass - but since, like you said, the main readership of these books is likely female, it makes you wonder the reasoning behind it. I've always thought 'it must be hard to kick demon/vampire/werewolf/whatever butt while wearing tight leather pants or tiny tops where you're barely contained, not to mention the hazards of claws and knives and swords with all that bare skin exposed.

    PS: You comment about if you were asking this on Twitter you'd probably be in trouble made me laugh - SO TRUE.

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

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  19. I've never really got the hot woman on the cover thing for UF. I mean, I along with other person can appreciate seeing a hot woman, but the only logic I can see is that you're meant to identify with the woman on the cover and feel somehow empowered that she can be badass and hot. I don't get it. But I also don't get why they put half naked men on the cover of romance novels, I can use my imagination perfectly well to picture my male lead, thank you very much. Also, that just means the books are a bit more embarrassing to read in public. I wish I could talk to the books publishers and the cover designers to learn what the spec was for the cover just to learn about the thought process behind it all.

    I suppose, at least the covers are a good talking point when someone asks about what you're reading, even if you do cringe a little when looking at them.

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  20. I agree with so much of this^^ I'd much rather see an attractive woman dressed TO kick ass than one in a tank top with her boobs hanging out and low-rise jeans XD I mean, to me you actually CAN't survive in those kinds of clothes...it would hinder your movements and cause you to...you know...die.

    I'd definitely like to see a bigger variety of female forms too. Curvy, skinny and different ethnicities too!

    What bugs me even more recently though is all the greased up shirtless guys showing up on my bloglovin' feed. I don't care how good the story is, if the book looks like that, I'm not reading it.

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  21. What an interesting discussion! I used to read mostly UF several years ago and the covers always baffled me a bit. I guess that it is supposed to portray someone we can identify as, but really the clothes (or lack thereof) is ridiculous! No one fights bad guys with their shirt unbuttoned. ;) Although, I find UF covers with women much less cringe-worthy than half naked men on romance covers.

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  22. You know, I've read some urban fantasy and I don't usually buy them for their covers (my Kindle is ANCIENT and doesn't show covers). I only really notice them when time comes to write the review. I don't know why they insist on putting half naked women on the covers, it's impractical!

    You know I'm always going on about the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron - that's one exception to the naked trend. The third book has a badass lady dragon on the cover but she's dressed in her ninja armor, so that makes much more sense. :)

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