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Book covers

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MLS859
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Book covers

Post by MLS859 » Thu October 9th, 2008, 12:22 pm

This may have been discussed before (I'm still a relative newbie) but what is the thinking behind so many historical fiction book covers having a portrait of a woman but only half of her face visible?

I don't mind the covers but it makes me wonder what made this this "in" thing to do?

How do the authors here feel about them?

Thanks.

Lynn

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Thu October 9th, 2008, 12:51 pm

I think they started with Philippa Gregory's novels and caught on from there. I think readers like them because they're attractive and because they allow the reader to imagine the heroine's features, rather than being tied to the artist's vision.

The reissued version of my first novel that's coming out next year will be sporting a "headless woman" cover (actually, it's the heroine's ear that's prominent). It's taken from a Rembrandt painting.
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MLS859
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Post by MLS859 » Thu October 9th, 2008, 1:04 pm

Thanks, Susan. I wondered if it was just a "fad". As I mentioned, I certainly don't mind them -- was just curious as to the "why".

When I see a half-faced woman, I immediately think "historical fiction" -- just as there are certain type covers which will make me think "chick-lit". I suppose this can be a good thing -- but I hope I don't miss something wonderful because I've judged a book by its cover!!

Lynn

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Post by boswellbaxter » Thu October 9th, 2008, 1:17 pm

[quote=""MLS859""]Thanks, Susan. I wondered if it was just a "fad". As I mentioned, I certainly don't mind them -- was just curious as to the "why".

When I see a half-faced woman, I immediately think "historical fiction" -- just as there are certain type covers which will make me think "chick-lit". I suppose this can be a good thing -- but I hope I don't miss something wonderful because I've judged a book by its cover!!

Lynn[/quote]

It certainly seems to be a good form of "branding." I notice that Crown has "gone headless" with its latest Jean Plaidy reissue, To Hold the Crown. The King's Confidante will be getting one too, whereas the earlier Plaidy reissues had vignettes or portraits of the historical figure involved. (Personally, if I were Thomas More I would tell Meg to yank up her bodice a bit.)
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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Thu October 9th, 2008, 7:41 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""] whereas the earlier Plaidy reissues had vignettes or portraits of the historical figure involved.[/quote]

Get the earlier reissues while you can!

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xiaotien
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Post by xiaotien » Thu October 9th, 2008, 8:58 pm

i do think it is a fad.
even length of title, what's featured
on the cover--they all have trends.

same with the head chopped off
types which are also prevalent on
historical covers?

if they are in sumptuous costumes,
i don't mind. my cover will feature my heroine's
face--and i'm very glad for it. but it's
a YA near-historical fantasy. more fantasy
than history. heh.
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Thu October 9th, 2008, 9:05 pm

I dont mind them. I can pick em out quickly enough because a lot of books are doing this...or were. Its just like fantasy having a sword or dragon or troll on the cover. Samething in my opinion
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Post by Christine Blevins » Thu October 9th, 2008, 9:48 pm

It is a design trend, which is based on the success of such books as the Phillipa Gregory books, or WIDOW OF THE SOUTH. If something sells, it is a safe bet for publishers to try and mimic it.

There are a few reasons for the headless or faceless trend - it appeals to readers who want to imagine the character on their own, or maybe even imagine themselves in the role of the character. Omitting the head allows for a larger figure, with more focus on costume detail, etc. And it does create a type of brand for the historical genre.

The cover of my novel ended up "headless" , and because I was so pleased with the overall quality of the illustration, I did not mind. I've gotten a lot of emails from readers who say the bought the book because the cover was intriguing, so I guess it works.

The original illustration created for the MIDWIFE cover does have a head and a face showing - and eerily, the illustrator created an image that matched almost exactly the image I had of Maggie Duncan (my MC) in my mind's eye.

If you want to see, check the illustrator's blog:
http://paintlayers.blogspot.com/search? ... -results=8

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Post by Margaret » Fri October 10th, 2008, 1:46 am

Some people really hate them, but I think they're actually a good solution to the problem of putting a face on the front of the book that doesn't match the way author and/or readers visualize the character. I've been driven nuts by cover art that did not at all fit the description of the character inside the novel, and I had to keep readjusting my image of the character as I read, because I kept getting glimpses of the cover.
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Fri October 10th, 2008, 3:17 am

[quote=""Christine Blevins""]The original illustration created for the MIDWIFE cover does have a head and a face showing - and eerily, the illustrator created an image that matched almost exactly the image I had of Maggie Duncan (my MC) in my mind's eye.

If you want to see, check the illustrator's blog:
http://paintlayers.blogspot.com/search? ... -results=8[/quote]


Hmm interesting! I dont know which one I like better....
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