Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Cover Model is Cheating on Me!

Scrolling through my news feed this morning (and I have a lot of authors in my news feed) I found one of my favorite cover models on someone else's cover.

When I was working up a composite for HEART FOR RENT, WITH AN OPTION, my cover artist found his face and sent it to me to approve, I was all thumbs up. Hey, he's a good looking man! Clearly, I'm not the only person who thinks so.

Just this month, I saw a new release that had the same cover couple that one of my writing buddies used on one of her books. Same people, same pose. How does that happen? Easy enough to explain.

Unless we're "A-list" authors who can justify custom cover shoots, most authors select their cover art from stock photos. There are cover artists who do their own shoots (shout out to the fabulous Killion Group) and offer exclusive rights, but that comes at a price. From the hundreds of thousands of stock photos, the chances of someone else picking your models, or designing it just the same way, are pretty slim, and yet it happens. For some of my books, I use my own background - and that writing buddy I told you about? She does the same. That option assures us that at least part of our cover is exclusive.

Back in "the day," romance novels all had the same model (well, not all of them, I'm using a broad, sweeping generalization). Remember Fabio? There was a time he was the hero ideal, and his face and flowing locks were on dozens of covers. Yes, I'd like my cover to be distinctive, but the cover is a first impression, something to draw you in. As a reader, once I start reading, I seldom go back to the cover to see if it matches the picture I draw in my mind (although other people might).

Big publishing houses are about the image, what the cover projects, and less about how well it matches the characters in the book. For them, its more about composition. The immediate impression telegraphs the genre, and it sometimes doesn't bear any resemblance to what's between the pages.

So my cover model is cheating on me. Considering my job is to objectify these people to sell books, I guess I'm okay with that. Every time I see this guy's face on someone else's book, I smile and pat myself on my back for my good taste in handsome men.


  1. Not all that long ago, cover model Jimmy Thomas set up his own stock image "store" and he's all over the place. A good cover designer should be aware of how many times she is using the same models, and the same pose, and change things accordingly. I know a writing friend has the same models on her cover as one of mine, and we used the same designer, but hers is historical, and mine is contemporary, and the designer was able to give each book its own look.

    And it's not just cover models that get 'cloned.' Sometimes it's the entire look of a cover.

    1. There are lots of artists out there, so one won't know what the next is doing. I saw a cover recently that was a clone of Jill Shalvis's latest novella.