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Thread: Hot...or not. Cover-art article

  1. #11
    Senior Member Alexandra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychotick View Post
    I have a horrible feeling we're overthinking this.... Cheers, Greg.
    Yes I agree, but isn't that often the nature of forum discussions?

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    Moderator Steerpike's Avatar
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    See one of the most recent cover re-imaginings at Jim Hines' site:

    Jim C. Hines Group Cover Pose Reveal!
    "If ever man stalked man, Flay stalked Swelter. It is to be doubted whether, when compared with the angular motions of Mr. Flay, any man on earth could claim to stalk at all. He would have to do it with another word." - Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan

    The Sword & Sorcery Anthology Shadows of a Fading World, available on Amazon.com.

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  4. #13
    Moderator Devor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychotick View Post
    I have a horrible feeling we're overthinking this. In marketing one of the first things that people should do is know their audience, and the audience for sci fi and fantasy generally begins as teenage boys. Obviously this is a sweeping generalisation. . . .
    Sweeping . . . . and untrue. I couldn't find a demographics breakdown, but if a book is geared towards children, it's usually classified as Young Adult and doesn't even appear in the Fantasy section of the bookstore.
    "Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G. K. Chesterton

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  5. #14
    Senior Member lawrence's Avatar
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    That's a pretty amusing alternative cover shot, steerpike!

    I put my hands up and say that if I am scanning over books or magazines (any genre) my attention will be caught by a beautiful female depicted therein. It doesn't mean I am looking for books illustrated in that way, but inevitably it is an effective way of giving me pause to at least consider reading the strap-line and blurb. I am equally likely to notice any other kind of striking artwork, from inanimate still-life compositions to dramatic design/logo renderings. If the tone, colours, images etc all conspire well enough together I will most probably take notice of their 'hey come over here' whisperings. I am highly visual, loving art as much as the written word. Millions of people are just the same.

    The Old Testament has a fascinating account of mighty beings (generally understood to be angels but its a point of debate) that were so enamoured of the beauty of the daughters of men that they gave up their positions in the heavenly realm to take human wives here.

    We might prefer that our literature be packaged differently, we might aspire to be less like moths drawn to flame, but the appeal of the human form is an ancient and deeply ingrained fact, and therefore a powerful marketing tool.

  6. #15
    Senior Member psychotick's Avatar
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    Hi Devor,

    I did some googling and found some demographics for sci fi readers. (old article) I'll post the link because I don't really want to cut and paste a whole chapter, and hope I don't get in any troble with the mods.

    Albert I. Berger Science-Fiction Fans in Socio-Economic Perspective: Factors in the Social Consciousness of a Genre

    As you can see from these, the traditional demographic for sci fi has been male, and starting reader age, young, early teens and younger.

    Cheers, Greg.

  7. #16
    Senior Member Zero Angel's Avatar
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    Is anyone attracted to specific cover artists? For instance, I can recognize Luis Royo's artwork and it always catches my eye. That might not translate to a sale, but it at least gets me to pick up a book and read the back cover.
    Zero Angel's War of the Ages

  8. #17
    Moderator Devor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychotick View Post
    As you can see from these, the traditional demographic for sci fi has been male, and starting reader age, young, early teens and younger.
    Thank you for pulling data. But quite a lot has changed since 1977 when this was written, and Science Fiction is not Fantasy. Among other things, fantasy can be less technical and more approachable to women, modern fantasy trends darker and older, and the whole genre has grown a lot from recent titles that have gone mainstream or else were successful cross-medium, since fantasy stories have actually become filmable.

    Your target market, of course, doesn't have to be every fantasy reader out there, but you'd be smart to at least consider the recent trends in what people are reading.
    "Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G. K. Chesterton

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  9. #18
    Senior Member lawrence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero Angel View Post
    Is anyone attracted to specific cover artists? For instance, I can recognize Luis Royo's artwork and it always catches my eye. That might not translate to a sale, but it at least gets me to pick up a book and read the back cover.
    Can't say I am familiar with particular artists, though I came across Justin Sweet a while back, he has some great work. I looked up Luis Royo's covers, amazing detail and light, if a little too raunchy for my taste :P

  10. #19
    Senior Member Zero Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
    Can't say I am familiar with particular artists, though I came across Justin Sweet a while back, he has some great work. I looked up Luis Royo's covers, amazing detail and light, if a little too raunchy for my taste :P
    A lot of his covers are not as "raunchy" as his artwork.
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  11. #20
    Senior Member Jamber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra View Post
    In other words, tis an old habit and old habits die hard.
    I agree wholeheartedly with Alexandra's point.

    For writers who want to appeal to a basically male (heterosexual) audience, the sexualised female on the cover probably does what it should.

    But for writers who want cross-gender or female appeal, it would make sense not to assume a male (and heterosexual) gaze. The trouble is we're all used to the tradition, I suppose...

    I can say for myself I don't go past sexualised females on covers all that often, unless there's a whole lot else happening. I do make an exception (when need be) though: Terry Pratchett, because he's so wonderfully humanist.

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