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Covers Matter

Selling a book to a publisher is hard enough. Getting people to actually read the damned thing is harder still. So why do so many publishers allow mediocre covers (or off-topic ones) to grace their books? It’s almost like they don’t have a stake in the success of the books they publish. Very strange. Is the entire publishing industry just a big tax write-off? I’ll sic some of my conspiracy nut friends on this.

I’m a very big fan of Larry Correia. He writes some kick-ass novels that involve tons of action, guns, humor, and, inevitably, something weird. This guy is on the verge of really hitting it big. But Baen, his publisher, has saddled him with some sub-standard covers for the first two of his Monster Hunter novels. It’s not that they’re terrible, but they’re not that great either. Maybe it’s because Baen is a Science Fiction/Fantasy publisher, and these books are neither in my opinion.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like the Fantasy genre. I think the main reason is the names, both places and characters. They just strike me as exceptionally…well, dorky. I don’t care why Scrimish McAlderberry is searching for the Magical Casting Stones of Everton. I just want him to be eaten by a dragon.

And that’s the frustrating thing about these covers—I NEVER would have picked up one of these based on the covers alone. I’ve even had a few friends give me grief about reading something that looks suspiciously Fantasy-y (or -ish or -like). Baen has done a rising star a grave disservice. Thankfully, Correia’s great reviews and talent have overcome Baen’s ineptitude. (I’ll talk about their crappy page layout another time).

The third cover is substantially better. It more accurately conveys the tone of the story. Maybe they’ve seen the light. In the good old days, these books would have been classified more correctly as Horror. But that genre has fallen out of favor with most of the major publishers. So sometimes you just have to take what they give you, I guess.

Unless you publish your own books, that is. The trouble with that is getting the word out that your book exists at all.

Ah, the monstrous conundrums.

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