I am not really a Twitter fan, but sometimes I do run across interesting articles that I wouldn’t find otherwise. Today I happened upon some tweets by Jennifer Weiner. Since they were a bit puzzling, I followed the trail back to what appeared to be the original reference, which was an article related to gender and fiction. The article that evoked the reaction appears to be this, Book By Legal Scholar Gets the Chicklit Cover in Jezebel. It showed both the hardback and the paperback cover of a serious novel and asked if you’d pick up one or the other. Personally, I found them both a bit “chick-lit”-ish and wouldn’t have picked up either. Actually the hardback looked like a YA novel to me.
I found this short piece interesting in relation to a blog I wrote where someone commented that the women’s fiction was mostly defined by the cover. In the comments on the Jezebel post I found a link to another tweet and the resultant piece in the Huffington Post relating to the hypothetical changes in covers given to male and female authors. I’m sure everyone has read at least one of the books that was featured, and the shifts in cover color and design certainly tend to lend credence to the idea that “women’s fiction” is all in the (cover) marketing. Worse, it makes the case that any book written by a woman is forced to appear to be a book of interest only to other women. Check it out. Toward the end of the piece there is a slideshow of alternate covers for around twenty book titles.
Pick one of your own manuscripts or books. What would the cover look like if you were the opposite sex?
For mine, I’m going to pick my manuscript with the most “manly” title. Maybe titles are the first giveaway rather than the actual cover?
I have one titled Man in the Middle. If the book were written by Chester Arthur Cole, the cover might feature the figure of a one-legged man with a cluster of women in one corner and a motorcycle in another and fishing equipment in the third. Candy Apple Cole’s cover would be a handsome man with a surprised look on his face and a perky woman on either side, kissing his face. Probably one or both would be holding a rose and the cover itself would be pinkish red.
With this in mind, how would you see your books illustrated? Would you select one cover over the other if you were a reader?