Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Covers and Cyber Bullies

I awoke today to find that another person in the author community has been sent private messages telling them to kill themselves over book covers.

That's right, I know more than one person who has been the victim of this kind of bullying. And the reasons for it are incredibly ridiculous.

First, let me wax philo-something over book covers. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Yeah, I'm old. But more importantly, I grew up in the hey-day of bodice-ripping romances. Maybe that's why I'm so unconcerned with whether someone's cover looks similar to another's. Back then, that's how books identified their genres.

No joke. You could tell what kind of story you were getting based on what was on the book cover. Spaceship over a planet? Hard sci-fi, likely male MC. Barbarian with a sword and sexy chick kneeling nearby? High fantasy (maybe soft sci-fi), male MC, romantic subplot. Fabio looking guy hovering over woman half-undressed?  ROMANCE! Background has a castle? Historical romance. Background is a ship? Historical romance with pirates! Fabio wears a kilt? Scottish historical romance. Fabio wears boots? Western romance...

Seriously, you could change the shirt and hair color and background just to change the covers of the romances. There were maybe three or four positions that the couple were in, but everything else was virtually identical.

Now people sit there and talk about how a different image was used, the font was changed and THAT'S ALL... and I have no idea what the deal is. It's not the same cover. The hype over unique covers is so weird.

ONE MILLION new books are published each year. That means, since I started actively publishing my books, THREE MILLION books have been published. That's a lot of covers. And many of them are going to look similar. In my opinion, for genres, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

To be clear, I'd love to see more diversity in book covers - but I'm looking more for racial, size, gender (non-sexualized women, please, for the love of whatever deity you hold dear!), ability, etc, etc.

Book covers can only be so original before all the originality either gets used, or becomes nonsensical. Let's get over that particular issue really quickly.

NOTE: the quality of a good book cover seldom has to do with originality. Just because I'm not huge on making totally original covers doesn't mean I don't want GOOD covers. It's a different metric altogether.

Now, for the bullying aspect.

To those who would send such a message, I'm just going to say this really loud and clear:
If you get so hyped up over a book cover mimicking other covers that you are willing to message the creator/author to tell them that their career is over and that they should KILL THEMSELVES over YOUR issue regarding their book cover, they aren't the one with the issues.


A book cover.

To those who have had such messages sent to them, I'm going to say this:
Screenshot those messages. Do NOT mark out the name of the sender. Share it.

Yeah, I get it. The person who sent such a message may have had a point or a reason, or whatever. Yeah, most people might not even care about the message they sent. But some of us in the authoring community are more than willing to restrict access to people who would go there.

In other words, if you want to take your possibly correct stance to the point of telling someone to kill themselves, you may find yourself with a MUCH smaller author/promo network. That is a line, and there WILL be consequences.

I don't care how much you feel righteous about your stance on someone else's work. Don't cross that line.

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