Friday 30 September 2016

"Fuck you!" covers...

There are covers that are so bad they're good. There's a sub-culture dedicated to showing you the most comic examples.

Here's one:

It may be a terrible cover but it took some effort. Some skill even. I couldn't draw a horse-thing nearly that well.

Then there are the covers that seem to have been bizarre experiments by people who perhaps haven't read the books. Here are 2 terrible, low-effort US covers for Daniel Polansky's excellent debut, Low Town, and a decent if dull cover for the same book (re-titled) in the UK. Click for detail.


But then there are the fuck you covers.

Del Rey blessed SPFBO winner Michael McClung with this beauty.

How long did it take someone on Paint (the free graphics tool, not huffing it) to come up with that? But let's be fair here ... this was an ebook cover back in 2003 and back in those days nobody knew if ebooks were really going to be a thing...


What excuse do Night Shade Books have for this nonsense?

This is an omnibus of the first two parts of Courtney Schafer's excellent Shattered Sigil trilogy.

I'm offended on her behalf by this lazy shit...

They even got the name of the first book wrong (Whitefire, one word). I could do better than this in ten minutes with Paint. And I'm no good at this stuff. My readers did much better than this making deliberately bad covers.

Anyway. Don't be put off by the cover. They're great reads and the third book, The Labyrinth of Flame is also fine work, available everywhere. Get it here. (If you want books 1 & 2 and you're outside North America you can get them from the author).

Join my 3-emails-a-year mailing list.


  1. While I agree with you on most of these covers, I disagree on the Polansky "dull" cover. While I don't buy books based on covers, it is highly likely that once a cover catches my eye, I will stop and read the blurb or the comments. And that's exactly how Polansky came into my world. That lozenge shaped cover caught my eye, I thought it was different and cool and stood out amongst an Amazon page filled with swords and brawn and "tough" looking covers that are all trying too hard. My point is, clean and simple can sometimes be better than cluttered.

    1. IIRC the US publisher dropped him for poor sales while the UK publisher put out all three books to a growing following. I think that cover sunk him even if not *everyone* hated it.

    2. Maybe. But I wonder if the series didn't do well in the US because the publisher didn't do enough (or any) marketing for him. I would love to know what he says about it. I have a good friend, Robyn Thurman, whose Cal Leaandros series sold fairly well in the US (it's a gritty, violent urban fantasy series, she is currently on book 11) and I know that she had a lot of problems getting support from her publisher and, I believe, ultimately ended things with that company. And this is despite the fact that her series sold really well and she has a solid fan base.
      Regardless, I do agree that covers can make or break the book and I'm really glad Polansky had that cover because I may not have picked up his book and I would have missed out on one of the best series I've ever read.

  2. Re Nightshade. It's not just some NS covers that make you shake your head. I downloaded an ebook sample of one of their books a while back and proofreading was atrocious. "Prologue" was printed "Proloque" and before I reached halfway through the prologue, there were about 10 more errors. I shifted to the audiobook which pronounced the name of the author as well as the name of the world wrong. Too much carelessness all around. Add to that their really high price point of some ebooks, one for $21. Price has since gone down to within the normal range but I can imagine they lost some sales that first week.