Dec 28, 2012

The Immortal Rules cover redesign, whitewashing & cover originality

It was no secret that I really didn't like the original cover for The Immortal Rules. It was a little cheesy and, while it stuck to the story of the book, the main character was whitewashed on the cover.

I even drafted up some really crappy versions of what I wanted to see -- the same title and such, even the same color choices, but with an Asian girl wielding a katana. Give it motion and action instead of a passive whitewashed crying girl. Mine, while not beautiful, fit the story better. (The comments all agreed on that.)

So when I found out that HarlequinTeen was re-doing the cover, partly to apologize for the whitewashing, I was ecstatic. I've loved a lot of their covers in the past and really looked forward to seeing what they would do.

Instead, they went this route:

(Thanks to Bloody Bookaholic for blogging about these; I never would have noticed otherwise!)

If these had been the covers they were originally released with, I probably would have felt fairly neutral on them. They certainly don't do justice to the book at all - hell, I don't see how they're connected to the book at all - but they're fairly standard and pretty and minimalist.

But considering the rerelease and why they changed them in the first place, I spot two issues.

The first, of course, is that these covers have little to do with the books. They look quickly drafted up for a novella or an inbetween story. Considering how well the first cover captured details of the book (even if I hated it), this seems like running in the opposite direction.

The second is the whitewashing. As you can see, there's no whitewashing on these covers. But that's because there's no person on these covers. Avoiding putting a POC (person of color) on a cover when you specifically re-do them because of a whitewashing controversy is just as bad as putting another white person on them. It misses the point.

These covers could have been great. Movie-poster-esque, maybe, in terms of a great action scene and things that popped. Instead they went the simpler route.

Now, my favorite literary agent Barry Goldblatt is right:

But I can't see how these covers will sell. They're going to be lost in a sea of other vampire books, other minimalist and dull covers,and they're not even going to reflect the book the right way - so who's to say the right audience will pick it up?

Julie deserves covers that are as amazing as her books are. Her Iron Fey covers are amazing. And while I don't want them to do a cover change again, because it would be pointless at this point, I can dream for a special box-set with special covers in the future.

Edit on January 3 2013:
Julie Kagawa just threw up a blog post about the new cover changes and why they were done. Three reasons are listed - dystopian v. vampire, majority rules and the whitewashing. While the covers don't have a person, apparently a cover model who looks like our protagonist will appear on the back cover or the inside flap. I'm not sure if that solves the issue, but it's better than nothing, I suppose.

3 comments:

  1. I don't like the original cover (not just because of the whitewashing - I haven't read the book yet, so I didn't know the cover was whitewashed until I saw people talking about it - I just don't like it).

    I definitely prefer these ones to the original...but I don't particularly like these either. They look like the movie title treatment posters that get released before the actual posters are ready, or the plain covers that are sometimes on really early ARC's as a place holder for the final cover.

    Honestly, I think there's a lot of readers who actually do a better job designing covers than some professional cover designers (look at the redesigns for some of John Greens books on tumblr, for example). And because they're usually also the target audience, they know what they like to see in a book cover. =/

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  2. When I first saw the new covers, my first thought was how they were just not bothering to put a person on to avoid whitewashing-which made me kind of sad as I ordinarily quite respect HarlequinTeen. These covers don't really pop to me :(

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  3. We don't mind the covers, but we do dislike what happened (whitewashing by omission) and we HATE that argument ("we're just doing what sells" is like saying, "money matters more than principles").

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