Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Janine
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:02:33

    So, what is the genre?

  2. SonomaLass
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:05:25

    What’s the right answer???

  3. Emmy
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:14:05

    I said kiddie porn, but my first guess was right.

    Also, this woman is a PhD English professor at LSU. Shopped this out to 50 people before it got picked up, and is based on the Sookie Stackhouse books. Will the wonders never cease?

    First, anybody can do this. I am a good writer- not a genius, not brilliant.

    First indicator of the contents of the book? Most people overestimate their skills.

  4. Jane
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:15:20

    @Emmy But Sookie Stackhouse has clothes and she doesn’t look like she is 10.

  5. Jane
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:17:05

    @SonomaLass and @Janine: I added a link to the cover so you can learn more about the book.

  6. Janine
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:26:43

    Ah. Thanks Jane. Color me surprised at the genre. I’m skeptical that this cover will sell to the target audience.

  7. Jane
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:38:02

    @Janine: “Hot” is the last thing I think of when I see this cover. Usually I’ve thought the Orbit covers have been great. This one, well, am shaking my head.

  8. LoriK
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:44:47

    I couldn’t vote because I couldn’t figure out which one of the poll options covers “The adventures of the characters from those gawd awful Love Is… comics on some kind of intergalactic crack”?

  9. rebyj
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 23:46:20

    I don’t see urban fantasy , I see a disturbingly exposed pre -teen . It’s not a look that would intice me personally to buy the book. I’d pass it up assuming it was marketed to the YA market or pedophiles.

  10. SonomaLass
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 00:35:29

    Yeah, I really see Lolita on that cover, and once I’ve got that in my head, there’s no going back. Although I definitely see the “Love Is” connection (snort).

  11. El
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 00:43:02

    Once I really looked at the boobs and the curves, I can’t see a pre-teen in it, despite my familiarity with the big-headed big-eyed girl trope. How someone will see it who sees the cover on a bookstore shelf I don’t know, but I don’t see her as a kid at all.

  12. Mora
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 02:01:43

    I did a double-take when I saw that cover yesterday. Does Orbit want the book to bomb? Talk about bad marketing. This so totally misses the mark they might as well just remainder the copies before they’re released and be done with it.

    I do feel bad for Nicole Peeler, though. It’s got to be upsetting for her, regardless of what she says in public.

  13. willaful
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 02:11:56

    The total look, aside from the suggestive nudity, is exactly like that of much children’s fantasy that’s published today–design, font, etc.

  14. NKKingston
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 02:44:53

    The total look, aside from the suggestive nudity, is exactly like that of much children's fantasy that's published today-design, font, etc.

    That’s exactly what I was getting. Though she clearly has breasts, the rest of the cover has the colours, font and scrolling you associate with children’s fantasy. The childish head gives it a Bratz look: some kind of Bratz-as-mermaids adventure, I’d have guessed if I saw it out of context.

  15. Mora
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 03:14:49

    I think it looks like a manga cover.

  16. Nadia
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 04:01:13

    I chose comic books. It’s not really a manga-style cover. (You’ll see the difference once you’ve lived in Japan long enough.)

    BTW — I find it very interesting that they chose to use the big eyes, soft lines, etc. Even if they were trying to make the cover look manga-ish, those features are usually reserved for innocent girls (a.k.a. good heroines). Antiheroines / adults usually get sharper lines and/or narrower eyes.

    I hope the author is happy with the cover. And I hope the book does well regardless of what people think of the cover.

  17. Mireya
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 05:25:25

    It does look to me like they are trying to attract teens and adults in their 20’s. That’s the impression I get. My guess was urban fantasy.

  18. Laura K
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 07:07:51

    Ick. Ick, ick, ick. Totally wrong. I know it’s not meant to be young adult, but that’s as close as I could come. It looks like some kind of cross between Coraline and Vilma Does Vampires.

  19. Kristen
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 07:11:17

    Looks like a naked Bratz doll. Ick.

  20. Chele
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 07:33:38

    Oh, just… yeah. Kinda speechless.

    I asked my 11yo on her way out the door what she thought of the cover and her first question was “Why is she naked?” followed quickly by “Is that one of those sex books I’m not allowed to read until I’m 18? Wait… why is that GIRL naked?” Several more rapid-fire questions/statements later (“Are they trying to get kids to have sex??”, “She’s kinda pretty, but kinda scary…”, “Seriously, why is she NAKED?!”, “That’s soooo not going to be allowed at school…”, “Can I have it? Wait… she’s naked… DAAAAAD, Mom’s making my brain hurt again!!”), she was escaping to school.

    I had just asked, “Honey? Before you scurry off, tell me what you think about this cover, please?” LOL

    I hope for the author’s sake that the book sells well, but I don’t see it happening. Not with that cover. It’s too confusing and a little misleading. I don’t see the targeted readers picking it up, and those that do pick it up because they’re attracted to the cover most likely won’t read (or won’t be allowed to read) that type of book and put it back down.

  21. katiebabs
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 07:42:25

    I thought I was the only one who thought this cover was freaky. I vote for UF.

  22. Cathy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 08:05:26

    I clicked “Kiddie Porn,” but was more thinking that it was a YA fantasy novel. Not sure why you’d have a naked cartoon woman on a YA book, but that’s where the art style and design elements were taking me.

    This book would catch my attention in the store, but only in a negative way. Even if the back cover description screamed “Best Book Ever!” I’d have a hard time not thinking about the sexualized child on the cover. And, unfortunately, the title reminds me of that Mona Lisa Rising book by Sunny. It probably makes me shallow, but the cover and title would be enough to make me pass on this book.

  23. Jessica Kennedy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 08:09:36

    I think it’s an amazing cover.

    I think it’s pretty. If you really look at the details of this cover you can understand exactly what’s going on.

    The issue of the cover art looking pre-teen pornish: I can understand where that’s coming from. It does look very anime with a twist of teen porn. BUT take a closer look. Obviously this cover will draw your attention. Pick it up and look at it.

    I think it’s gorgeous. I’m really interested in finding more out about this book and it’s author.

  24. Anion
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 08:51:35


    First indicator of the contents of the book? Most people overestimate their skills.

    With all due respect, Emmy, I totally disagree here. Perhaps most people do overestimate their skills; well, no perhaps about it, I agree that they do. Privately. Or when asked outright and they don’t think anyone will hear them, or about certain things. But only the worst sort of egotist publicly and loudly overestimates their skills, especially when they’re writers trying to sell books to the public.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but the minute I see a writer discussing what a great writer they are, I immediately assume he or she is in fact a total amateur who couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag. And sad to say, I have not yet been disproved in this assumption. (In fact, I can think of one person who has commented here with loud self-aggrandizing discussions of her Top Agent and her Great Skill and How Much Everyone Loves Her Work, and my reaction was a huge eyeroll–later I read her book and it was horribly written crap.)

    And to be honest, the publishing industry on a whole doesn’t lend itself to such thinking. All that rejection and fear doesn’t make for big egos, really, and the more one learns about writing the more one sees one’s own flaws. Even when we’re satisfied with our work we’re aware it’s not as good as [insert names here]; it’s usually not even as good as what we’d pictured in our heads. And other writers do tend to look at you askance if you run around talking about how great you are, as well.

    So to me, a statement like that is actually a pretty good sign that the writer in question is actually smart and self-aware.

    I should add as a disclaimer that I do know Nicole Peeler, vaguely, and that she is a very likeable girl. That isn’t my reason for commenting; I haven’t seen her work, so I can’t say whether it’s good or not. (And I am perfectly capable of separating the writer from their work.) But I thought your comment brought up an interesting point, and wanted to make it; basically, it’s considered poor form for writers to discuss themselves as though they were great. “I’m really proud of this book” is about as far as we go. Your experience may of course be different.

    Oh, and one more thing; shopping a book to 50 agents is absolutely no indicator that the book isn’t good. Tastes vary. What’s right for one agent may not be right for another. It happens.

  25. Anion
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 09:00:52

    Sorry, one more one more thing. Where are you getting that the books are based on the Sookie Stackhouse books? From the blurb on her site it appears to be about selkies.

    I don’t know; like I said I only knew Nicole vaguely and know nothing about her book. But a shuffle through her website didn’t turn up anything about the Sookie books, and the plot seems very different. Did I miss something? (That’s a real question, not being snotty.)

  26. ArkansasCyndi
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 09:12:08

    I guessed wrong when Angela James posted. I guessed YA.

    No matter. I still don’t like this cover. Too juvenile for intended audience.

  27. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 09:24:38

    Eh, I gotta admit…I don’t like the cover.

  28. Bree
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 10:19:13

    The first thing I thought when I saw it was that it looked like a slightly cracky version of a Lemony Snicket cover. I spent 5 years working the bookstore trenches and without a doubt I would have tossed that on the cart to go to Teen.

  29. JulieLeto
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:06:25

    I don't know about anyone else, but the minute I see a writer discussing what a great writer they are, I immediately assume he or she is in fact a total amateur who couldn't write their way out of a wet paper bag.

    Amen, sister.

    I don’t like this cover AT ALL. The Love Is… thing came to mind for me, too, but maybe we’re just showing our age! And as the mother of a young girl (11) who somewhat resembles that girl on the cover, it totally squicks me out.

  30. Leigh Ann Baird
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:25:36

    Face of a child and the body of a woman. Icky.

  31. Jen
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:32:36

    I like the cover. I do think it will appeal to a younger crowd–older teens and adult women in their 20’s, but I think that’s an audience a lot of publishers like to tap into.

    It’s definitely something that will pop on the shelves and grab a reader’s attention. It’s not like much else out there, that’s for sure.

    I read a comment upthread that the books are based on the Sookie series, but that’s actually not true. I think the PM announcement stated they are “in the vein” of the Sookie books, but that’s just in style really. Not much to do with subject matter or the world.

  32. Emmy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:34:55


    With all due respect, Emmy, I totally disagree here. Perhaps most people do overestimate their skills; well, no perhaps about it, I agree that they do.

    Well, that was clear as mud *gigglesnort*

    As for the Sookie reference, that came from an article in the LSU paper:

    She found her inspiration in Charlaine Harris’ book series: the series that HBO’s True Blood is based on.

  33. Nelly
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:39:53

    So many of the comments here seem like sour grapes to me. If the cover gets people to open the book, then they can judge for themselves by the quality of the writing. That’s the point, right?

  34. Jen
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:43:21

    @ Emmy

    A book being “based on” something is entirely different than finding inspiration in something. I find inspiration for my own writing in lots of things I read, but it certainly doesn’t mean I’m basing my books on these things.

  35. Lauren P.
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 11:49:06

    Hey guys – couldn’t help but weigh in as the Art Director of the cover in debate…I am pleased to see “comic book” and “urban fantasy” actually winning in the poll… (Even though I think the poll was a bit leading to a certain response) We are purposely picking a style that is very different from the standard urban fantasy look because the book is very fun and a fresh voice. I am not going to complain about Charlaine Harris comparisons – that’s exactly what I was thinking when I read the manuscript!

    If you are not familiar with the style, I can see you thinking bratz doll (ick) but it’s actually a style that was appropriated from adult fine art, (see Mark Ryden) and applied to those toys. However that has been an adult style for years prior to those dolls. There was conversation about covering her up, but we purposely decided not to – first, because its a very specific detail in the book, and second specifically because it IS an adult book and we don’t want anyone getting confused about that. Once it’s a printed book and obviously in the adult section with all the other very sexy urban fantasy covers, i dont think its going to be an issue. It’s NOT a book for 11 year olds. And if we had covered the character up then maybe it would have accidentally fallen into an 11-year olds hands, and that’s not something we want.

  36. Dee Dee
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:06:21

    I agree with the “sour grapes” comment. Some writers spend years trying to get published—Ms. Peeler accomplished this in record time. Not only was Orbit Books fascinated with her concept for this book, they ordered two more in a series.

    I once read somewhere to NOT judge a book by its cover. I personally find the cover intriguing and interesting, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  37. MaryK
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:07:42

    This cover wouldn’t get me to open the book. The ick factor is so strong I doubt I’d touch the book.

    About the Sookie reference – from the Orbit website:

    Here's a bit of a description blurb:

    Jane True is a twenty-something secret night swimmer and unintentional social pariah. Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane has always known she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. She just didn't know that her absent mother's legacy would give her entry into a world that included vampires, goblins and succubae.

    Jane is a immediately relatable character, and she is young, strong, and very funny. Nicole's writing is really a unique and quirky new voice in urban fantasy. Well, as “urban” as small-town Maine can be! There's much adventure, hijinks, and a hot vampire, of course. What I really enjoyed about this book was the new areas of mythology it taps -‘ selkies, kelpies, barghests … there are a lot of new mythological creatures playing part in Jane True's world, and if you're a bit of a geek about that kind of thing like I am, it's pretty cool.

    Sounds quite a bit like Sookie with selkies. If not for the cover, I’d at least pick this book up to see how similar it is to Sookie.

  38. Kathleen Smith
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:12:40

    First, I don’t know how you can make assumptions about the talent or capabilities of a writer based on the cover of a book.

    Secondly, I KNOW Nicole Peeler. She’s an exceptional writer, an excellent professor, and a smart, funny person.

    You really cannot judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge the writer by a book’s cover either.

    What I’m hearing/reading here is just sniping. Read the book when it comes out, and then pass judgment. At this point, you’re just blowing smoke.

  39. MaryK
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:14:19

    This is not a writer’s community so “sour grapes” really has no application here. There are some authors who comment but they’re already published so . . . still no application.

  40. Jane
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:18:42

    The cover of a book is hugely important to an authors’ sales. I’m surprised that anyone in publishing would disagree with that.

  41. R. Woodrick
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:27:07

    It’s kinda hard to conduct a fair poll when it is titled “WTF” If I saw this cover in the adult section of a bookstore, I would pick it up right away just because it’s different from most adult covers . . . I’m intrigued and look forward to seeing the inside of the book.

  42. theo
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:32:38

    I guess, Jane, I’m with you. I don’t know this writer, have no personal stake in this race. All I can go by is a gut reaction to this cover and to me it’s just…ewwww. A naked child with boobs? That was my first thought. Then yes, someone else mentioned it, the doe-eyed naked babies from almost 40 years ago that were all the rage. I hated that look then, don’t like it any better now.

    That said, this cover would Not get me to open this book, regardless of how intriguing the back blurb might be because my first impression is the one I’ll put the most weight on and like I said, that first impression is…


    Just Ewww.

  43. SandyW
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:40:05

    I understand the impulse that has friends of Nicole Peeler rushing to defend her, but really this is not about Ms. Peeler or the book. This is about the cover. And I have to say my first thought was that this looks like a Hot Topic version of the Spiderwick Chronicles. My second thought was that I have lots of OT (recommended for 16 and older) manga at my house; some of them came from the bookstore shrink-wrapped. Very few of them have covers quite this risqué. Or cover models this young looking.

    I like urban fantasy and, to me, very little about this says ‘urban fantasy – meant for grown-ups.'

  44. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 12:40:33

    The girl looks very young, and has glassy/shadowed eyes. I agree that the effect is disturbing. If the artist is going for a surreal look, great, but I think something could be done with her face (narrower cheeks, or wider mouth?) to make her appear more womanly. Just my two cents.

  45. Anion
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:03:04

    Wait, wait, wait. I was certainly not “rushing to defend” Ms. Peeler. I thought I made that very clear, even stating that I haven’t read her work and cannot comment on the quality or tone or anything else of it. My comment didn’t even relate to the cover. I don’t think anyone here is talking about Ms. Peeler when they talk about her cover; it never occurred to me that discussion of a cover had anything to do with the contents or the writer.

    It wasn’t even a defense of Ms. Peeler herself, so much as a general comment–which Emmy apparently was unable to read past the opening few lines of and thus didn’t understand that agreeing that people overestimate their abilities and agreeing that they do so publicly and loudly are two different things–that in the professional writing community, claiming one is a great writer is frowned upon. It looks amateurish. It looks silly. Writers who run around saying things like “I’m a great writer, I am!” leave in their wake a lot of eye-rolling and the general belief that they are untalented newbies.

    BTW, though…um, so any UF set in a small town is “based on” Sookie? Hmm. I’d never realized that before.

  46. Jessa Slade
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:22:08

    Actually, it did catch my eye. I think what would matter to me is where it’s shelved. If it was over in the urban fantasy section — with all the dark, serious, photorealistic covers — I think it would pop out and there’s a good chance I’d pick it up.

    Of course, where it’s shelved is just one more thing that’s out of the author’s control.

  47. Emmy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:23:53


    so any UF set in a small town is “based on” Sookie?

    No, but the author herself said that she was “inspired” by the books, and people who have actually read the story have said in the comments (see Lauren @ 35) above that there are many similarities to the Sookie series. Feel free to read the books yourself to compare. It’s not my genre, so I won’t be.

    Now, if anyone wants to write a m/m version, I’ll be all over it.

  48. SandyW
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:29:34


    Sorry, I wasn't referring to your comments; I understood the part about ego, etc. But the bits about ‘sour grapes' and ‘sniping' sound like they are more about defending the author than discussing the cover art. I could be wrong, of course.

    BTW, though…um, so any UF set in a small town is “based on” Sookie? Hmm. I'd never realized that before.

    Sure they are. Because one cute and quirky small town is just like any other. ;-)

  49. Alex
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:52:34

    Jane – this is what they’d call in politics a “push poll” – If you call it “WTF”, and the first option is “Kiddie Porn” – your already telling responders how to vote. It’s the equivalent of saying “Why does Politician A Hate Poor People? A) Because he’s a big old jerk B) Because he’s in a bad mood c) wait, who says he hates poor people?

    This cover is unique, and it does stand out from the crowd. It’s completely fair to point out that it makes you uncomfortable, but it’s not a surprise that you’re getting this response when you’ve already told your readers what you think.

  50. Seressia
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:56:11

    I say in all seriousness that the cover would make a great tarot card set, especially if it’s marketed to those who flocked to The Craft or The Covenant. Just a free promo idea for the author/publisher.

  51. cindy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:22:56

    i think the cover is fantastic!
    i love the color, the symbolism, the concept.
    i love that it’s not what is currently out there
    in the same genre market.

    way to be bold and different!
    congrats to nicole peeler and the people
    of orbit. i have a feeling this one will be big!

  52. joanne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:33:31

    I like the cover. I do think it will appeal to a younger crowd-older teens and adult women in their 20's, but I think that's an audience a lot of publishers like to tap into.

    Absolutely. I get that and I think you’re right. And it’s always been about getting people to pick the book off the shelf and at least think about buying it so the cover seems to serve that purpose. What I don’t understand is why a picture of a child with a woman’s body would appeal to the group you mention. It may very well be just another of it’s kind but it concerns me that it’s okay only because it’s accepted marketing and that no one questions that it’s okay. IMO

    it's not a surprise that you're getting this response when you've already told your readers what you think.

    Alex, I hope you’ll trust me sight unseen on this …. no one can tell the people who post here how to think or react …….. about anything. Really.

    Edited to add: I just noticed the WTF title for the poll. Guess it didn’t have anything to do with my opinion.

  53. Jen
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:51:47

    Joanne – I suppose the girl on the cover doesn’t look like a child to me which is why I don’t have the same reaction some of the others have. Young, sure, but not a child.

  54. rebyj
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:54:28

    it's not a surprise that you're getting this response when you've already told your readers what you think.

    Golly , good thing people tell me how to think or I’d be lost!

    If I’d never read this post, the poll etc. and I saw this book at the bookstore I’d barely give it a glance simply because nothing on it presents itself as a genre I read. I’d assume it had been placed on the wrong shelf and just move on.

    Giving it a closer look because it’s featured here at DA I stand by my comment above, it’s appears to be a disturbingly sexualized youngster which is not something I appreciate in any art form.

    I realize a lot of talent goes into cover art and I also realize that there are artistic stylizations that I’m very ignorant of. So I comment on “Will this cover intice me to buy it and read?” Nope. The cover fails to intice me to even flip it over and read the back blurb.

  55. Kathleen Smith
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:58:11

    I work in a bookstore, and, in the UF genre, this cover will totally stand out from the others.

    I think it’s a great cover. And thanks to all of this, I’m sure the book will sell millions of copies and make my friend rich!

  56. Emmy
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 15:34:26

    Thinks Jane’s next poll needs to be of authors who have multimillion unit sells because of a poll discussion here. Cuz I’m curious. Really.

  57. MaryK
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 15:39:08

    @Kathleen Smith:

    You really cannot judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge the writer by a book's cover either.

    I agree with that as an ideal, but in reality where there is very little reading time, you can judge a book by its cover. It’s the job of cover artists and marketers to show you what a book is about in a 5 second glance. My TBR pile is too big for me to waste time on book presentations that provoke a negative visceral reaction. It took many, many excellent reviews and much time before I was pursuaded to read Resenting the Hero by Moira Moore and that’s just a stupid cover not an X-rated Comic cover.

  58. theo
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 15:51:27

    It took many, many excellent reviews and much time before I was pursuaded to read Resenting the Hero by Moira Moore and that's just a stupid cover not an X-rated Comic cover.

    I would never have picked up that book to find out if it was a genre I normally read or not. I can understand why it took you so long!

    That’s just a tacky cover.

    The cover plays a huge part in what makes me pick up a new author. It’s the first thing that catches my eye. Unless I know the author, have read them before, the cover is the only enticement I have when I’m in the bookstore. There are too many reviews of too many books out there for *me* to keep track of.

    I understand that authors don’t have complete control over their covers. They can give final approval but once it goes to the printer’s, it’s out of everyone’s hands. Case in point, a dark novel recently published with a bright pink foil cover. The author was extremely upset because the cover hadn’t looked like that when she signed off on it.

    However, the author, though not responsible for that type of mistake, is still responsible to give the reader as much of a look ‘inside’ the book as possible by invoking the emotions, interest, questions, and desire to read that the cover can give the person browsing.

    Like I said, I have no idea if this author is a wonderful writer or not. But with that cover, I would never pick the book up to find out.

    Just sayin’…

  59. MaryK
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 16:18:45


    I would never have picked up that book to find out if it was a genre I normally read or not. I can understand why it took you so long!

    That's just a tacky cover.

    I had prior knowledge that the book was good. I think it was recommended by an author I really like. But every time I went to buy it, I left without it because of the cover. I finally did buy it based on recommendations that specifically said “Ignore The Cover! This is a good book!”

    Unusual is not always a positive thing.

  60. Lori
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 16:58:42

    Just my opinion but I hate that cover. It gives no indication what kind of book it is, it squicks me out a little and I wouldn’t even pick up the book to find out what it was.

    I also will admit that I’ve never bought a single book from Ellora’s Cave because their covers are just too ugly to me. Maybe I’m shallow and I might miss some good writing but that’s just me.

  61. Darlynne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 17:36:08

    … no one can tell the people who post here how to think or react …….. about anything. Really.

    Nobody tells Baby what to think. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

    I understand about push polls, but I’m with Joanne on this one. I saw the WTF, immediately checked it out, and am not offended in the least by the cover; maybe all those In Love cartoons desensitized me a long time ago. In any event, I thought manga initially, which doesn’t usually grab me, but I might be inclined to take a closer look.

    And I heart Resenting the Hero!

  62. Sally
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 17:40:27

    I really like this cover. It’s intriguing. Mind you, I collect comic books as well as books so perhaps it appeals to me on that level as well as others. I do like that the cover is not the same old. Sometimes I can’t remember if I’ve bought a book because so many of the covers look so similar. It also reminds me of Charles Addams’ drawings and the Addams family, which is a plus for me.

  63. Janine
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 18:15:22


    the more one learns about writing the more one sees one's own flaws.

    God, isn’t that the truth!


    Jane – this is what they'd call in politics a “push poll” – If you call it “WTF”, and the first option is “Kiddie Porn” – your already telling responders how to vote. It's the equivalent of saying “Why does Politician A Hate Poor People? A) Because he's a big old jerk B) Because he's in a bad mood c) wait, who says he hates poor people?

    This cover is unique, and it does stand out from the crowd. It's completely fair to point out that it makes you uncomfortable, but it's not a surprise that you're getting this response when you've already told your readers what you think.

    Not Jane, but just to make it clear, none of the polls here at Dear Author are scientific. If they were intended to be, I’d be with you. But as I see it (I’ve never discussed it with Jane so she can correct me if I’m wrong) their purpose is to generate conversation and fun/entertainment.

    To run scientific polls here at DA would mean a tremendous amount of work writing those polls, but more importantly, as anyone who has participated in a telephone survey can tell you, it is not that entertaining to have to answer a bunch of statement questions with strongly agree/somewhat agree/neither agree nor disagree/somewhat disagree/strongly disagree. Scientfic polls do have their place but our purpose here is to have fun, not to do market research.

    I think the cover is striking but I would never have guessed the book was urban fanasy. This discussion has made me somewhat interested in checking it out, or at least, visiting the author’s website to look for an excerpt. It’s probably had the same effect on some of the other readers here as well, so on the whole this poll and thread have probably done Ms. Peeler and her book more good than harm.

  64. Kate
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 19:22:20

    My main hesitancy about this cover is that for me it jarrs.

    I’m being told it’s an adult urban fantasy, so why is it being marketed to appeal to kids? Because if I saw this in passing, I would think it was kids manga or one of the many other various forms of sylized cartoons that are about. (Bratz, In Love etc)

    Perhaps I am just too jaded by many, many years of advertising, but I just can’t get past it. When I see it I think ‘kids book.’ I’m not offended by the nudity or the artwork. But I can assure the ptb that this cover WILL appeal to pre-teens and I, as a mother, would be royally pissed if my daughter (who is 12) came home reading this. And she wouldn’t think twice about scooping it up. Kinda like the tobacco companies targeting teens in their advertising or old men enticing kids with candy….. I feel it’s kinda dishonest in a way and a little sleazy.

    I’m not picking on this for the sake of bitchness or sour grapes or anything, I only offer this in the spirit of honest to goodness feedback.

    I usually love Orbit covers. Orbit UK that is. LOL

    I’m only weighing in on this cause there is nothing worse than having a series change it’s cover style halfway through a series….and if it’s semi popular it will happen. It always does.

  65. Mai
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 19:26:21

    I hated this cover when I first saw it. Having seen the enlarged version of this cover, the urban fantasy part is a bit easier to see.

    I have to say though, as a young adult who loves reading urban fantasies and follows Orbit’s website, this cover isn’t working for me. However, I think of my friends, who don’t read urban fantasy, but who are the type to like Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series or it’s spin-off tv series Tru Blood, and I think this cover will attract those types.

    When you consider it that way, this move was a pretty smart one. It’s been compared to Sookie Stackhouse and it’s been said to have a unique voice amongst all the other urban fantasy out there. The fact it’s marketed to young adults tell me that it’s not so much an urban fantasy (in the chick-in-leather kind we tend to think urban fantasy is nowadays) but rather more of a paranormal fantasy in a modern day setting.

    And let’s face it, the urban fantasy genre is still small, still defining itself. Urban fantasy lovers will seek out those new urban fantasies, and read them, regardless of the cover.

    Orbit can’t survive by appealing to the same old readers. Orbit is basically doing the same thing it’s done with Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold: attract new readers.

  66. Kimber An
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 19:43:49

    Kiddie Porn. Some people will do anything to sell a book, even play into the selfish and disgusting tastes of perverts who destroy young lives.

  67. Jane
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 19:53:27

    I actually said Kiddie Porn as a joke. On twitter, I called it Doll Porn. Yes, as Janine said, these polls aren’t scientific. I think that they are easily bypassed for multiple votes. The polls are supposed to bring up lots of topics and the opinions of the readers.

  68. Ruth
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 20:41:08

    From having spent most of my teen years, we’ll say 2000-2005, as a library page and having seen a hell of a lot of covers in that time, I’d immediately put it in the category of Manga that I find disturbing (vs. Manga that I don’t). While we didn’t put the really explicit stuff in the teen section, there was still a lot more doll-child-girl-sexuality than I felt comfortable with. And some of the ads on the back of the manga magazines were even creepier (adult women dressed up as little girls).

    Of course the cover doesn’t mean the book is at all bad, but I think a number of people have raised valid points about how a book is perceived. I like urban fantasy but if I saw this in a bookstore I wouldn’t even pick it up because it projects something else. It’s like putting a cowboy romance on the cover of a Regency novel…I might like the novel but I make some basic assumptions about genre based on the cover.

    So I think the author should tell her publisher she wants a new cover artist because she wants to reach a wider audience. Perhaps this post and comments will give her some backup. :)

  69. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 00:13:20

    So where’s she hiding her Pretty Little Pony?


    I’m three years away from my doctorate in English, but it’s gotten to the point where I’d take a great cover over a degree any day!

  70. Moth
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 01:07:29

    This cover makes me feel dirty. Ew.

  71. Anion
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 01:48:27

    Yeah…in some cases–mine, for example, because my next release is going out into the world with a cover that literally made me cry when I saw it, it’s so ugly and unreflective of my book–we can tell our editors we don’t like our cover all we want, but it makes no difference.

    The response we get is “Marketing loves it,” and that is that.

    So no, authors do not always get to “sign off on” covers or approve them. We do not have the opportunity to tell the publisher we want another cover artist–and actually have them listen to us.

  72. DS
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 06:17:30

    I thought it was literary. I didn’t automatically think Mark Ryden– his stuff is really disturbing (and intriguing)– but if I saw this on the shelf I’d pick it up to take a closer look because it is different.

  73. JulieLeto
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 10:40:36

    Lauren, if you have to explain it, it’s not working, unless you plan to stand in bookstores and explain it to readers passing by.

    But everyone has their opinion and not everyone is ever going to agree on what constitutes a great cover. If your company is behind it, then great. I hope it sells. I never want an author to suffer because of a cover, even if I personally don’t like it.

  74. Jia
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 11:32:56

    in the UF genre, this cover will totally stand out from the others.

    Sure, it’ll stand out. I don’t think anyone will argue against that. But if your average UF reader walks in, looking for a new UF novel to read… will they pick this up? That’s really the question. For all that we make fun of the tramp stamp, the faceless woman, and the leather pants on UF covers, they identify what kind of book it is to potential readers and buyers. For better or worse, certain elements signal the genre. After all, there is a reason why man titty and clinch covers continue to persist in the romance genre.

  75. Zoe Winters
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 12:46:47

    Hmmm, so yeah, the poll may be a tiny bit leading, but honestly on first glance, the tongue-in-cheek “Kiddie porn” seems apt.

    The whole issue seems to revolve not around the cartoon aspect but the girl’s head, so yeah.

    However, having heard Lauren P’s explanation of the cover, the contents sound like something I’d like to read.

    As for the cover, maybe there is a “Hot Topic shopper” lurking somewhere deep inside me, but aside from that first impression, the cover isn’t bad. Yes, maybe different than the tramp stamp, fifty weapons, uber sexy girl covers we’re used to in urban fantasy, but I’ll definitely pick this up when it comes out.

    Hopefully considering where it will be shelved (and I’m assuming bookstore people are literate and will be able to read the little label on the back that says Urban Fantasy), it will stand out enough that people take a look at it.

    Maybe it’s a little unconventional, but it may work. I’ve bought plenty of books with covers I didn’t like because I’d heard good things about the book or the writer was a friend of mine that I knew could write.

    As for not being able to get a final say on cover art from editors. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with that.

  76. Zoe Winters
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 12:53:52

    One other thought: for those saying, “Oh, poor Nicole,” if you’ll click on the book cover in this post, you’ll be taken to another article/post and if you scroll down through the comments section Nicole seems pretty ecstatic about the cover. And I don’t think she’s just “saying that for the cameras.”

    Lauren P. also takes a moment in that comment thread to explain the logic/thinking about it, and on reflection, I think it’s halfway brilliant.

    My best friend owns a comic book store, and Lauren P. is absolutely right that this kind of goth looking art is a part of already adult-themed comics. This book cover would fit right in there, and they may be able to tap into a new audience.

  77. Jane
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 21:12:05

    At the very least, the cover got everyone talking, right?

  78. Zoe Winters
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 22:10:17

    Hehe, good job, Jane! :P

    Had everyone gone silent on DA? I can’t imagine that happening. ;)

  79. Mora
    Feb 28, 2009 @ 00:57:25

    For the record, I don’t wish poor sales on Nicole Peeler or anything like that. I don’t see how my not liking the cover equals sour grapes…

    I’m part of the demographic mentioned here–young 20s, urban fantasy and comics and manga fan–and the cover just doesn’t work for me. If I saw it shelved with other urban fantasy novels, I would probably figure it was misshelved and not give it a second glance. And I’m not saying that to be mean–it’s no reflection on the book itself or Ms. Peeler. I just find the cover distasteful and possibly even bizarre, all things considered.

  80. Francesca
    Feb 28, 2009 @ 15:29:14

    “Kiddie porn”? Eh? It appears to me that someone is just trying to whip up a moral frenzy, creating a poll which puts “kiddie porn” first, and then simply invites readers to agree with her. The vast majority of respondents have fortunately seen common sense and voted accordingly.

    And who cares if it doesn’t fit in with covers that typically are seen in this genre? I have to say it’s about time a publisher and author had the courage to dare to be different! So nice to see something that isn’t corny and predictable for a change. I often read books inspite of their vacuous covers, with so many publishers ‘playing it safe’ and sticking to a proven formula, and am often pleasantly surprised! At least someone here is trying to break new ground and, as a result, I’m sure the book will attract people who, up until now, have dismissed UF because of what I believe to be poor covers that let the quality of writing down completely.

    I see nothing even vaguely ‘pornographic’ about this image. To me it just appears to be a very stylized image of a young woman, who appears less ‘sexual’ and more ‘haunted’ to me. The absence of clothes does not equal ‘sexual’. I have seen more sexually provocative images of women with all their clothing thoroughly intact! The youthful look of the girl’s face I think is consistent with a style of art/illustration that permeates both popular fine and comic art – the “big doe eyes”, etc. She looks about as sexual to me as my chihuahua! If anything she looks more vulnerable to me, rather than coquettish or sexually provocative.

    I think if nothing else it will attract attention, and will stand out from the rest, for all the right reasons! Just my humble opinion…

  81. Zoe Winters
    Feb 28, 2009 @ 16:00:19

    Hey Francesca,

    I had thought about the whole: “Just because it’s naked does that automatically mean it’s sexual, and if we think so, what does that say about our culture?” thing, but in the end I thought it would be opening a can of worms, lol. Glad to see someone else opened the can.

  82. Helen Burgess
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 09:33:10

    A cow wearing a wig is different but is it good?. This rather disturbing (to me) cover may be different from the usual dark haired young woman in leather, which is becoming a cliche – but is it the right kind of different or a WTF different. I showed the picture to my 16 year old daughter. She guessed urban fanstasy but thought it looked silly, like a comic and she does not like comics. Still it all makes for an interesting discussion

  83. DS
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 10:40:38

    Just clicked through to the page the cover is from and noticed that there was a reference to “the rest of the jacket.” Coming out in hardcover? I’ll be interested in watching this one.

  84. karmelrio
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 12:28:09

    Is this an Urban Fantasy/Precious Moments mash-up?

  85. Mora
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 14:44:06

    I’d also like to add that Shomi, Dorchester’s romance line, tried something similar with their covers–using anime-style illustrations instead of the usual type.

    And the line is gone, from what I hear. (Which is sad because those books were awesome.) Being too different from the norm can actually hurt sometimes.

    I hope that’s not the case for Ms. Peeler. Hell, I’ll probably buy her book now, just because I feel bad!

  86. Zoe Winters
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 14:50:59

    LMAO Mora! Maybe that’s the marketing plan. It’s like evil genius.

  87. Stacia
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 15:40:11

    Francesca, the art director herself said above that this was a mash-up of dolls with Mark Ryden. Ryden’s art seems to be mostly children, usually in disturbing situations with sexual and/or violent themes. (The first hit on Google Images of Ryden’s work is NSFW, but is exactly what I’m referring to.) So yes, obviously, the art was intended to convey a type of sexuality. Unless they were going for “Mark Ryden without the sex and violence”, but that seems so silly that I can’t believe that’s what they mean.

    Even if the art was intended to be influenced by Ryden’s art, I still question the validity of that choice in conjunction with the apparent subject of the book, and I question the decision that went behind deciding on deliberately using child/childlike female figures in a sexual context.

  88. Iain Coleman
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 16:37:42

    If I saw this book on the shelf, I wouldn’t pick it up. If a great review, or the author’s reputation, induced me to buy it, I would only read it in public if I could hide it inside a copy of Hustler so people wouldn’t think I was a paedophile.

  89. Stephanie Leary
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 20:27:32

    I was still gaping in horror when my husband walked up behind me, glanced at my screen, and said, “Dear God, who let Tim Burton design a Bratz doll?” Which pretty much sums it up.

    Over on the Orbit site, Lauren wrote, “I don't think the sexiness of the cover is in any way misleading once you read the story.” But the cover is an ad for the book. With that art, I’m never going to read the story. If I have to know the story before it makes sense, the cover art has failed.

  90. romsfuulynn
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 11:02:45

    It’s a creepy cover – probably less so to 50 something females because in our formative teen years the big eye female art went through an early range of popularity.

    So a clueless 50something female might not get that it was really creepy. More clued in ones who have seen more of the Japanese expression of this sort of art penetrating American culture will be squicked as will most younger people who don’t have unhealthy issues about female sexuality.

    (I’ve go not problem with the body – the face sucks.)

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