Author Topic: Objectifying females and males on covers  (Read 2796 times)  

Offline markpauloleksiw

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Objectifying females and males on covers
« on: June 23, 2020, 10:58:22 am »
Something I have been meaning to bring up...

Isn't it about time that all authors stop objectifying males and females in the cover images?  I know it sells but it doesn't make it appropriate. I get it if it has something to do with the story but, it has really gotten out of hand.

I get it, it sells. It does not make it right.

Mark




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    Offline isaacsweeney

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 11:04:57 am »
    #metoo

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #2 on: June 23, 2020, 11:11:46 am »
    I can't speak to other genres, but I have to say, in romance, covers have been trending away from objectifying shots for a few years.

    More and more "solo male" covers feature the model's face. In fact, headshots are super popular!

    Headless torsos are out.

    Faces and full-bodies are in.

    This isn't true in every niche, of course, and there are still many images cropped at the nose or neck, but if you check the top 100 you'll see what I mean. There are way more faces than there were a few years ago.

    I've never had an "abs" cover. I just don't like them. I don't really like covers with solo men on them, tbh. They bore me. I tend to use images of couples, because they're more emotionally resonant. I wouldn't consider any of those images objectifying.

    I do have a series with a solo lady on it. The first has her in a very O-face expression, so I wouldn't consider that objectifying--it is focused on her bliss, after all--but the later books in the trilogy are a bit more body crops. That is objectifying, and I won't claim it's not.

    But I will say, in the case of romance and erotica, sexuality is complicated. People want what they're told they should want. Women find crops of lingerie clad female bodies titillating because they've been told it's titillating for their entire lives.

    How much should authors challenge that... well, that is a bigger conversation. I've found most romance authors are not really open to this conversation. In general, (indie) publishing is guided by an amoral "if it sells, it sells" capitalism. People are happy to shirk responsibility and blame it all on the market.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #3 on: June 23, 2020, 11:14:05 am »
    I like the sentiment. But I suppose as ever it's the market that dictates these things. If removing the be-sixpacked hunk of man meat from the steamy romance cover, or the Lara Croft-alike from the front of an urban fantasy, causes the writer to lose sales, then the models are gonna remain in place until they stop working.

    Unfortunately, if people have to look at people, they'd rather look at pretty people. Hence why movies star Scarlet Johannson and Chris Pratt, not people that look like me.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 11:15:09 am »
    People are happy to shirk responsibility and blame it all on the market.

    Exactly.

    Online Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #5 on: June 23, 2020, 11:19:22 am »
    It is impossible to put a picture of any person on a book cover without objectifying them. By appearing on a book cover, they are objectified by definition.

    Offline Drakon

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #6 on: June 23, 2020, 12:57:38 pm »
    So what kind of covers would you like to see?

    Based on what genre?


    Diana Drakulich

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #7 on: June 23, 2020, 01:25:41 pm »
    I'm going to take a contrary view: Do we really need yet one more thing to feel guilty about?

    Many romance genres are essentially about the sexual fantasies of women. And..."so what?" is the way I look at it. If shirtless guys with six-packs is what they want, I have no desire to play the finger-wagging killjoy. Why is it "wrong", exactly?

    I think you're straw manning a bit here.

    No one is asking you to feel guilty about enjoying images of sexy people.

    We don't have to feel guilty about putting sexy people on our covers. In fact, I'd argue, that if you DO feel guilty about it, you should probably stop. That guilt is telling you something.

    But we can consider the impact of our work. And we should. Because we are the final word on the cover, title, blurb, content of our books. That's the beauty of indie publishing.

    We make choices that reflect the market--what people buy, what other authors do, what people say they want even--but we are ultimately responsible for our choices. Even if they are "what sells."

    Take responsibility!

    There's plenty of room to discuss and consider that without condemning any one thing. Or "feeling guilty."

    Offline MorrowWriter

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #8 on: June 23, 2020, 01:53:26 pm »
    Isn't the most recognisable romance cover a moody photo of a silver neck tie?  ;D

    Francis Morrow

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #9 on: June 23, 2020, 02:00:20 pm »
    Isn't the most recognisable romance cover a moody photo of a silver neck tie?  ;D

    And the suited man is adjusting it with just a hint of tattoo showing beneath his sleeve to show that he's a bit of a bad boy?

    Offline vagabond.voyager

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 03:23:01 pm »
    Something I have been meaning to bring up...

    Isn't it about time that all authors stop objectifying males and females in the cover images?  I know it sells but it doesn't make it appropriate. I get it if it has something to do with the story but, it has really gotten out of hand.

    I get it, it sells. It does not make it right.

    Mark




    By "objectifying" I gather that you are referring to focusing on sexual appeal. I also find covers with shirtless men, or women in lingerie to be offputting. I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover. I feel that the author lacks imagination and is promoting erotica over plot and character. I do not object to an appealing image of a woman, a pretty face, etc., just as long as the focus is on her, not her sexual attributes.

    Offline ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #11 on: June 23, 2020, 03:48:49 pm »
    I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover.

    I daresay you're not the target audience of such covers.
             

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #12 on: June 23, 2020, 03:59:17 pm »
    OK, go ahead and put out a book with a droll design like they did in the 1920's, and see if it sells your romance, erotica, or whatever. Good luck.

    I think there are ways to put people on a cover without completely objectifying them, but if the book is about a 'hot couple' and includes sexuality, you're going to have a cover that indicates what is inside, and a picture of a still life vase and flower or something like that isn't going to cut it.

    Are there limits? Certainly. I think every author probably has some input as to how much 'heat' they want on their covers. Maybe some of them reduce the 'heat' level, and it may cost them some sales. It's a choice they have to make.

    Offline Moe D

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #13 on: June 23, 2020, 04:55:40 pm »
    By "objectifying" I gather that you are referring to focusing on sexual appeal. I also find covers with shirtless men, or women in lingerie to be offputting. I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover. I feel that the author lacks imagination and is promoting erotica over plot and character. I do not object to an appealing image of a woman, a pretty face, etc., just as long as the focus is on her, not her sexual attributes.
    What sort of romance books do you read? What's on those covers?

    Online Jena H

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #14 on: June 23, 2020, 05:28:02 pm »
    Seems to me there's a line between "appealing to your audience" (or accurately conveying genre) and "objectifying humans."
    Jena

    Offline vagabond.voyager

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #15 on: June 23, 2020, 06:20:08 pm »
    What sort of romance books do you read? What's on those covers?
    I do not read romance books. Romance is not the only genre using such covers. Many thriller, crime, mystery, and adventure genres also use them. Look through the top one hundred, or Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and see for yourself.

    Offline Moe D

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #16 on: June 23, 2020, 07:28:36 pm »
    I do not read romance books.

    That's what I figured.

    Thanks.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #17 on: June 23, 2020, 08:05:16 pm »
    I'm not sure everyone here knows what objectifying actually means.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #18 on: June 23, 2020, 08:58:08 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    It is not only the romance genre anymore...it is creeping, pardon the expression, into the young adult genre as well.

    And the covers all kind of look alike now as well.

    Mark


    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #19 on: June 23, 2020, 09:46:31 pm »
    I'm not sure everyone here knows what objectifying actually means.
    Ee-yup. I'm so confused ...

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #20 on: June 23, 2020, 11:55:36 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    It is not only the romance genre anymore...it is creeping, pardon the expression, into the young adult genre as well.

    And the covers all kind of look alike now as well.

    Mark

    Point taken, but authors are generally in the business to sell books. I don't know how many times I've seen advice given to people here to look at the covers used in their genre, see what is popular, and do the same. It appears that readers are driving this vehicle more than authors and publishers.

    Offline SND

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #21 on: June 24, 2020, 03:28:07 am »
    The models themselves, the actual people being "objectified", don't seem to mind since they agreed to the photoshoot, signed off on the use of their image and hopefully got imbursed accordingly. If they don't mind, why should we?

    Is it damaging to the sisterhood or brotherhood in the wider general sense? I don't know. Maybe. But it's small potatoes, regardless.

    TL;DR
    I'm okay with it!  :)

    Offline Luna Alchemie

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #22 on: June 24, 2020, 04:24:37 pm »
    Romance readers are buying a fantasy. Maybe they want a hot, sexy fantasy. Is that wrong? Many think so. The cover is a shortcut to the content of the book.  Maybe they don't want a hot sexy read, maybe they want sweet, no sex at all. Those romances have their own cover clues. Romance readers have been kicked around for years and shamed for their preferences. If you read the books you would find characterization, courtship, and emotional depth tied into the hot scenes.

    Almost every movie you've ever seen had attractive leads, especially an attractive woman. Oh noes, people like sexy people, romance and sex.

    Offline ShayneRutherford

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #23 on: June 24, 2020, 08:13:27 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    Wow. That horse is really tall.
             

    Offline MaxDaemon

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    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #24 on: June 24, 2020, 10:29:10 pm »
    Wow. That horse is really tall.

    <heh>

    Humans run on food, sex and comfort. No matter how much veneer we slap over it, it comes down to those three things.

    The biggest difference between humans and animals is that animals don't have an incredible guilt complex from enjoying life.


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      Offline markpauloleksiw

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #25 on: June 25, 2020, 08:27:05 am »
      I don't mind being on "high horse" about this.

      It amazes me that 1970's thinking still prevails. A good novel is a good novel that a little creativity than come up with a cover without "objectification".

      Mark


      Online Ed Nelson

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #26 on: June 25, 2020, 08:52:55 am »
      I don't write romance and probably never will, but I will be damned if I will let the PC dictate my book covers. This is a site for authors not ideologs.

      It's all true, give or take a lie or two.
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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #27 on: June 25, 2020, 10:06:21 am »
      I don't write romance and probably never will, but I will be damned if I will let the PC dictate my book covers. This is a site for authors not ideologs.

      It's a site for those interested in indie publishing to discuss the business civilly, whatever their political persuasion.

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      Online Decon

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #28 on: June 25, 2020, 10:30:28 am »
      No one can force their sensibilities on others, other than by strict penalties under law as happens in what most in the west would call oppressive religious countries in relation to attire. Where as many in those countries would consider it the norm and not oppressive at all. In the west there is no such religous laws  in a democratic country, but community rules of minority and fringe religions, and people having choice through their own sensibilities as to how they dress.

      Romance covers merely reflect that people have ideals and desires when seeking romance. Covers are no different to the images  of those in the entertainment and the celeb industry who portray themselves in an objectified way to create a desirable image in the media for publicty. It would take laws to prevent everyone from having the freedom to wear or not wear exactly what they want.

      Censorship has no place in literature other than the rules set by publishers or distributors to protect children. .

      If it is an author's sensibility not to have such images on their covers, then go ahead and do something different. Maybe try an obese ugly person, or perhaps a plain coloured cover with just the title and see if that works. It might just work
      « Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 10:55:20 am by Decon »


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      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #29 on: June 25, 2020, 11:48:16 am »
      Objectification has little to do with whether or not a model is conventionally attractive.

      Hot model does not equal objectified cover.

      Objectification is treating a person as an object. This happens all the time with conventionally unattractive people treated as before images. How often have you seen a headless fat person as the image on a health article.

      Hot models can be presented as characters or as objects. Think of the types of images you see in profiles of male celebrities. The guys are pretty much always hot. Sometimes, they're even scantily clad, but they are never presented as body parts.

      LOTS of romance covers look like that. I'd dare say the majority of well selling romance covers in 2020 present the models as people/characters, not cropped body parts.

      I did a quick count of the erotica top 50 yesterday, and I would stick with my number, that more than half the covers didn't objectify the model. I would bet romance is the same. Especially in non-US regions, where "hot dude" covers are less the rage.

      If you want to put abs on your cover, go for it. I think your cover will look a little dated, but it might work for your niche. I don't know. But take responsibility for your choice. Don't say "the market made me do it."

      We're all limited by the market. And we can put some of the responsibility there. But we're all responsibly for our choices too.

      If other people criticize your choice, well, that's part of the job. Get over it. People will criticize all your choices, on all your books, forever.

      As for the conversation about romance, desire, what women are told they're supposed to want, and romanticizing problematic ideas--

      That is a conversation too big and subtle for Kboards. I'd make the same general argument--take responsibility for your personal choices, without shaming yourself or anyone else--but I don't really trust the people here (or anyone outside of romance) to understand the nuances.

      Offline markpauloleksiw

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #30 on: June 25, 2020, 11:48:27 am »
      I am just challenging authors to be more creative and get out of the 70's mindset. My real concern was seeing this show up on teen and young adult books.

      There is a fear of change...that the readers will suddenly stop...maybe you would attract more readers. Food for thought.

      Mark

      Offline Corvid

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #31 on: June 25, 2020, 12:30:00 pm »
      Caring about this reads as performative.


      Offline Nick G

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #32 on: June 25, 2020, 02:02:34 pm »
      I don't write romance and probably never will, but I will be damned if I will let the PC dictate my book covers. This is a site for authors not ideologs.

      Vendors determine what covers are suitable, not other writers.

      There is a fear of change...that the readers will suddenly stop...maybe you would attract more readers. Food for thought.

      Are they afraid, or are they informed of what works in their genre?

      I think I read an article years back that explained peoples' eyes are drawn to other people for evolutionary reasons/survival instinct. I don't feel like I'm assessing risk when I peruse bookshelves at Barnes and Noble but I'm not a scientist. ;D
      « Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 02:53:47 pm by Nick G »

      Online Dpock

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #33 on: June 25, 2020, 03:38:12 pm »

      Hot model does not equal objectified cover.

      I agree.

      "Objectification", a concept originally promulgated by 60s era feminists concerned foremost the treatment of women--you know, in real life, one-on-one and socially, at home or in the workplace, in legislation and beyond. Their message was women weren't mere "objects" to be used by men as they pleased. I'm sure we all agree (now. Watch Madmen if you doubt this was ever the case). Women should not be treated as objects or placeholders in this sense (of objectification).

      I don't think using attractive women or men on romance or magazine covers is a case of objectification. It's just marketing.


      Offline jb1111

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #34 on: June 25, 2020, 06:23:39 pm »
      "1970's thinking" doesn't prevail. In the 1970's most romance covers were probably illustrated, and showed less skin than they did even a decade ago. Same for most erotica -- back then they were illustrated pulp covers, basically. And as Dpock mentions, the term "objectification" is a product of the women's movement, which started in the early 60's and got a lot of traction in the 1970's. Also, a lot of erotica was banned in the 70's in various jurisdictions. The 70's were a more puritanical decade than the present one.

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #35 on: June 25, 2020, 07:18:04 pm »
      Protect the children. That seems to be the cry of those who want to impose their thinking on society. I don't write romance and use those sort of covers but I'm willing to let the market place sort it out. In the meantime this PC stuff is of no use on this board.

      It's all true, give or take a lie or two.
      Ed nelson

      Offline markpauloleksiw

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #36 on: June 25, 2020, 08:40:06 pm »
      I did not refer to a specific genre. Actually, the worst offenders were the infamous bookstuffers in kindle unlimited.

      Most erotica has extremely subtle but brilliant covers.

      The point is that there are a bunch of authors (maybe the same with different pen names) who seem to be using eerily similar cover images which seem ill suited for their genre.

      Mark

      Offline ShayneRutherford

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #37 on: June 26, 2020, 01:13:23 am »
      I am just challenging authors to be more creative and get out of the 70's mindset. My real concern was seeing this show up on teen and young adult books.

      There is a fear of change...that the readers will suddenly stop...maybe you would attract more readers. Food for thought.

      Mark
      Generally speaking, authors who get too creative with their covers wind up back here six months later wondering why their books arent selling. If one wants to make a living from ones writing, its usually best to have a cover that fits the conventions of the genre.
               

      Offline jb1111

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #38 on: June 26, 2020, 06:18:59 am »
      I did not refer to a specific genre. Actually, the worst offenders were the infamous bookstuffers in kindle unlimited.

      Most erotica has extremely subtle but brilliant covers.

      The point is that there are a bunch of authors (maybe the same with different pen names) who seem to be using eerily similar cover images which seem ill suited for their genre.

      Mark

      I think most of us here, at times, probably have been in agreement with you on the bigger issue. There are authors and publishers out there who probably go a little over the top with their presentation and covers -- almost blatant, in some cases.

      Most of us who are in the genres that have women and men on the cover probably moderate it to our own comfort levels, while still trying to roughly match what is expected in the genre.

      It's like walking a tightrope. Hopefully, if one doesn't have a cover that's over the top, the actual content of the book will make up for the cover.

      Offline Rick Gualtieri

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #39 on: June 26, 2020, 08:10:56 am »
      And the covers all kind of look alike now as well.


      That's a whole different issue right there.  Only so many stock photos to go around, and not everyone invests in having multiple stock images "frankensteined" (my cover artist's term for it), so that it looks unique.  Hence why a lot of covers tend to look the same.

      Also, people tend to ape ... say it with me ... what sells.


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      Offline Rick Gualtieri

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #40 on: June 26, 2020, 08:13:17 am »
      Generally speaking, authors who get too creative with their covers wind up back here six months later wondering why their books arent selling. If one wants to make a living from ones writing, its usually best to have a cover that fits the conventions of the genre.

      True. Some can definitely succeed stepping out of a genre's normal lane with regards to design, but in a lot of cases the holy grail is unique enough to stand out, but familiar enough to be recognized for what it is.


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      Offline E.B. Roshan

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #41 on: June 26, 2020, 09:55:57 am »
      Generally speaking, authors who get too creative with their covers wind up back here six months later wondering why their books arent selling. If one wants to make a living from ones writing, its usually best to have a cover that fits the conventions of the genre.

      Too true! :D

      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #42 on: June 26, 2020, 10:00:58 am »
      I don't know of any genre where the only popular cover convention is one that objectifies models. Maybe that is the case in certain niches, LitRPG or lactation erotica, but it's rare.

      Popular romance  and erom cover concepts:
      Sweet couples
      Sensual couples (some crops are objectifying)
      O-face woman
      Emotional woman
      Lingerie crop woman (objectifying)
      Man - headshot
      Man - full body
      Man - torso crop (objectifying)
      Small town/beach landscape
      Typography
      Object
      Illustrated characters
      Illustrated single character

      People are really talking out of turn when it comes to romance covers. Look at the top 100. It isn't flush with headless torsos. That type of cover is dated, though it's more 2017 than 1970.

      Offline Luna Alchemie

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #43 on: June 26, 2020, 11:50:20 am »
      In some scifi romance and paranormal romance the head crop hero is to show an alien without paying many bucks to photo manip a human/cat face or what have you, or buying commissioned art.

      Offline Nick G

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #44 on: June 26, 2020, 06:28:54 pm »
      People are really talking out of turn when it comes to romance covers. Look at the top 100. It isn't flush with headless torsos. That type of cover is dated, though it's more 2017 than 1970.

      If it's not about sub-genre, could it be that the choice has more to do with financial standing rather than a moral one? Top 100 authors are probably more likely to make enough money to purchase exclusive stock featuring fresh faces, whereas writer's with less ROI do what they can to avoid people noticing they're reusing the same limited supply of stock photos.

      Found these examples poking around Amazon for 10 minutes...













      Several of which were published in the last week.

      Whichever way you look at it, I'm surprised people see this as a moral failing. I always thought these images were communicating to the customer about content, much like content warnings before a TV show. I've read several books that weren't what I expected because of the cover. Sometimes it's a pleasant surprise, sometimes it's aggravating. Either way, I give authors the benefit of the doubt here and always assumed the cropping of faces was to allow readers to imagine what they prefer if not because they're using a well circulated stock.

      Offline RBC

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #45 on: June 27, 2020, 07:48:00 am »
      I'm not sure everyone here knows what objectifying actually means.

      Bang on!

      I'm quite tired of cliche abs/chest on Romance and leather-wearing female on UF covers myself. But is that objectifying, necessarily?

      Saying sexy people shouldn't be on cover can also be construed as saying sexy people can't be smart, capable bad*sses etc. Just because a sexy female is on a UF cover, doesn't mean she's an airhead bimbo, I'd think. Why couldn't a smart, capable woman be also sexy? So in that case, why not have sexy people on. They aren't necessarily just selling sex appeal. Maybe they're selling 'idealized' version of a person.


      Other 'angle' to look from, what do authors need to write about? Would readers want to read a book about a beer-belly, out-of-shape, and lazy guy being the main romantic attraction? Not only that doesn't look great on the cover, that doesn't really make readers enjoy the fantasy they want to buy. So if there are no such stories, there will be no such covers.

      In self-pub, if tomorrow new trend was to have beer-bellies on the covers and they would sell those books, there would be many designers providing those covers. The demand has to be there first. Designers will adjust. Will readers and stories tho? That's the question.

      And there are some covers showing different kinds of people on the covers. Slowly more ''bigger models'', POC and LGBT covers are coming in too. I think situation is getting better, but really really slowly.

      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #46 on: June 27, 2020, 10:29:12 am »
      There are plenty of covers featuring the faces or entire bodies of stock models.

      I agree it's easier for authors who sell more to pay for custom images, but I'm not sure that leads those authors to showing more faces. Probably, but I see plenty of custom shots cropped at the nose, and plenty of full body stock photos, so I'd need to run the numbers to really say.

      Offline Nick G

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        • Griffin and Gambol
      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #47 on: June 27, 2020, 03:05:42 pm »
      There are, and that's my preference personally, I just wonder if it's outdated or just a matter of taste or budget.

      Offline Crystal_

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #48 on: June 29, 2020, 03:38:44 pm »
      There are, and that's my preference personally, I just wonder if it's outdated or just a matter of taste or budget.

      Well, I do think authors are much more obsessed with custom/unique images than readers. I'm not sure readers really notice.

      Custom images are becoming more common, even among authors who are really stretching their budget to afford a custom photo. I think it's an ego/keeping up with the Joneses thing as much as a marketing thing. And an ad thing.

      AMS will approve pretty much any male torso, so long as the guy is not removing his clothing (pulling down jeans is most common)... now. But this is a relatively recent change, in the span of AMS. It's only in the last two years or so it allowed shirtless dudes.

      AMS not approve an o-face or couples who are embracing. I'm not sure where the line is with couples, but I know you're SOL with a horizontal couple, and a vertical one better not be too sexy.

      Facebook will not allow images of ab crops, because they don't allow objectification, but you can often get around that by uploading an image with a face and cropping it in ad manager.

      I'll also add: this is a US thing! Look at the UK charts in romance. There are way, way, way fewer shots of guys, period, and almost no body crops.

      A lot of authors overlook the UK, because the ceiling is lower, but it's a different audience, with different tastes. I'm glad other authors ignore the UK, because that makes advertising less competitive. I like object covers better anyway. It's much easier to write diverse characters (or just characters who don't fit into standard stock photo looks: women with short hair, women with tattoos, women with unusually colored hair, women who are not very slim, women who dress in a way that isn't "cute" or "sexy," etc) when you don't need to find a photograph.

      Offline isaacsweeney

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      Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
      « Reply #49 on: June 29, 2020, 08:50:11 pm »
       
      Objectification has little to do with whether or not a model is conventionally attractive.

      Hot model does not equal objectified cover.

      Objectification is treating a person as an object. This happens all the time with conventionally unattractive people treated as before images. How often have you seen a headless fat person as the image on a health article.

      Hot models can be presented as characters or as objects. Think of the types of images you see in profiles of male celebrities. The guys are pretty much always hot. Sometimes, they're even scantily clad, but they are never presented as body parts.

      LOTS of romance covers look like that. I'd dare say the majority of well selling romance covers in 2020 present the models as people/characters, not cropped body parts.

      I did a quick count of the erotica top 50 yesterday, and I would stick with my number, that more than half the covers didn't objectify the model. I would bet romance is the same. Especially in non-US regions, where "hot dude" covers are less the rage.

      If you want to put abs on your cover, go for it. I think your cover will look a little dated, but it might work for your niche. I don't know. But take responsibility for your choice. Don't say "the market made me do it."

      We're all limited by the market. And we can put some of the responsibility there. But we're all responsibly for our choices too.

      If other people criticize your choice, well, that's part of the job. Get over it. People will criticize all your choices, on all your books, forever.

      As for the conversation about romance, desire, what women are told they're supposed to want, and romanticizing problematic ideas--

      That is a conversation too big and subtle for Kboards. I'd make the same general argument--take responsibility for your personal choices, without shaming yourself or anyone else--but I don't really trust the people here (or anyone outside of romance) to understand the nuances.

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        Offline Nick G

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          • Griffin and Gambol
        Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
        « Reply #50 on: July 02, 2020, 02:54:17 pm »
        Well, I do think authors are much more obsessed with custom/unique images than readers. I'm not sure readers really notice.

        Custom images are becoming more common, even among authors who are really stretching their budget to afford a custom photo. I think it's an ego/keeping up with the Joneses thing as much as a marketing thing. And an ad thing.

        AMS will approve pretty much any male torso, so long as the guy is not removing his clothing (pulling down jeans is most common)... now. But this is a relatively recent change, in the span of AMS. It's only in the last two years or so it allowed shirtless dudes.

        AMS not approve an o-face or couples who are embracing. I'm not sure where the line is with couples, but I know you're SOL with a horizontal couple, and a vertical one better not be too sexy.

        Facebook will not allow images of ab crops, because they don't allow objectification, but you can often get around that by uploading an image with a face and cropping it in ad manager.

        I'll also add: this is a US thing! Look at the UK charts in romance. There are way, way, way fewer shots of guys, period, and almost no body crops.

        A lot of authors overlook the UK, because the ceiling is lower, but it's a different audience, with different tastes. I'm glad other authors ignore the UK, because that makes advertising less competitive. I like object covers better anyway. It's much easier to write diverse characters (or just characters who don't fit into standard stock photo looks: women with short hair, women with tattoos, women with unusually colored hair, women who are not very slim, women who dress in a way that isn't "cute" or "sexy," etc) when you don't need to find a photograph.

        Crystal, that's helpful information. I missed quite a few memos over the past two years. Thank you for the reply.

        I'm going to go check out the UK charts. When foreign rights for books I love get sold I've noticed covers intended for different regions have very different looks. What works in Germany looks very different than here in the US for the same title. It's going to be interesting to look into that a bit more.

        The US is strange with where it draws the lines sometimes. Some of what you've highlighted makes no sense to me, but Amazon must mirror their buyers and what they complain about. I just can't imagine someone pearl clutching about a horizontal fully-clothed couple when there's skin all around, but neither bother me so that must be why I don't get it.

        Do you know if indie publishers can have different covers for different regions? Or do you find that your object covers that appeal heavily in the UK also do well here, so it's a win win?

        When it comes to something as personal as romance, I really appreciate as a reader being able to fill in a lot of the blanks, so I get the appeal of object covers, but I never thought about it as a fix for diverse characters, and that is a problem with readily available stocks, the lack of diversity that is.

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