Author Topic: Objectifying females and males on covers  (Read 2810 times)  

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


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    Offline 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.

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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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    Offline 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 »

    Offline 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.

    Offline Ed Nelson

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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.
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    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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    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.

    Online 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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