Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Like Hate Love

The new trade edition of Sweetblood went on sale last week, triggering conflicting pleasure/pain receptors in my hippocampus which, you should know, has nothing to do with higher education for semiaquatic ungulates. The cover of the new edition features candy-colored lips and pointy teeth against a deep purple background. It looks delicious. I like it. I hate it. I like it. I hate it. I like it. Somebody stop me, please!
Thank you!
Some history: The first edition of Sweetblood,
way back in 2003 when there were only a gajillion vampire novels (as opposed to today's kahunkabazillion), was a graphic designy image of a twenty-something woman with tasteful blood spatters across the cover and the tagline "A Vampire Novel." It was an okay cover, although I thought the tagline to be slightly deceptive inasmuch as there are no "real" vampires to be found in the book. Still, it was about vampires. Sort of.
Anyway, I figured as long as the cover encouraged more people to look at the book, it was okay. I liked it. I sort of didn't like it. It was a book cover. Whatever.
A couple of years later, the book was issued in small format paperback, and the designers took a different tack: this time, they used a photograph of a young model who perfectly represented the character I had in mind when I wrote the book. It suggested a goth-like, vampire-ish story about a character, and I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, despite the clunky typography. How often does that happen? Hardly ever.
Back to the new cover and the love/hate thing. From an author's point of view, there are three things a book cover should do:
1. It should look good.
2. It should sell the book.
3. It should be true to the book.
The new Sweetblood cover, IMHO, easily meets condition #1. It looks stupendously lickable. I think it will accomplish #2 as well - at least I hope so. As for #3...I dunno. I think most people who buy the book based on the cover will be expecting fangs and blood. Some of them will be disappointed.
I think the neck-biting promise made by the cover takes away from the story. Imagine yourself sitting down to watch, say, "Eat Pray Love" after being told it was a movie about carnivorous alien invaders. The whole time, you'd be looking for flying saucers and waiting for Javier Bardem's lips to peel back and reveal an extra set of jaws. Kind of distracting.
On the other hand, being told that "Eat Pray Love" was about an alien invasion is probably the only way I'd ever pay to see it.
Like. Hate. Love.


Chris said...

Sweetblood was the first I had ever heard of Pete Hautman and I read the version with the 2003 cover. I am sure the cover caught my eye and induced me to read it. I have since read the entire Hautman catalogue and introduced my daughter to your books, which was a tall order since she was not a reader. I prefer the second cover, and agree that the model resembles the character perfectly. The most recent cover looks like Christopher Moore book and thus would not attract this reader to pick up Sweetblood, but I don't think it will hurt your readership any, either. Anyone who finds you should love you and if they don't, they are wrong. :) or, :-E

Pete Hautman said...

Chris, Thank you! But...I've been trying to figure out your emoticon :-E A three-fanged vampire? A rabbi?

Chris said...

a rabbi?! love it, but it is SUPPOSED to be a fanged vampire.

Maybe :-[ is better.


Holly said...

Hi. I love ur books, Mr. Hautman! My fav probably would be No Limit, but i als love Godless and Invisible. We did a project in English class and my friend and I chose you as out author because we thought your books sounded interesting and we were right!