August 31, 2015

Opinion vs. Attack — Where's the Line?

I came across a post last week that really rubbed me the wrong way in a world where we claim to fight for positive (healthy) body image and against bullying. While I agree with half of this post's point, rather than sticking to the real issue (lack of variety in models used on book covers), the author targeted one model specifically:

Image used in original post
"I mean, how many book covers have you seen this guy on? No less than fifty for me, and he's not even good looking! ... People, please stop wasting your image credits on him! He's UGLY and overused! Save your money! 
...I really do think this guy is butt ass ugly. I will not read any book with his face on it. All those beautiful men on Shutterstock and you choose HIM? *gags*"

Yes, people are entitled to their opinions. Yes, the author may in fact think that the model is ugly, fine. But what the author of this post is doing, rather than making a general point about the overuse of certain models and possibly the laziness of some authors/designers when searching for images to use, is attacking this one model's livelihood and personally insulting him.

Same model
Sure, as authors we hear negative opinions all the time, but we as a community tend to recognize that personally attacking the author—as opposed to criticizing a book/story—isn't acceptable. "This author has such an ugly profile photo, we should all stop buying his/her books!" would, I hope, be seen as absurd.

As commenter Rainy Kaye said:
"This article is really unprofessional. Discussing an industry issue is one thing; blatantly insulting someone's looks is another."

In addition to being disconcerting and plain mean, I feel the choice the author made to target one specific model detracts from the valid point hiding in this post. We should absolutely make an effort to find unique cover models and images, whenever possible. And perhaps more importantly, we should strive to represent different looks among our characters so that we couldn't use the same model for so many covers.

But simultaneously, we shouldn't go around attacking people who are just doing their jobs. It's not the model's fault he's so popular among writers and cover designers—that simply means he and the photographers have done a good job providing the types of shots people want to use! It's on us to strive for a unique cover, not on the model to stop posing. And either way, it's completely inappropriate to campaign against using one person's services based on a personal opinion of his looks.

What say you? Is the linked post nothing more than one person's opinion? Or should the author have avoided targeting one model when making this point?

One more. My opinion? Not what I'd call ugly!


  1. Great post Aria. I just think men with abs is so overused. Come on authors, show me something that makes me want to pick up the book. They must be making sales, though, to keep doing it. I know I have missed some great books, because a lot of times I don't look past the abs. They just don't work for me. :-( Glad to know, Aria, that you are one of those authors that wants your covers to stand apart, not blend in. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. I think the cover being a shirtless man shows you exactly what the book is primarily about, and in my own books, I focus on the characters, not the physicality. But another thing to keep in mind is that non-indie authors often have very little input on the cover art if any. (I hate the cover for my first book, to be honest.) So it's really unfortunate when someone else's decision on cover art means readers won't pick up the book at all.

      Though I do still think everyone involved in creating cover art should strive for originality that genuinely reflects the contents of the book!

  2. I'm pretty sure I have that guy in my book trailer - and I looove him. Obviously a lot of people must. The author of that post is just plain rude and juvenile.

    I have trouble connecting with what's insanely popular in the romance book world, so I personally prefer different-looking covers, but a look through top selling books in the various romance subgenres shows that readers seem to be drawn to same, same same.

    1. That's so funny about your trailer! I think sometimes similarity allows for easy decisions; readers look at the cover and know exactly what they're going to get. If something similar or familiar is what they want, then it works.

      Being original or unique can be a risk that way, though I agree with you about not really connecting with romance cover cliches like the floating heads (what is that?!) or the naked couple.