It’s time to dip into the A. Lee Martinez Action Force mailbag once again.  If you have a question, comment, or compliment you want to send my way, you can e-mail me at HIPSTERCTHULHU@HOTMAIL.COM.  All e-mails will be read, and some will even be responded to if you’re very, very lucky.  Or if I’m really bored, which happens more than you might imagine.

Charlie asks:
I was perusing your author page on and noticed the huge differences in the covers of your books between the English and German editions.  This got me to thinking that, as author’s have little control over cover art what your thoughts were about the covers to your various books (in any language).  Any favorites, pleasant surprises?  Unpleasant surprises?
You’re right, Charlie.  As a writer, I don’t have much control over what my covers look like.  Nor do I believe I really should have much control.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from checking out self-published book covers, it’s that cover design is a specific skillset.  Just because you wrote a book that doesn’t mean you know the best way to package or market that book.  After a decade in this job, I can say I don’t really “get” cover design.  I don’t get what people like.  I don’t get why they like it.  And I don’t know what catches people’s eye.
Something like the cover for Monster, with its bright yellow tone, is bound to draw a passing person’s attention.  Bright colors stand out.  Not terribly complicated or difficult to understand.  But if it was simple as that, every cover would be a single bright color, and then the cover that wasn’t would be the one to draw attention.  So a good cover should stand out from the crowd, but the crowd will naturally gravitate toward successful covers, making it a constantly evolving process.
Just take a look at your favorite genre.  You will see a heck of a lot of copycatting going on.  Part of this is necessity.  If you want people to realize your book is like other popular books, brand it in a similar manner by imitating the cover.  That’s why there are so many urban fantasy novels with kickass sexy heroines posed on the cover artIt becomes a cliche, but it also works.  Until it doesn’t work.  Every acceptable cover choice eventually becomes undesirable through imitation.
Fantasy fiction covers were once filled with dragons and bare-chested barbarians.  Now putting those things on the cover is the surest way to not be taken seriously.  Strangely, romance fiction is one of the strongest genres, and it revels in its cliches.  Perhaps originality is overrated.  Perhaps the best thing to do is to find what works and sticks with it.
But you’re question is How do I feel about my covers?
Those feelings are mixed.  Some I love.  Others I find bland.  I don’t hate many of the covers, but there are some I’m not a fan of.
My chief complaint with most of my covers is that they don’t have a lot to do with what’s actually going on in the book.  Especially once I moved to Orbit, who decided (not without good reason) to try and market me alongside Christopher Moore.  If you put an A. Lee Martinez cover beside a Christopher Moore cover, you’ll see the Moore influence.  I’m not a huge fan of these types of covers as they all seem a bit bland to me.  But then again, that’s the style that seems prevalent at the time.  It’s minimalist, and it seems to work for a lot of people.  It isn’t always bad.  I love the covers  for Chasing the Moon and Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest, both of which use minimalistic art to good effect.  Regardless, it’s the way covers are now, and I’m fine with that.
But I almost always prefer the German covers.  They tend to have more life to them.  Even when they have nothing to do with the book (A Nameless Witch), they’re still energetic and colorful.  I don’t know enough about the German market to say if that’s the general style, and I don’t have much to compare them to, but they’re just more eyecatching to me.  They’re full of personality.  My American covers can’t compete in that category.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about covers.  I don’t control them, and I don’t want to control them.  At this stage, I’m not usually surprised because I don’t give it enough thought to be surprised, one way or the other.  I trust the publisher’s marketing and art department to know what they’re doing, and I’m not going to second guess them.  But since you asked:
The Automatic Detective is hands down my favorite cover of all because it manages to capture the feeling and style of the book so well.  One glance tells you that it’s a retro sci fi crime noir tale.  It’s also a solid piece of art in itself, and one I’d be happy to hang on my wall.
In the Company of Ogres wins this one easily.  I just don’t like much about this one.  It’s bland, dull, and the ogre on the cover looks nothing like I imagined my ogres to be.  He’s also not doing anything interesting on the cover.  Just standing there like a lump.
The first printing of the hardcover of Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain had the tagline “With great power, comes great hilarity”, and I hated that.  I hated it because I don’t like being labeled a funny writer (though I know that’s a battle I lost long ago).  I hated it because it promises not just a funny book, but a hilarious book.  That’s a tall order.  And I hated it because it’s not even the right use of the phrase because Emperor Mollusk has nothing in common with Spider-Man.  Later printings corrected it to “He lives, He Squirms, He Conquers” and I’m much happier with that.
Chasing the Moon depicts some tentacles sweeping up to eat the moon.  When writing the story, I imagined something similar.  In my head, there wasn’t a fork, but instead a bite taken out of the moon.  This cover (one of my favorites) was pretty much everything I expected.
Probably goes to In the Company of Ogres again because I really liked the cover on my first novel, Gil’s All Fright Diner.  I wasn’t expecting to.  So when the Ogres cover came along, I wasn’t ready for how disappointed I was with it.
This is a tricky one.  The Italian language edition of Gil’s All Fright Diner has an eye staring back at the view and could easily be mistaken for a straight up horror novel cover.  But the Russian version of Gil’s is a touch weirder.  It has a cowboy on it.  Probably makes sense when a Russian audience thinks of the American Southwest, but still a little odd.
(Oh, and just for the record, Gil’s doesn’t take place in any specific state, but it’s far more likely to be set in Arizona than Texas.  Just FYI.)
Thanks for the question, Charlie.  If you have a question for the Action Force Clubhouse, send ’em my way.  You know where to find me.
Keelah Se’lai
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,
This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Insa
    Posted May 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    German Monster was the first of your books I ever picked up – mostly because the cover intrigued me. So I would say at that time it was unusual. The market changed over time though and I don’t think it would stick out much between similar covers anymore. Unless someone puts them up on special places where they have to get noticed *cough*

  2. Posted May 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    After I got back from dfwcon, my son asked me what my cover will look like. Sweet kid, extremely optimistic! I told him I’d have no control, but humored him with the idea I had in mind. Yeah, I thought about it. I love covers.
    Idk, I like the American version of EMPEROR more than the German one.

  3. theBibliomancer
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    The bright yellow is the exact reason I picked up Monster actually! That and the skull on the spine. Read it, liked it, came back for more.

    Same thing with another one of my favorite books, Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, which had a light blue cover that you don’t usually see on that bookshelf.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • копирайтинг
  • SEO копирайтинг
  • копирайтер
  • копирайтеры
  • рерайт
  • рекламная кампания
  • обслуживание сайта
  • биржи статей
  • пресс-релизы
  • статьи для сайта
  • новости для сайта
  • коммерческое предложение
  • продающий текст
  • слоган
  • нейминг
  • Website Design & Wordpress Template by A.J. Roberts