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Nathan Shumate Looks at Lousy Book Covers

Monday, January 28th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Goat SuckingIt’s a lot easier to publish a book than it used to be.

So easy in fact that people are doing it themselves. They’re doing away with traditional print and distribution, all the hassle of finding an agent, publishing contracts, and 20th Century promotional models entirely.

Unfortunately, in the process many of them are also getting rid of things they probably shouldn’t. Things like book design, and cover art. And marketing.

Or even proof-reading. I mean, who needs that, right?

Sadly, the result is that some good books are getting buried under terrible cover art, or painfully sub-standard art design. Nathan Shumate has made it his mission to showcase daily examples at his blog, Lousy Book Covers. Today’s poster child, Dixon Heurass’s Goat Suckin’, is sub-titled “Hotter Than It Sounds” (as Nathan dryly observes, “It would have to be, wouldn’t it?”)

Check out the many additional examples at Nathan’s blog to see just how many different ways there are to screw up cover art, or totally obscure passable art with poor title placement and font color.

We last discussed Nathan Shumate on the publication of his delightful experiment in communal self-publishing, Space Eldritch (which has a thoroughly excellent cover, incidentally).

10 Comments »

  1. In that cover’s defense, that is one photogenic goat. Looks like he’s got a wry, devil-may-care smirk. That is the Johnny Depp of goats, my friend, which explains why he’s next to the beautiful woman in the bikini.

    Comment by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones - January 28, 2013 5:49 pm

  2. Too true! But how can you tell the woman in the photo is beautiful WHEN SHE DOESN’T HAVE A HEAD? Or shoulder, even. Or knees.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 28, 2013 6:18 pm

  3. Wait a second, that’s assuredly a pen name. Though to be fair, if my last name were “Heurass”, I would indeed be tempted–though would not succumb–to naming one of my children “Dixon”.

    Comment by awsnyde - January 28, 2013 11:41 pm

  4. I almost cross-posted Shumate’s website on Facebook…then couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just can’t be responsible for the flaming eyesockets that will certainly follow.

    Comment by Jason 'RBE' Waltz - January 29, 2013 12:03 am

  5. Love the link!
    Yeah, self-publishing or no, cheaper than ever or no, the monopoly of distribution not as all-reaching as before, or no… The lesson here is if you are actually publishing your own book, and can’t do art, well look up Deviant Art and pay someone halfway able to. Consumer end 3d software + paint image filters… Talk to an SCA friend, photo some poses, do basic PS lite stuff…

    Think of the poor bloggers who get beat up by the “PC Mafia” (look down the page a little) when your art inspires them to make a remark about “Robots fighting Retards”… IMO “Death, Death, DEATH to P.C.!!!”

    To be fair, on the “Professional” end there’s horrible stuff made by actual pro studios where they either have a communication breakdown with the artist, or there’s something gathering dust in the archives needing a cover or the publisher is trying to cater to this or that and has no idea what this or that is….

    Here’s a blog devoted to this!
    http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk

    Bad professional book covers, mostly fodder from the 70s-90s…

    Comment by GreenGestalt - January 29, 2013 12:48 am

  6. > Wait a second, that’s assuredly a pen name.

    Awsnyde,

    Way to complicate things. Thinking there were people out there named “Dixon Heurass” is the only thing that made the whole Lousy Book Cover phenomenon comprehensible.

    For the record, Dixon has a website where he promotes his books (two, so far) here:

    http://about.me/dixonheurass

    Dixon, if you’re reading this, we apologize for mocking your name. We don’t mean to be cruel; it’s just part of the job description.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 29, 2013 5:18 pm

  7. > I almost cross-posted Shumate’s website on Facebook…then couldn’t bring myself to do it.
    > I just can’t be responsible for the flaming eyesockets that will certainly follow.

    Jason,

    I sat on this one for a while myself. Some of the artwork looked like a father giving in to the pleas of a 5-year-old daughter, and using her water-color as his book cover. We mock that at our peril.

    In the case of GOAT SUCKIN’, however, if that’s Dixon’s daughter on the cover (or his goat), she’s old enough to know better.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 29, 2013 5:22 pm

  8. But how can you tell the woman in the photo is beautiful WHEN SHE DOESN’T HAVE A HEAD? Or shoulder, even. Or knees.

    A good point, but if you were the lady in question, what could possibly induce you to allow your face to appear on the cover of a book with that title?

    Comment by Sarah Avery - January 30, 2013 11:39 pm

  9. > what could possibly induce you to allow your face to appear on the cover of a book with that title?

    Well said. Pity the goat didn’t have the same choice.

    If you see a goat on a beach hanging its head, now you know why.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 31, 2013 3:22 pm

  10. […] Nathan Shumate looks at Lousy Book Covers […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Blog Posts in January - March 1, 2013 1:25 pm


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