Judging Book Covers: The Headless

You may have noticed there was no guest post this week, it had to be rescheduled so I thought I would jump on the Fiction Writers Blog Hop.  May’s topic was book covers.

Now, like almost everyone, I totally judge a book by its cover.  I mean, who the hell doesn’t?  It’s (usually) the first thing you see and as mostly visual creatures we are drawn to what we like.

Fiction Writers Blog Hop. Judging Book Covers: The Headless Hero. What I hate about some book covers


Let’s not overdo it

If you add tons of bright garish colour or a truly ugly font, then I’m certainly not going to rush and buy it.  Same goes with an almost plain cover.  I need something that makes me intrigued enough to turn it over and read the blurb.

To be honest, while I do judge book covers, I usually always give a fantasy or sci-fi book enough of a chance to dazzle me by reading the blurb as well.

After all, I know traditionally published novelists don’t often get a say in the covers that can be chosen for their book.


Acceptable for Sleepy Hollow…only

However, a trend I have noticed with book covers, that I find a little creepy, is the headless bodies.

Now anyone has studied adverts knows that women are often reduced down to their body parts.  Sometimes nothing but a pair of legs or a barely dressed torso is used to flog whatever unnecessary rubbish the marketing bods are trying to convince us we desperately need.

That has always been something that annoyed me (for pretty obvious reasons) and I’ve seen similar on book covers usually on the traditionally published books.

However, more self-publishing novelists have started to use this concept and what I’ve noticed, many female writers are now using the same headless body concept but with men.

Personally, this does not make it better.  So now we have a headless body of a man, usually without a shirt and just showing an impressive array of rippling muscles.  But why no head?

Do we really need to focus solely on this singular portion of a body?  Is it the fear that the image on the cover is not exactly a likeness to the character and it will affect our reading?

I’ve read many books where the image on the front was not the one I pictured when I read the character.  You know what?  It didn’t affect the reading experience…at all.

Is there some brilliant reason for this?  Maybe I’m missing something but it just seems a little detached.

It also gives the impression of a bad photographer – I’m sure you’ve all got some family member who manages to snap a picture and cuts the head of Uncle Mortimer or crops Aunt Gertrude off leaving just her arm.

If it’s meant to be alluring, it isn’t.  If it’s meant to be sexy, it isn’t.  Please just give these models their heads back.

~ ☆ ~ ☆ ~ ☆ ~ ☆ ~

I hope you enjoyed this little ranty post. It was a little weird and just my opinion, I am sure there are loads of people who just really have a thing for headless models…. but that sounds like they might be creepy serial killers. o.O

Thanks for popping over to my little slice of the blogosphere. Return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website.

Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen

12 thoughts on “Judging Book Covers: The Headless

  1. Oh, this is so true! I understand the reason for it, however–lots of readers say they prefer to use their imagination to envision what the characters look like instead of having it dictated to them by the cover. My covers (not of my choosing) feature detailed close-ups of both my heroines and my heroes. Most of the models in the photos look absolutely NOTHING like my characters. What’s an author to do? I wish I knew!

    1. Thanks for the comment 🙂 I appreciate that covers are not always what authors want (damn you publishers *waves a fist*) but a good reader can manage to ignore the cover image. Especially if the writer paints the characters well enough. I have tons of books with characters on the front – I don’t spend ages staring at them and the image I see when I read the book isn’t anything like the cover. It has never affected my enjoyment of a book. 🙂

  2. If I was listening at a seminar I went to recently run by a publisher (one of the biggies), I believe the trend is so the reader can still use their imagination to picture the hero/heroine??????

    Another one is the photo of the back of the hero/heroine, presumably for the same reason.

    I say leave the people off completely then!

    1. Exactly, if they are that bothered they should leave them off! To me, a good writer will paint the person well enough without the cover image affecting the reader. It is sad that these publishers believe readers are so lacking in imagination that we will get swept up with some image on the cover (which we don’t exactly stare at) rather than the writing.

    1. Thank you. As I was writing it I had this weird sense I was going to get a lot of angry comments about why headless models are THE thing to have a book cover. I’m glad I’m not alone in my thoughts about this topic 🙂

  3. As far as the people on front not matching the story, sometimes it’s a matter of what the publisher wants. The authors many times don’t have a say in the matter. I try not to use heads – headless! – because I don’t want to search and search for the “right” person. What if I find one but not the other!

  4. Really enjoyed this post, Ari! And I thought these lines were especially funny: “Is there some brilliant reason for this? Maybe I’m missing something but it just seems a little detached.”

    Detached. Heads. Get it? 🙂

    And where’d you find that image? It’s perfect.

    Thanks for adding a link to the Fiction Writers Blog Hop! Always the last Wednesday of the month. Next month’s “optional” topic is bookstores. You can write about any book or writing related topic – or – write a post following that month’s optional topic (June = bookstores). So glad you’ve joined us! 🙂

    1. Thanks Julie, I enjoyed participating and will watch out for next month’s one. The image I got from depositphotos.com – when I typed in headless man I actually got an image of what I’d been talking about – shirtless, muscles, no head…but it felt wrong to use it since I was complaining about it lol – so thought this one was better :p

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