I saw a fashion blog headline the other day that just made me laugh. I don’t have it anymore, but I can paraphrase it:
Ten Essential Must-Buys for Your Fall 2016 Wardrobe!
Sounds perfectly normal — you see headlines like this all the time.
The things that struck me as hilarious were:
- That I have a wardrobe at all.
- That I divide my wardrobe into the four seasons.
- That I actually buy for each season in its turn.
- That even if I was suddenly struck with an urge to look fashionable this fall, that I would want to acquire ten new items!
Really, though, it was the attitude underneath it all, that implies that buying multiple fashion items every single season is something that “normal” women do, that really squeezed out the tears for me.
I am so not a normal woman, if this is the measure!
Fashion, though, isn’t just a thing with clothes.
Look at your cellphone, as an example. If you’re using a big screen smartphone, then you’re a victim of fashion marketing. You could be using a slide phone or a flip phone, or even one of the dinky smartphones of a year ago, and have a phone that works perfectly well.
It’s not necessarily a negative thing to be swayed by fashionable preferences, especially when it comes to technology. Less trendy devices sometimes have connectivity and synchronization issues, and a dearth of technical support when you get in trouble, because there just isn’t enough of them to justify providing the apps, support, etc.
But this trending thing is invasive and influences far more than just your choice in leggings or cellphones.
It also affects how you chose your fiction. Yep, it does…because of the covers.
Readers are influenced by a cover into picking up or ignoring a book. Even if the book is absolutely perfect for your tastes, if the cover doesn’t tweak your interest, you’ll never know, because you’ll have moved on to something else.
That seems pretty straightforward.
Here’s where fashion impacts
There are trends in cover designs that affect your selection of books. If you’re a long time romance reader, you can probably name some of the bigger and longer lasting trends: Clinch covers. The man with a shirt ripped aside, showing a huge chest. The historical novel, where the heroine is just barely inside her dress, her hem hiked up by her hip. More recently, a trend crossed all genre boundaries — characters were shown with their heads chopped off at the top of the cover. (This one still lingers, too.)
The “object” cover was around for a while, too. Think of Fifty Shades of Grey — a silver tie was the only thing on the cover. There were a few imitations of that, but romance readers like their heroes, so it is pretty much a done trend now.
Urban fantasy had a woman in leather and boots, holding a sword or knife. If you look at the top sellers in UF these days, they still have the woman, but the covers aren’t nearly as identical to each other as they used to be.
Because covers keep evolving and shifting, a cover that was made only a couple of years ago can look dated. You, as a reader, might not be aware of those shifts and changes, but you’ll intuitively recognize an “old” cover and it will influence your decision to click on the book and check it out. A cover that looks very old will raise your resistance to checking the book out.
Legacy published authors don’t have to worry about the current state of fashion in book covers, because their book only lingers on the shelf for a month or so, then it is a memory. If it ever gets reprinted (unusual for everyone but the big names), then a new, fashionable cover will be made for it.
Indie authors, though, are faced with updating book covers on a regular basis. Our books are available forever and if you are reading one of my books for the first time, it reads like a fresh, new story to you…unless the cover is dated.
I’ve been indie publishing since March 2011 and some of those covers are getting a little bit dusty. Over the next couple of years, as I have funds to spare for new covers, I will be replacing many of them — especially as I finish a series.
The first in the renewal project is my Romantic Thrillers collection.
Here’s the covers — click on them for more details about each book.
Compared to the old covers, they’re very fresh!