Cover Model problems

One of the problems with writing a book is that you imagine your characters look a certain way. The marketing department can’t read your mind. To tell the truth, they don’t even try. In fact, they often don’t read the book. You might describe your character as Latina (My Double Life) mydoublelife_new_4_Page_2but don’t expect them to put a Latina girl on the cover. And no matter how many times you say your main character has honey-brown hair (Slayers) Marketing may decide that blonde hair pops more on the cover, so that’s what you’re going to get.Slayers (new cover)(Although I have to admit they’re right. The blonde hair is a nice contrast against the dark cover.)

Long time fans can already guess who I was imagining that Dirk and Jesse looked like. After all, I say in Slayers that Dirk is a dead ringer for Dirk Benedict.DirkBenedict

And I say right on my website that Richard Hatch from Battlestar Gallactica was my teenage crush. Rich & I

So I had teenage versions of these guys in mind:

dirk benedict and richard hatch

This is what marketing decided Dirk and Jesse looked like:Slayers cover

It still looks dang cool. I can’t complain.

Tori is a socialite so I had a softer vision of her in my mind. Something like this:shutterstock_82225732The girl on the cover looks like she could and might beat you up. I guess it works though. I mean, she does fight dragons.

The weird thing that happens—at least for me—is that after I see the cover, as I’m revising the story, the characters start to look like the cover models. Just one of the hazards of writing novels.


  1. Beedubbs
    September 2, 2013 at 12:26 am

    You know, I’ve always hated that sometimes. Twilight is probably the biggest screw-up of that ever. I mean, I pictured a really hot, mysterious, darker-gaired guy for Edward and we get Pattinson. I pictured a tall, baby-faced cute boy for Jacob and we get steroid stocky short lautner. None of the boys in that movie are cute at all! I pictured a soft, innocent honey girl for Bella and we get KStew. I mean…really. I can’t read the book anymore, especially since they’re on the cover! Sometimes I wish that characters would always look how you imagined them…

    • Janette Rallison
      September 2, 2013 at 10:20 am

      If only there was a way to choose our own characters when we watch a movie. That will probably happen at some point as computer graphics get better . . .

  2. Tiana Smith
    September 2, 2013 at 6:55 am

    If I see a movie version of a book I read, I’ve found that the next time I go back to the book, I start seeing the characters as their movie counterparts. The only time this didn’t really happen to me is for Twilight since I liked the books but hated the movies. So I only saw one of the movies once and the actors didn’t “stick” for me.

    • Janette Rallison
      September 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

      It’s funny how much influence the actors have on the book. I liked Edward better when I read the series, but when the movies came out, I liked Jacob better because I liked Lautner better than Pattinson. After the Harry Potter Movies came out, I saw the movie characters in my mind any time I read the books.

  3. Melinda
    September 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

    That’s funny because that was one of the first thoughts I had about the cover for My Double Life after I’d read the book… she’s not Latina! 🙂

    • Janette Rallison
      September 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      See, you clearly read the book, whereas the marketing department didn’t.

  4. Eliza
    September 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I never liked the cover for my Double Life. The model’s dress is too weird and clingy.

    • Janette Rallison
      September 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      And too revealing if you look closely. I’m glad you didn’t look closely.

  5. Maria Hoagland
    September 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Since we’re on the topic of Harry Potter, the thing that bugged me the most was the in the book, a big deal was made of his green eyes. How hard would it have been to put green lenses in the kid’s eyes? Seriously. But I get what you’re saying. Now that I do my own book covers, I see how difficult it is to get the pics to look exactly as I picture the characters and situation.

    • Janette Rallison
      September 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Exactly. They kept saying that he had his mother’s eyes, but if I remember right, his eyes didn’t look like the eyes of the actress they chose to be his mother. Those are little things, but they still bother me.

  6. Marissa
    September 6, 2013 at 1:39 am

    It doesn’t bother me at all if the picture or actor doesn’t match what I imagine, but the cover not matching the text of the book is a pet peeve of mine. I think it originated over a decade ago when I was trying to figure out which character was which on a cover and they just would not match up.

  7. Megan
    September 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I had the same thoughts as Melinda on My Double Life…I had to keep reminding myself that she was Latina and not blonde while I was reading. Sometimes I wish I could read it without seeing the cover, so I can imagine the descriptions. Love your books! They are great books for me to read and share with my teenage nieces!

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