Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From Russia with Sebastian

In response to my recent post about covers, a reader in Uzbekistan very kindly sent me files of my Russian covers. I'm supposed to get copies of all my foreign editions, but in practice I frequently don't, so this was my first glimpse of the images chosen by my Russian publishers. They are certainly very different. Here's What Angels Fear:

When Gods Die:

And Why Mermaids Sing.

Obviously, Russian art departments are as oblivious to historically correct dress as their American counterparts. I also find it interesting that they chose to put a woman on all three books, with no real sense of danger--despite the fact that the series is about a man and rather violent. Of the three, I think my favorite is the Angels cover. There is something quite intriguing about the way the woman is looking over her shoulder and faintly smiling--although I think I would be surprised if I picked up the book and read the cover copy (that is, if I could actually read the Russian cover copy, which of course I couldn't!)

Contrast this cover art with what the Australians did:

(Actually, these are early versions--I can't find the final version, in which Big Ben was Photoshopped out.)

Obviously, a very different approach and look.

The truth is, traditions in cover art vary enormously from one country to the next. Which is why smart authors don't complain about the covers of their foreign editions--because we don't know enough to make any kind of a valid judgement.

My thanks to Irin Belokon for the covers!


Elaine said...

All these covers are intriguing and I would probably pick up any of them if you and the Sebastian stories were unknown to me.

Steve Malley said...

I wonder if I've been down this way so long I've acclimated or what-- the Australasian covers catch me in a way that your US covers don't... :)

Stay dry!

Anonymous said...

I like the Australian covers better than the Russian.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Yep-- add me to those loving the Australian covers. I think they're so striking.

vp said...

I really like the Australian covers as well. Very moody.

cs harris said...

Elaine, that's interesting, given how different the covers are.

Steve, I like the Aussie covers, too.

Anon, Yes, I agree, although there is something about that Angels cover that really draws me.

Barbara, it's funny how many people like the Aussie covers, since I'm sure American art departments would say they'd never fly here.

VP, and another! They do a good job of telling readers what to expect from the story, don't they?

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

They actually stayed with me enough that I went back and looked at them again, trying to figure out what it was, exactly about them, that drew me to them. (Virgo brain, hard at work, analyzing things to death. *g*)

I think what I like about them is the use of the same faded background image with change in the pale, antiqued colors used to saturate them, coupled with the one iconic item in the foreground and the richness of the roses with the blood spatters/trails. It all combines into recognizable theme that conveys the history, the danger, and even the romance that the series is about. And they're neither overtly masculine nor feminine.

I think the only thing I would change is the title font, which I think is a bit too plain or at least, too flat and two-dimensional.

See? Analyzing things to death.

And I'm convinced that American marketing departments are so trapped in their New York offices, they have no clue what's going on in the real world. We're talking about the same folks who thought "Light My Fuego" was simply a FAB-ulous title for my first book. The one thing I fought like the dickens on even though I was scared out of my wits.

cs harris said...

Barbara, "Light My Fuego"? Oh, if only you could have heard me roar with laughter. I'm still chuckling. Please tell me you won that battle? You could enter that in one of those Worst Title contests. I'm so sorry.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Oh yeah, I won. AdiĆ³s to My Old Life was the final title, because, again, in their infinite wisdom, Marketing strongly felt that the book needed a Spanish word in the title. I strongly felt that they were idiots, but if they were going to insist, then let's make it a WORD that the majority had a fighting chance of understanding.

Pissed my editor off big time, but I won.

(Edited because the coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet.)

Katie said...

In and of themselves, I actually like the Russian covers. However, I agree it would be a huge surprise to judge a book by its cover in this case since the main character is male! I suppose someone could argue it's Kat (at least with the first two, not the blonde). As Hero has become more prominent in the series, that the last two books have had a woman on the covers hasn't been quite as strange as it might have been in the beginning. As for the Australian covers, the one for "What Angels Fear" actually reminds me a little of the American version. Maybe it's just because of the white background and the flowers. I agree with Barbara though that the font could benefit from being less flat.

emap said...

I also like the Australian covers, they are the type that catch my eye. The Russian covers are certainly interesting, although the woman on the cover of "When Gods Die" looks like she would be more at home in "Gone with the Wind" than a mystery.

Essex said...

I liked the Australian cover of Angels a lot. It really sets a mood. The Russian covers are actually very interesting and attractive to look at, but whoa! Talk about no relation to the story, and incredible liberties with history. Definitely makes me think more of romances as opposed to mystery.

paz said...

The Russian "Angels" is intriguing, but I kind of like the "Mermaids" too... Perhpas the whole faceless-ness seems appealing. The "Gods" cover, well... perhaps reminiscent of "Anna Karenina"? (Reaching for a positive...)

paz said...

Forgot to say that I totally dig the bleeding rose of the Australian cover of "Gods" !

cs harris said...

Paz, I wish I had some other Russian covers to compare these to. And yes, those bleeding roses are very clever!

To all of you who commented on this blog earlier and whose comments have disappeared into the ether, sorry!

orannia said...

YAH that your books are published in Russia!

cs harris said...

Orannia, there is something indescribably cool about being contacted by someone in Uzbekistan who says, "i love your books"!

Elaine said...

The Russian ones remind me of old historicals I read as a teen - Desiree (Selinko) and Katherine (Seton). The Australian ones still indicate historical to me, but have more edge... which is what drew me, I think, to the Sebastian books.

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