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Show & Tell – Cover Similarities

In this era of stock art, cover similarities seem to be popping up more and more often.  You want your cover to have a certain feel… and so do authors of similar books, so there are bound to be some accidental crossovers.  In some cases, it might actually be a good thing (your cover will automatically seem more familiar to readers and perhaps they will trick themselves into thinking they’ve been waiting to buy you), but it can also have drawbacks (people not buying your book because they think they already read it). 

What it boils down to is the tricky truth that we want our covers to be unique and memorable, but also give readers the familiarity of the genre cues to help them know what they will be getting, because let’s be honest, we all judge a book by it’s cover.

When I put out my first self-pub venture (a superhero novella under my Vivi Andrews name), I was worried that it wasn’t selling because it didn’t look enough like a romance (which just happens to feature people who commit acts of derring-do).  So I tweaked the cover, added a kiss… and found myself accidentally duplicating On Dublin Street. (Or at least that’s what a reviewer thought, even though my novella released three months earlier.  Hers was more famous and therefore I copied.  Arg.)

Super Double

Roll forward a couple years and the stock art duplication issue is only getting worse.  Recently the cover to my hawk-shifter book was completely redone because we realized the exact same models (in slightly different poses) had been used for three other books (in my same sub-genre, at the same publisher) in previous months.  Luckily, I loved the redo, but it was eye-opening, to realize that with all the books on the market, and all the cover artists going for a certain look and feel, individuality is a rarer commodity than ever.

TripleDouble

When I decided I was going to self-publish my contemporary romances, I got the covers for all three of the first books at the same time, since I planned on releasing them in quick succession.  Unfortunately, between the time I purchased my (charming!) cover for Falling for Mister Wrong and when it came out, I tripped across these two… (and a couple more I wasn’t able to find for this post).

FMW Triple

You can’t entirely avoid cover similarity, so I didn’t really worry about it, but I’ve decided that since this book has some winter themes (although there is also a classic car) I’m going to revamp Falling for Mister Wrong.  So now, I am pleased to reveal my new, (hopefully) unique cover for the third book of my reality romance series.  Viola!

FMW_Revised_Web

Have you tripped across duplicate covers?  Do they bother you?  What’s your take on stock art cover proliferation?

22 responses to “Show & Tell – Cover Similarities”

  1. Interesting topic! I actually ran into this with my END GAME cover. A fellow RS author (someone I group blog with!) ended up with the same couple, in the same pose, on her cover:

    END GAME (mine): http://amzn.to/1UUqa67

    RELENTLESS PURSUIT (hers): http://amzn.to/1UUqcuJ

    And I’ve been told that the cover couple I chose for my upcoming release, STACKING THE DECK, has been used often in the erotic or contemporary genres, but not so much in RS, so I’m hoping it won’t be an issue. Since hearing that, I have seen their faces (but different poses) on several covers.

    It doesn’t bother me as long as they’re tweaked enough that the covers aren’t the same…

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    • Oh, and I should add that I used Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs for these covers, and I usually check her photo stock first before looking at the more general sites where anyone can buy. Doesn’t always fit my couples/books, though.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      There are definitely ways for cover artists to make the cover have a distinctive look even with the same couple. And check out Kim Killion or other more exclusive sources for art is also a great idea.

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  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Noelle Adams has ROAD TRIPPING, which uses the same stock photo as your former Falling for Mr Wrong.

    There’s a librarian blogger in California who periodically does a post on “double covers.” She wrote one last year about a stock photo used in my cover–A Whisper in Time. I went out looking for them–and they have mostly been changed to something else.

    Here’s one that’s still around: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20757521-love-and-other-unknown-variables

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Road Tripping! I knew I’d seen more of them out there! Thanks, Beth. 🙂 And I think your cover and the one you showed here are very distinctive. Proof that the art alone does not make the cover shine.

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  3. jbrayweber says:

    I really feel like it’s a hard fact to avoid. Seems it’s happening more and more.
    Yes, it’s happened to me on one of my more recent books. I wish I could remember the other book’s name to give a link for comparison. The only reason I knew about the book is because we were entered in the same book cover contest. Same couple, same pose but different backgrounds and colors. Both covers looked great. Neither cover won the contest. LOL.

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  4. Elisa Beatty says:

    With so many books coming out, and a limited number of photographers specializing in “anonymous couple” or “anonymous shirtless guy” work, I guess it’s inevitable.

    For me, differences in cropping, color wash, and overall graphic design make the images different enough that I don’t mind too much.

    I HAVE definitely seen the couple on the cover of my upcoming third book together on other books–though in different poses, with their hair and clothing altered so much that it took me awhile to even realize it was them.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      True. Cover artists can do a lot to make the covers unique with colors and crops and whatnot. As long as the overall look doesn’t depend on the image, perhaps it doesn’t matter at all?

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  5. OMG yes – and in my case, most of the similar covers appeared within 3 months of my release. Check it out: http://amzn.to/1LgAy2e (mine)
    http://amzn.to/1F2sUaH (Kimberly Kincaid’s)
    http://amzn.to/1LgAHTg (Keri Ford)
    and the most recent addition, http://amzn.to/1F2t81w (Bella Andre) None of the artists even changed the shirt color. Grrrr.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Wow! That’s a cute couple, but they do seem to be everywhere.

      You know I’m wondering if the similarity is more obvious in contemporary romance where the focus is more on the couple? And there aren’t the same mods/effects to make the cover have a paranormal/RS/YA feel?

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  6. For this exact reason, I went with original photography for my books. They didn’t sell. I gave in and went with stock photography and put people on the covers. They’ve sold much better, but I did things like change the characters hair color, nail polish, lipstick. Little things to help them be a bit different than the others out there.

    On the other side of that, I purchased an exclusive photo and am now kicking myself because I didn’t get the pic of just the couple nor are there others of them readily available which makes creating promo art a bit more difficult. Wish I’d thought of that before I purchased the pic, but then again, it’s a pretty awesome cover.

    Here’s the link to the only pic out there of it at the moment. It releases next month.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1163760190306581/

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      I’ve never gone the original photography route – it seems like a lot of expense and effort, but at least you know you have a unique product and can hopefully get exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a fascinating conundrum, cover art. 🙂

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  7. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Fantastic post, Vivi! I make my own covers and try really hard to make them look totally different. I sometimes buy up to four pieces of stock art and combine them to produce something unique. I flip them, zoom in, change hair colors, clothing colors, backdrops, all the way to changing the heads on models I find unattractive. So even if another author’s cover starts with the same stock photo, mine looks different enough that no one would ever confuse my book with another writer’s. I also bend over backwards to come up with titles that haven’t been used more than once–and preferably not too recently. Although, I can’t stop other authors from using the one I chose after the fact.

    I’ve been planning a book for a about three years now that I gave a unique title, and I recently discovered someone just released a book with the same name. I’m not changing this one because it fits too perfectly and hers is the only other novel with that title. It ticks me off because I chose it almost three years ago. But that’s the way it goes.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Yes! The unique titles too! I think most of mine are pretty unusual (I dare someone else to write “The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant”) but especially in genre fiction we do sometimes see the old favorites trotted out over and over again. 🙂

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  8. Gwyn says:

    It seems to me this issue is more prevalent in contemporary covers, but I’m also starting to see it in SFR covers. Thanks to Laurie’s skills, it’s not something that concerns me overmuch, but I can see where it would become problematic, especially with buyers thinking they bought the book because they recognize the cover.

    If it’s any consolation, Vivi, I much prefer the redo of your cover. It seems less generic and more I’d-like-to-know-that-couple to me, if that makes any sense.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Thank you, Gwyn! I toyed with other ideas but waited to reboot the cover until I had one that I liked better than the original, not just one that I could accept as a consolation prize. I really think it fits the story beautifully. Hopefully readers like it too! 🙂

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  9. Covers! I have a love/hate relationship relationship with them. They are so hard to get right and then you have to worry about duplications or copycats. To me, the main issue is to depict an element of your book that is unique to your story, so that no matter how many others select your “couple” your cover still has a different look and feel. Also, I chop off their heads so people can’t say “hey, that’s the same guy from that other book”. And then I go with colors that pop and stand out. Not sue how well that has worked, but I do get a good response for the covers of both my Good Reders and Billionaire Brotherhood series. Ans I love you contemporary covers, Vivi!

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