Pub Rants

Covers—Non-American Style

 29 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: One contract complete. One more still to go and I’m reading away on fun stuff. Gorgeous days like these (It’s sunny, not a cloud in the sky, 70 degrees), boy, it’s great to be an agent sitting on my balconey. I’m reading a full right now that I like so much, I’m probably going to call the author as soon as I finish reading.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I’LL BE AROUND by The Spinners

This might interest nobody but me but I have to say that I’m completely fascinated with the foreign edition covers of my clients’ books. Sometimes I’m confused by the chosen foreign title and the image. Sometimes I laugh with delight. Sometimes the covers invoke a “huh?”

For the most part, the author doesn’t get a say in the cover art or the publishing strategy in the foreign territory. Often, the book will just suddenly appear on our doorstop and then all you can do is go, “okay, some young Indonesian gal is probably going to take this Indo-version to the beach this year.” If the cover implies a beach read and young women readers that is.

But sometimes, and it’s just so much fun when it happens, sometimes the foreign publisher really wants the author to be involved in the process and that is certainly the case with Ally Carter’s I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU. The Japanese translator was in frequent contact with Ally—determined to get the translation just right (and there were some hilarious conversations as Ally attempted to explain, in detail, certain American idioms and what might be the Japanese equivalent). Hence the title change as well.

Ally’s Japanese publisher even sent us the cover art for our approval because they are just so excited about this book and want us to be completely thrilled.

Well, let me tell you, we are.

Maybe it’s just me but this Manga-inspired cover just rocks. Look at it. Clockwise from the top it’s Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macey. The Gallagher Girls envisioned.

Japanese Cover

And for fun comparison, the US cover

29 Responses

  1. Kimber An said:

    I totally 100% prefer the Japanese version! The American version with its skinny blond girl looking hot in a schoolgirl uniform implies that image is the only way to go, feeding into our culture’s efforts to make girls feel they have to look a certain way in order to be accepted. It also looks like it’s appealing to men with a schoolgirl-fetish. The Japanese version is totally hot, but has a variety of representations of young women on the front. Not only that, being Manga-inspired, it targets exactly the audience this book is written for – young, intelligent women with a strong sense of adventure! American cover-makers, take notice! Way to go, Japanese friends! I hope you’re still around when my book is published. By the quality of your work, you certainly will be.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Good think I’m American. I so prefer the original cover. But no doubt Spy Girl will get readers with its anime-style cover.

  3. Elektra said:

    I usually hate anime, but I do like the cover. The American one, not so much (just because I don’t like it when there are pictures of the MC on the front, as I’m then forced to imagine that girl the whole time I read, whether I like it or not).

  4. Virginia Miss said:

    Wow, they look like two completely different books. The Japanese one makes me think it’s a fun action story, while the American one gives me the impression it’s more teen chick lit.

  5. Patrick McNamara said:

    I like the Japanese version better, though the figures look a little small. It looks as if it would appeal more to YA readers.

    As a matter of clarification, anime refers to Japanese animation while manga refers to the comic books. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of my stories produced as anime.

  6. Anonymous said:

    Cool cover!! I’m 28 years old and absolutely loved that book–actually I love YA books, my husband says it’s because I’m a big kid…
    Way to go on the covers!!

  7. Anonymous said:

    Kimber An wrote:
    “It also looks like it’s appealing to men with a schoolgirl-fetish.”

    I have to admit that my first thought was if I had a stack of YA and one of them was this book with the American cover, my husband would certainly pull it out of the stack to have a closer look…Luckily for him, I’m posting anonymously to protect his identity.

  8. Shawna said:

    I think the Japanese cover beats the socks off the US version… be curious to see, if they were side by side to compare, which one teens liked better, not knowing they were the same story. I’m thinking manga-style would be the heavy fave.

  9. Jim C. Hines said:

    I love the Japanese cover — that’s great!

    The first foreign cover I got (for a Russian translation) turned out to be recycled artwork from a John DeChancie novel. It was a bit confusing at first, trying to understand what the dinosaur was doing on the cover of my sword & sorcery novel… I’m told this isn’t uncommon in Russia, and that a lot of cover art gets reused in this way.

  10. Orhan Kahn said:

    The difference between the two covers are marketed extremely well. From the Hello Kitty style artwork on the Japanese version to the presumably iPod earphone on the US cover. These subtle effects make a huge impact on there intended audience.

    I like them both.

  11. Shouga Tea said:

    I can see (having lived in Japan for 4 yrs.) why they wanted the uniform to be less focal. In Japan, all schoolgirls wear uniforms; it just doesn’t have the same connotation.
    But, in the minority, can I say the preppy cutthroat idea totally sells me on the US version? And I wouldn’t buy one with the Japanese cover. But congrats to Ally!

  12. Julie Leto said:

    Kristin, congrats to Ally on two great covers. I bought the US version and I didn’t think the cover was at all school-girl fetish. Just teen chick lit cool. I like the Japanese cover, too and I can see how it clearly is aimed at the target demographic. Fabulous to see publishers being so thoughtful about decisions that can make or break a book–like it or not, readers DO judge books by the cover–though I bought the book on word of mouth.

  13. Not the Coroner said:

    It never occured to me that covers would be different until I tried to purchase the subsequent “Across the Nightingale Floor” books from Amazon US. The US covers were close, but not exactly the same as the New Zealand cover I had on the first book I bought on vacation.

    I prefer the NZ (and I assume UK) styles so much that I have had to order the books from Whitcouls in Australia just so I can have nice hardcovers with matching covers.

    In doing this, I seem to have uncovered a secret for having the book in hand prior to most American readers waiting on the US release.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I still have no idea why so many recent books feature legs or other partial bodies on the cover. It really doesn’t seem that enticing to me (unless you’re a leg fetishist).