Open Discussion – Cover Models

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

Today we’re going to be talking about covers and the cover model choices publishing houses make. You may have remembered that we touched on this a little bit last year here, but I feel that it bears repeating. Plus, it makes for an interesting open discussion! So let’s look at some covers and get this discussion started.


By Your Side by Candace Calvert

Macy Wynn is Asian American. Oddly enough, the cover model for Macy WAS Asian American. The publishers redid the Kindle cover and now the model appears to be Caucasian.


Biblical Fiction

I’ve noticed in a lot of Biblical fiction, the cover model automatically takes on a paler hue. Where does the assumption come from that people in that time where pale? Jesus himself was described as having skin the color of bronze.


When They Celebrate Diversity

20 thoughts on “Open Discussion – Cover Models

  1. I can understand why indie authors might have a hard time getting their characters just right (financial constraints) but it seems to me, the big publishers should have adequate funding and make bringing readers the most accurate and appealing cover a top priority.
    Cute graphic covers and covers with less character detail are also popular. I’d rather see covers go in those directions instead of misrepresenting the character’s appearance.
    Thanks for bringing this topic up!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Traditional Christian publishers and editors go by the thought that readers want to read about people that look like them and then state that Christian readers are mostly white. I want to believe that isn’t true but lately I have been saddened by a lot of racism, including (and sometimes worse) from people who state they are Christians. I think we who believe in the Truth, that God loves us all as His children, no matter the color of their skin or where they are from, that we need to write and support those who write with those ideals, including with representative book covers. Sadly, those traditional publishers are reflecting many “traditional” prejudiced readers. I might sound disgruntled and cynical but the current climate seems to be showing what has been lurking in many people’s hearts for some time: hate and fear. But that is why we must work harder to bring live and light into this dark world! So, onward Christian soldiers, we must march into war against hatred.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think it’s easier for contemporary writers to find cover art that matches their characters. Historical characters? More of a challenge. (This might be a case of the grass being greener over there. I spend hours/days/weeks searching for a model who fit the heroine in my upcoming book.)

    Of course, it’s also a problem for characters who are disabled or older or otherwise don’t fit the norm. A classic example is a book Lois McMaster Bujold wrote, where the hero’s disabilities had resulted in him being a foot shorter than the heroine, who was a very reserved, “older” (i.e. not 20) widow. Because it was a romance with humorous elements, the publisher decided to have a cover that featured a tall, broad-shouldered man looked down at a young, simpering ingenue. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Acivilcampaign.JPG

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Almost off topic, but that’s one thing I appreciate about the 2006 movie The Nativity Story, which has actors/actresses of color. In every movie or biblical reenactment I’d seen before then, Mary, Joseph, and all the other characters had usually been depicted as white, despite the region the story takes place in.

    (There was one exception, where the large church I used to go to was predominantly white, and yet for the big Christmas production that year, they took a departure from their previous productions and chose to present the three kings as men of different races with elaborate costumes to match their kingdoms. I was only a preteen when I saw it, but I was thrilled to nearly tears when the Asian ruler walked in, and then an African one, followed by a Caucasian one.)

    As for ChristFic book covers, yes, cover models are a challenge as an indie author, especially for my books that aren’t contemporary fiction. But regardless of what “color” may sell better in the genre, I am *determined* to keep writing diversity into my books and clearly depicting it right on the covers. Christan Fiction *needs* that.

    I’m not saying that everyone in Christian publishing uses the excuse or does it all the time, and I’m not discounting how things have gotten somewhat better, but it’s time out for using “diversity doesn’t sell” as an excuse to whitewash our stories and book covers. Times are changing, and Christian authors and publishers have GOT to keep up with the curve–or even dare to get ahead of it, as Christ did.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I cannot like this comment enough. That’s why I make the choice to choose African Americans on my covers, to show readers diversity and to reach those who haven’t read a Christian fiction book with African Americans on it.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. πŸ™‚ As for the idea of daring to be ahead of the curve, it’s something I’ve often thought about, at least since my preteens. It seems that Christians are too often behind in arts and entertainment. Mainstream culture comes up with something new (or at least new to the generation, or a fresh spin on something old), Christian circles see that it’s a good idea, and then a copy, a “Christian version” of the new thing, comes out. Trouble is, by the time the Christian version releases, the new thing isn’t really new anymore. πŸ˜€ And, yeah–the secular world notices when that happens.

    I’ve thought, “If we believe in the sovereign *Creator* of the universe, can’t we create more new things on our own, start our own trends, instead of waiting to see what pop culture is doing first?”

    It makes me nervous as an author, as sometimes I wish I could just relax and write the kind of stuff I’ve heard will be a quick sell, the kind of stuff that’s already trending, instead of writing this “different” stuff that pops into my brain. But then I’m like, “Well, Nadine. You always said you didn’t want to just copy what you’ve already seen before. So now your stuff is kinda different. Maybe that’s the point.”

    I realize that the challenge of diversity, even as it relates to book covers, is not a problem that’s isolated to only Christian Fiction. But I don’t think we need to wait until mainstream literature gets more on the ball first. It’d be awesome to see more Christian art and entertainment leading the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! We need to write what the Holy Spirit leads us to. For example, when I wrote a book about The Dream Act in 2012, no one but me and a few others cared about that topic. It was just something God laid on my heart. And no traditional Christian agent or editor or publisher seemed to want it (even after it got 2nd place in the Genesis contest), so I prayed about it and did what all my friends had been telling me for ages and went the indie route. Then like 2 months later, all the DACA and Dream Act stuff came back into the news with a force. I am telling you. Follow the Holy Spirit; it will not lead you astray.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. And Christian indie authors CAN take the lead in this: producing good books with characters of all nationalities and ethnicities, having covers that actually represent the characters.

    I am coming late to this thread, but I want to agree that our characters should look like who they are. And I also agree that Black people are underrepresented in the stock photo offerings. I am pleased with the cover image I finally found for Hope for the Holidays, but it took forever. Right now, for my next book, I would like to find a group of Black children sitting on the dock at a lake, or camping, or in/by a kayak, There is NOTHING. Apparently, photographers aren’t aware that Black people live and vacation outside the big city or suburbs. (Sarcasm)

    (I have the opposite problem when looking for a cover for the last book in this series. “Young blonde woman” yields a million results, many of which are pornographic or at least inappropriate!)

    Liked by 2 people

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