Open Discussion: Who/what should be on the cover?

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m excited to jump start today’s open discussion. My co-contributor, Alexis, and I were discussing this and voila, a discussion post was created.

Today’s question is “who/what should be on the cover” of an ethnically diverse book? Sure it seems like the obvious answer would be an ethnically diverse character, but is it?

What if a cover such as this one (yes I used my own) prevents a non-minority reader from picking up the book because she thinks she won’t be able to relate to the characters?

Sure, it’s nice looking, but does it scare away readers who are not African American? Would some publishers even considering putting people on the cover or would they automatically use one without in the hopes that it’ll reach more readers?

Cecelia Dowdy is an Indie (independent) publisher. She chose to use silhouettes on the cover of her Bakery Romance series. Her characters are ethnically diverse, but will a reader realize that? Sure, she’ll describe the characters in the books, but will a reader pick up on that or automatically assume they’re Caucasian?

Indie authors have the choice to choose what goes on the cover, but they still have to look at the marketing aspect. Google romance covers and you’ll see the majority of them have people on the covers. Some readers want the picture to clue them in how the character(s) look(s).

But are covers without people bad? Ms. Raney doesn’t have a couple on her cover. In fact, this book features an interracial couple. However, it is important to note that none of her covers in the Chicory Inn series have people and that is the main reason they went without people. In fact, the Dutch versions all have the female lead. But I’m curious, would a publisher get backlash from readers if they used an interracial couple on the cover? After all, in some parts of the United States, interracial relationships are still frowned upon. Just a couple of years ago, there was a huge uproar when a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios featured an interracial family. Are publishers (Indie or traditional) not being “honest” when they choose to not depict the faces?

So what is an author to do, if she has a choice? What is a publisher supposed to do? Put ethnically diverse people on the covers or not? If they chose not to, are they hurting the opportunity for minorities to see more books that feature people like them?

What say you? Who or what should be on the cover of ethnically diverse books?

Post written by Toni Shiloh

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