Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Is competence hot?

Asks a post by Marie Brennen (author of MIDNIGHT NEVER COME, which I swear I will get to sometime this year) here.

Actually that’s not quite true. The post is asserting that competence IS hot and scantily clad contortionists do not look competent. Here’s my favorite bit:

Do these [urban fantasy contortionist-with-sword] covers actually appeal to women? It seems like they must, or publishers wouldn’t use them . . . but I’m not sure it’s that simple. At this point, they definitely work in terms of advertising “this book is an urban fantasy!,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the underlying appeal is very strong.

And I couldn’t agree more.

Except that really I could.

I think that marketing departments notwithstanding, those covers actually hurt urban fantasies by making them all look exactly the same.

I remember being just appalled when I was in a big box bookstore a few years ago and a) EVERY BOOK IN THE SF/F SECTION WAS AN URBAN FANTASY. Well, not really, obviously, but it sure seemed that way because b) THEY ALL HAD EXACTLY THE SAME COVER. Well obviously not really, but here’s the thing: it sure seemed that way.

And the effect was that I didn’t know which book to pick up and read the back cover copy or the first page. They all looked so totally clonal that I just got overwhelmed by the mere idea of trying to sort through them, so I ignored them all and wandered over to look at cookbooks.

And my conclusion is that marketing departments might try shaking up the UF Look just a trifle. In particular, when my very own urban (well, mostly rural, but whatever) fantasy comes out? I definitely do not want a sexy contortionist on the cover.

And that is completely aside from all the questions about the objectification of women etc etc etc. Which I followed this other link that led to a should-Wonder-Woman-wear-pants poll and I do suspect there’s an additional big factor leading to people not liking the idea, I mean besides possible sexism etc. I mean, hello? People love traditional looks because they’re traditional. No major double standard really needed to explain why people say No on that particular poll.

No, if you want to look at sexual double standards, I think you’re better off looking at modern UF covers rather than iconic symbols of everybody’s childhood.

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