My Worst Cover Ever

Have you seen the large print cover for Agnes and the Hitman? As Lani said, “It’s like all the pretty in the world got sucked into the main cover, and all they had left was… that.”

Ugly Agnes

No, I don’t know why Agnes is in bondage.

In other news, if you’ve been dying to know what Bob and I sound like, listen to an interview with us here.

84 thoughts on “My Worst Cover Ever

  1. Large print covers are usually diabolical but at least they’re simpler than that. I mean, how are sight impaired people going to work out whats going on? Full of static.

  2. Oh for heaven’s sake! What is worse, that someone suggested this cover thinking it was a good idea – OR – that other people agreed?

    At least Agnes has cute shoes.

  3. The scary thing is that a grown-up art designer actually designed this *on purpose* and set up photo shoot and hired a model, and bought stock art of flamingos and bloodhounds, and got paid for putting it all together. And the sales force doesn’t care about large-print books because they’re such a small percentage of their sales. But you’re right–it’s very unfortunate.

    However, you can take consolation that anyone who knows your name will happily snatch it up anyway and devour it just as if it had no cover at all. And–there may be some new readers who actually think the cover is . . . intriguing, or lively, and might pick it up. It takes all kinds.

  4. Oh my. Thing is, it has the potential to be decent. The design and colors aren’t actively awful. I don’t get the bondage, but what really offends me is the details.
    a) The way her spaghetti-strap top and halter-neck apron go together so poorly and unflatteringly. Also she shouldn’t be wearing a strapless bra, or at least not one that fits her so poorly
    b) the really unattractive sandals
    c) the way the bloodhound is so jarringly differently-lit and kind of pixellated
    d) the way the flamingo is also poorly-lit and clashes
    e) the awkward pose where her legs are kind of just, well, there
    f) if she’s got to be irrelevantly in bondage, couldn’t it be, well, convincing? Who drapes rope around a woman’s arms like a shawl?
    g) the font with associated half-assed text effects
    i) headless woman = couldn’t afford actual convincing model, or makeup artist. Cutting her off at the shoulders, or just above the rope, would’ve been less obvious

    etc. It could be OK, really, if you wanted the kitchen-sink design ethos. It’s just that they spent about $5 on it.

    Well! At least the main cover is pretty, right?
    And at least whoever set this up read the book, right? My favorite awful covers are the ones where the cover art consists of characters that have nothing to do with the book, drawn in a style that has nothing to do with the genre. Those are usually entertainingly frustrating.

    But yes, they’re usually better-designed, academically, than this.
    But thanks for reminding me that I had put off reading the dang thing until after the holidays. Timely reminder!

  5. They’d better get on the stick; don’t the first baby boomers retire this year? A large part of the reading audience may well be needing large print books in the next decade, and the first publisher to come up with acceptable covers will probably make a killing. What would have been so hard about just using the hardback cover with the elements enlarged?

  6. Not to mention that that cover is actually kind of hard to read because there’s so much going on. If they have to have a different cover, maybe they should consider making all their large print covers similar — The title nice and large with a single element.

  7. Well … they got her glasses right.

    It’s just very, very odd. And it makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable. Maybe because the apron reminds me of a French maid’s uniform? Actually, playing with the scroll bar just now I inadvertently cut off the top of the cover and with just the flamingo and the dog it isn’t too bad. Except then people would think Agnes was the plastic flamingo. Okay I was trying to find something good here.

    They got her glasses right.

  8. Smart Bitches have ripped on Aibell Press in the past for producing rather blatantly Photo-shopped covers. It makes me wonder if the art director of Aibell has moved on to bigger and better things — like your book.

    You have to admit, it’s eye-catching. Gorge-rising, too. I hate the fact that they cut off her head. What’s the symbolism in that????

    You get a poor baby, and a pint of cyber ice cream, your choice.

  9. Ugh!

    It might be much better if the black and white squares were gone….maybe

    You two sound great.

  10. Oh man, I thought the GROB cover was bad! I saw that on the site and I thought it was some kind of discarded prototype. :shudder: It’s just wrong.

    I loved the interview, you guys sounded fantastic. You can hear the sibling-ly affection in word.

  11. Normally, Jenny, you don’t arouse pity. But. Um. Yeah, it looks like somebody cut up magazines & stuck stuff together. Five minutes before deadline. Without putting much interest into it.

    In print, Agnes never came across as skinny & headless.

    I read large-type books when ever I can. It’s just more relaxing to read without glasses.

    And where is Shane?

  12. The important part: They spelled the names correctly. And the title.
    Does that dog really have a bowtie on?
    See, the really, really bad thing is that I looked at the picture first before I read the words and assumed it was a Crusie collage and thought that was reason enough never to try collaging.

  13. OMG – worst cover ever. And for your best book yet. If I had submitted something like this to my design teacher I would have failed big time. Any chance you can get approval rights over future covers??

  14. Okay, I have to ask:

    Is it just me or are those shoes brown?

    (I fully realize how warped it is that the issue bugging me the most with this cover is the potential of brown shoes with an otherwise black outfit, but I am my mother’s daughter… and I’d really like to know.)

  15. Wow. I would never buy that book unless I was already a fan of either author. It just screams “I know how to cut and paste in Paint!” I shudder to think of the design meeting where that was approved. I wonder if they had some special brownies?

  16. Clearly, I am on board the ugly cover bandwagon. It’s extremely odd and amateurish.

    But I loved the interview. You both sound great. It’s wonderful to put voices behind the “voices”. (you know what I mean) Thanks for doing the interview and for sharing it.

  17. I just finished reading Agnes and loved it and sent you a note to say so – also commenting on how GREAT the cover is.

    Does anyone know WHY the large print edition should require a different cover?

  18. It is a truly remarkable cover. It must have required some kind of deeply perverted genius to come up with it. The designer did not need to have read the book: he/she has been given a list of elements – authors’ names, title, woman in apron and oven gloves, red spectacles, frying pan, flamingo, bloodhound – and has bundled them all willy-nilly into the available space.
    Agnes is headless, the flamingo is legless, and so, I think, was the designer.

  19. Who is Burr? When I went to hear the B&N audio interview, I read the PW review about AATH that went with it and it referenced Burr twice, as if Burr were the writer. I am sorry if I am a total moron about this, but I am extremely baffled.

  20. Never mind…I decided to use my head and Google Burr. She’s the narrator on the audio version of AATH. But the placement of the PW blurb on that page with your interview is kind of confusing–they don’t say it’s a review of the audio version of AATH!

  21. Never mind…I decided to use my head and Google Burr. She’s the narrator on the audio version of AATH. But the placement of the PW blurb on that page with your interview is kind of confusing–they don’t say it’s a review of the audio version of AATH!

  22. Okay, I agree with the other comments about ALL the things wrong with this cover, but was laughing at Lori’s comment that the brown shoes really bugged her. I think my ‘last straw’ peeve is even more OCD. The cheap frying pan bugs me. You couldn’t really bean anybody with that lightweight thing! Jeez, I gotta get out of my kitchen more….

  23. Wow Bridget, you caught all that? My eyes are burning and my brain exploded from all the information on that page. I kid you not. I keep looking away.

    Poor Baby.

    But, if her shoes are brown with her black dress, perhaps that is an homage to Bob…

  24. I don’t know… My kitchen floor is kind of tiled like that… The apron and matchig mittens are not bad…
    What really needs to go is the pink flamingo beneath the red letters. And the dog. Is her dog really supposed to look like that? You don’t want to touch the book because there might be dog slobber on it (you can tell I’m a cat person).

    Next, I’d introduce the publisher to these gifted graphic designers I know. They’d fix the rest in no time.

  25. Yes, it was an enjoyable interview. Y’all talk really fast, but with good diction, so ah could understand it. Very funny and free, no posing.

  26. I’m with Jeynifer. Why DO large print books need different covers? I work in a library and have been puzzled from day one about that.

    And yes. It is heinous.

  27. Large print books are published by different publishers. So they have to negotiate to get the covers that the regular books had and if the cover fee is too expensive, they make their own.

  28. Horrible cover.

    Excellent interview. And for anyone who is interested, you can get more of these author interviews from B&N through iTunes. They don’t have this one out there yet, but you can hear Terry Pratchett, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and many others.

  29. Wow. I thought Suzanne Brockmann’s Pillsbury Doughboy SEAL was the worst cover ever. Then I saw this.

    On the plus side, the interview is terrific.

  30. Talpianna-I thought it looked like a kid’s hand coming out of her breast. Unusual place for it. 😉

    Sorry you got such a bad cover for such a good book Jenny. I loved the interview. It reminded me of Dayton and the bookstore signings. A fun night. I needed that. Thank you.

  31. Ugly, ugly cover. Great, wonderful interview. I could tell that you two truly appreciate what each brings to the table when you collaborate (or is that partner?).

    Thanks for sharing the interview, could have done without seeing the awful cover.

  32. The only possible excuse for that cover that I can come up with is that they were thinking large print=legally blind. I didn’t say it was a GOOD excuse, but that’s the best I’ve got.

    I think it’s the fact that someone got paid to design that cover that horrifies me the most. It’s all graphic and no design. Scary.

  33. Ugh, that is truly awful!!! Hurts my eyes.

    There’s a librarian who has devoted her blog to bad cover art. Some of them are incredibly bad – especially the one in March 2007 with the naked guy under the covers with the pigs next to the bed (shudder).

    Check out:

  34. IIRC, Rick told me that the cover of Mall Purchase Night was redrawn to make the bosom a bit less conspicuous; what looks like a third breast, under the jagged neckline, is actually the side of breast #2. I’m not sure if it was the breast itself or the neckline that was redrawn, but someone didn’t do a good job. Anyway, I told Rick that he wrote the book just so he could get in the line, referring to a fae fleeing after an encounter with a mall ice cream cart, “That was a chocolate-covered brownie.”

    He didn’t deny it.

  35. Perhaps if all the people who commented before me, wrote to the publisher and complained about this awful cover that future covers might be better.

    Jenny, are you allowed to recommend covers to your publishers?

  36. I don’t have any contact with the large print publisher; that negotiation is down with my regular publisher. I see them for the first time when they deliver my author’s copies. Milton chewed on both of mine.

  37. I can sense you’re sooo disturbed by Milton eating that cover. Not. That was a lovely interview.

    Adding to Bridget’s fine assessment of how the right elements didn’t add up to the right effect:
    – why doesn’t that woman have hips?
    – those are hideous sandals, exposing misshapen toes
    – that’s a cheap-o frying pan. Agnes would spit on that pan, and not to test the heat either. It wouldn’t hold up to even one thwack. Couldn’t they have bought a real pan and just returned it after the shoot.
    – I think the flamingo would have been better in the lower left corner and the dog by or covering her feet.
    – I don’t have a problem with a headless Agnes so much as an ugly one. Along with no hips and the bad straps, that apron is crooked. Couldn’t they have picked an apron that would have tied the colors together? I guess not.
    – Where’s the hitman aspect?

    It’s so much easier to say why something is wrong than why something is right. Fortunately the original Agnes has one of the best covers in literary history. Punchy from a distance, detailed up close, good colors, relevant, and just plain (as my mother would say) “cooler ‘n hooties”.

  38. Eek! A reality check for my fantasy of being a writer–having no control over having your name on something like that must be one of the worst things about being a published writer.

    However, it does suggest that there is something to the concept of karma and balance in the universe. The original hardback edition had such a really great cover, so of course this cover had to be just awful. At least it wasn’t the other way around.

  39. I come here every day hoping for a new post. *sigh* You really need to enter that thing in a contest, and I’ll bet you’ll win if not get an honorable mention.

  40. I thought the publisher I worked for picked some stinkers.

    When one thinks of the many gorgeous collages you have done, its a wonder the company hasn’t tossed cover design for your books onto your list of “things to do”. Have you been hiding this collaging talent from your publishers?

    I always wondered how writers can keep writing, after having tasteless covers done to them because of a publisher. Amazing these guys (publishers) haven’t pushed more writers out of the industry..TG, you’re driven..

  41. Well, about the best I can say about that cover is that it might grab your attention from across the store. Unfortunately, the reaction of, “Oh my God, have you ever seen a more hideous cover?” negates the boost.

    Perhaps it’s a plot by the large print pubs to convince the original house to give up the original cover for less money. “Negotiate a more favorable deal or we’ll cover the book like THIS!”

  42. The cover is completely different than anything I have ever seen. For that reason alone, I would have picked it up to read the back copy.

    I like it. Don’t know why I do. It disturbs me on some levels, but I like it. Gives me a “Fargo” feeling.

    I am a virgin poster here, so be kind. LOL

  43. Welcome Ellen. And JENNY, it’s cruel to keep up that post. What happened to letting go? It’s like a scab people would want to pick at. How about a post about Milton? I miss Milton, Veronica, Wolfie, Annie…

  44. I think the biggest thing that bothers me about this cover is the model (something someone else may have mentioned but I didn’t read all the comments). It’s completely obvious that she’s just standing there, holding the pan. And then they draped the ropes over her arms. She doesn’t look like she’s tied tightly. She doesn’t look like she’s struggling (which Agnes would do). She’s just standing there.

    Although I do have to say I like how the flamingo contrasts with “Agnes” and the background. The bright pink against all that blank and white is pretty eye popping and stellar. It’s just too bad most of the cover is too busy to notice it.

  45. Ooooh. It’s rope. I thought the “bring home the bacon” chic had small boobs and her shrug slipped down. My bad.

  46. My parent’s drilled ‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ into my brain… so…

    You know Jenny your my favourite author! The book was awesome! 😀


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