Cover-up, part two

Trial by Desire

Okay. I haven’t really talked about the problem with my book cover much on this blog, because, you know, you never want to insult anyone.

But…take a look at this cover. No, really. Take a very close look at it, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Do you see it yet? Hot guy, check. Provocative pose, check. Indication that characters might, in fact, enjoy themselves at some point during the course book? Check. Intimation that the characters might, in fact, engage in some kind of hanky-panky during the course of the book? Check, check, check.

Now that I’ve pointed out all these undesirable characteristics, no doubt you’ve caught on to the difficulty I’m having with this book. It’s one that Lisa Solod Warren over at the Huffington Post would recognize in an instant.

The answer is really kind of frightening, and so I have to whisper. Lean very, very close to the monitor.

This looks like a book that you would read for pleasure.

Trial by Barbed Wire: A book about exclusion and semiotics for,    like, extremely smart people. Like you. Yeah, you.The horror! The horror! Now, truthfully, I can’t deny the claim. Yes, I admit. There are parts that are intended to be funny. And if you press me, I have to admit that there are parts that are supposed to be hot. My hero and heroine…touch each other. For the purpose of giving pleasure. And, even worse: it works at the time. There’s even a happy ending. Animals do not grace its pages for the sheer purpose of killing them in a heart-rending moment at the end. Children do not succumb to mysterious illnesses in the final pages.

And so we all know what that means: this book is meaningless drivel, and anyone who sees you reading it will judge you accordingly.

Luckily, I am a writer of fiction, and so I’ve decided to come up with an alternate cover for this book. Just as I did for Proof by Seduction, I’ve created a printable book cover that will convince anyone who takes their reading selections solely from the New York Times book review section that you, yes you, are a brilliant person.

Trial by Desire? Pah. Smart people don’t have desires. They certainly don’t feel anything below the waist–at least, not anything good. Let’s face it. If you want to be smart, you can’t admit to desire. That’s why my cover repurposes itself as “Trial by Barbed Wire.” Please note the subtitle. This is not a book about love or desire. It’s a book about exclusion and semiotics.

But, of course, one can’t judge a book by its front cover. That would just be gauche. One must see the back cover copy, too.

(You might need to click on the graphic to read what it says.)

But there you have it, in plain black–er, blue–and white: People who are merely intelligent read for pleasure. But you’d have to be a real genius to read for the mind-numbing pain.

(and for those of you who are following along at home, the sarcasm tag goes off…now.)

If you would like to win a copy of Trial by Barbed Wire, just let me know in the comments section by Wednesday. One lucky person will get the recovered-Trial by Desire. And if you want to download and print your very own personal book cover, so that you, too, can impress random people on the subway, the file is here. Directions on how to use it are here.


40 thoughts on “Cover-up, part two

  1. LOL! Well, it’s not quite as shocking as the cover of Proof by Seduction where the heroine was enjoying herself *all alone*

  2. HAHAHAHA, Courtney, I love how you have alternate covers for your books. And they are always so enjoyable to see and read. I just want to print this one out and use it on any book, but your book will do.

    I’m a huge fan of ninjas though. I don’t know what I’d do with ninja neutral-ness. It just seems so….wrong.


  3. I almost never read ninja-neutral discourses, but for Trial By Barbed Wire, I shall endeavor. I’m nothing if not a product of my shallow and effete times.

    (I love that cover!)

  4. I can’t claim to be a genius but this whole endeavor is well, genius! And I’m always up for something that rivals that spectacularly interesting read, the CFR (*shudder* at the thought of those volumes on the law school library shelf!)

  5. Please sign me up for this. I desperately need a good coffee table book so others will think me intelligent. 😉

  6. Your barb wired cover has a phallic symbol on it! You are corrupting the young romance readers! How dare you.

    Or is it just a cactus? Nope, a woody. yes, I am on to you missy!

  7. This is so clever–and funny. But Katiebabs is right about that phallic symbol. Really, you should be photo shopping that, um, log out of there immediately! LOL

  8. Lol, now you actually made me curious about how that other book would be 😉 Would totally use that cover and show others what a little miss smartypants I am

  9. I don’t know what you guys are trying to say, but phalluses have to be literary. After all, men have them.

    Now, if I put an iris on the cover, THAT would be suspect!

  10. But but but but… what if the one I want to read if Trial by Desire? What if I am one of those people who read for pleasure and who want to read about people enjoying themselves? (yes, euphemism right there, thank you). What if I’m shallow like that, huh?

    What about me????


  11. I have no intelligent comments to add to the discourse. Love the alternate cover. I may just have to print it out and make it my default book cover. Yeah, that the ticket!

  12. Oh, oh, I want a recovered-Trial by Desire! I’m totally printing that, though if I don’t win.

    “This work is truer than fiction, and yet manages to be as appealing as the Code of Federal Regulations.”

    LOL! Really, why bother with fiction if you’re not fiction-ing up something enjoyable?

    Also, I think your hot guy is moonlighting as a painter on somebody else’s book.

  13. Sign me up. I’ll be busy debating whether to call the other librarian over to show her this. (Looking at author pages while on the reference desk is legitimate research, right?)

  14. This puts me in a moral dilemma. Do I print out the recover for the sheer humor value, or do I stick with the unwholesome “enjoyment” cover? After all, I am nothing if not a fan of unwholesomeness, but come on! The fence rusts a little!

  15. SylviaSybil, the solution is simple (and one that I employ).

    You print out the alternate cover, frame it, and place it next to a photo of a kitten. Then you carry around the regular cover, flaunting it proudly.

    At least, that’s what I suggest!

  16. Loved your commentary. Stigma against our genre of preference seems to be a favorite past-time of many. I don’t understand why books lauded by so-called critics should deserve more recognition than others. Everyone has different tastes. I would also love to win Trial by Desire in its proclamation-of-its-own-importance cover!

  17. Sarah, I am not sure. Luckily, I do not have to think about topping this for another five months, when my next book comes out!

    And Rosie, I am so with you! I just don’t get what the disconnect is between enjoyment and thought. Who are these people, who can’t think and laugh at the same time?

  18. Rereading my comment made me realize I put the quote marks on enjoyment instead of unwholesome. Obviously, I meant to be sarcastic about the perceived trashiness of fun and sensuality.

    Courtney, I have no shame. I’ll read any kind of “nasty” cover in public, and proudly. So I think I’ll settle for emailing the funny cover around and leave my book naked and unashamed. 🙂

    Rosie, I’ve found that many people who put down the romance genre have never read one and base their assumptions off what other people have told them. Frex my uncle reads westerns and gushes about how well the complicated relationships and true love storylines are done, but dismisses romances as “girl porn” in the same breath. I know he’d love romance if he would just try one, but he’s convinced he already knows what they’re like and sees no need to test his assumptions.

    I used to be one of those people who dismissed the genre as soap opera crap (without ever trying it) until I read a list of popular romance novels. “That’s one of my favorite books…and that…and that…holy smoke, I’ve been reading romance all along! Maybe it’s not all trash after all.”

  19. LOL, I loved it when you did this for Proof by Seduction. Though the covers are usually not a problem for me as I only read when I am at home. I think my favorite part is the nose bleed critical acclaim.

    Thanks for this, it made my morning. I love stopping by your blog, not only to learn about your books, but just to read your posts, much like I stop by at Jill Shalvis’s for the same reason. Have a good one and can’t wait for Trial by Desire!

  20. I’m too . . . something to flaunt romance novels proudly. 🙁 I think I would flaunt this re-cover though. People would be all “what are you reading?” And I’d say “look, it’s got this crazy cover but it’s really this cool book underneath.” Then if they turned their noses up I could be all superior and say “you just don’t get the irony.”

    [They would think that’s a crazy cover, right? Because that would really backfire if they liked the re-cover!]

  21. Count me in, please! I know I will love the book…and the cover–I’m mesmerized by the blueness of the blue….

  22. I confess, I have not yet developed the thick skin/don’t care attitude needed to ride public transportation daily with a romance novel cover brandished in all its glory. Also I live in Washington, DC so looking like you’re reading something boring and erudite is as important as making sure that you left the house with pants on. So I could really use it!

  23. Funny, funny girl. Photoshop much?

    Very late to the comments, but had to say thank you for the big laugh you gave me this Wednesday. I was led here by the comments thread for LP’s review over at Dear Author and will definitely be bookmarking your blog for future reading. If you’re checking the comment thread there I will admit to being the one with the snarky voyeur comment. Sorry, Ned’s laser beam stare made me do it. I also posted a cover art rant/query on Dear Author’s October reader thread, but no one has come out to play yet and I’m beginning to feel like “that kid”.

    This alternacover is even better than the one for Proof by Seduction. The suggestive imagery; the obscure yet pretentious subject matter; the depressive coloration. Who wouldn’t be proud to flaunt that cover. I’d say your talents are wasted in writing but that is not at all true.

    Looking forward to my bright shiny download of Trial by Desire on Friday and charmed at this glimpse into the inner workings of the mind of Courtney Milan (Milan like the city or Mile-an, I wonder). Perhaps a pronunciation guide for your next cover-up?

    P.S. Ms. Warren seems to be a selective time traveler.

  24. Lynn,

    No worries on the snark. When I saw the cover the first thing that popped into my mind was not “Wow, that really looks exactly how I envisioned Ned.” The response has been REALLY love/hate and I’m into that. I’d rather have people talking smack about my cover than not talking about my book at all! And it’s even better if people disagree, which they do.

    The name pronunciation: whatever you feel like. When I first picked it as a name, I pronounced it My-linn. Everybody else pronounced it like the city. And it seemed uber-pretentious to say, “Hey, guys, you are mispronouncing my made up name!” So I decided I was wrong and they were right. But I’m obviously not picky.

    Just call me Courtney. Or CM.

  25. Courtney,

    The cover is striking and visibility is a key factor with all the rows and rows of books out there vying for attention. Darn, I think I just fessed up to the marketers knowing what that are doing. Good luck with your sales.

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