Friday, November 5, 2010

Cover Question: WIll teen boys pick this one up...

...or has the publisher just released a book with a male teen protagonist that is really aimed at female readers? Here's the description from the pub:

Across four sun-kissed drama-drenched summers at his family's beach house, Chase tries to come to grips with his family's slow dissolution while also finding himself in a chaotic love triangle, pitted against his own brother in pursuit of the girl next door. Invincible Summer is a gritty, sexy, page-turning read from a talented teenaged author that readers won't want to miss.

Or is this a cover that boys will actually love?

[Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz, due from S&S on April 19, 2011.]


Doret said...

Has the cover been released? If so I can't find it.

Colleen said...

It's due out in April so you're right - it could change before then. This is the book as it was depicted in the catalog though, and I grabbed the image online (googled the title and it came up).

david elzey said...

well, this is an interesting take on the headless torso photo cover. and it's that missing head that kills it.

let me channel my inner boy for a moment, or one of the dozens i used to see hit the magazine racks during lunchtime when i worked at a major chain. we were half a block away from a high school and the boys would flock to the newsstand and pick up MAXIM and FHM and eat chips and sodas while pretending to read the magazines in these verge-of-soft-core publications. the fact that these mags used scantly clad women and arrogant machismo articles to sell eyeballs to advertisers is no mystery. it seems like a solid foundation for attracting teen readers as well, yes?

the problem is that these photos work because there is a face to go with the bodies. you need eyes looking right at the male viewer, a seductive gaze or an inviting expression. and the headlines of the articles need to promise something the reader wants, even if it's impossible to obtain: harder abs, unfailing pick-up lines, whatever. invitation and promise, those are the necessary elements when going for a "sex sells" approach.

now look at that cover again. no face, so no chance for connection, no invitation to the reader. heck, at that angle, the headless torso isn't even facing the potential readers, so the psychology is that she's looking at someone else. i'm not good enough? forget you, book!

and that title, what's going on there? is summer the name of the protagonist, and if so, and she's invincible, whoa! that says "hands off" right there. there's no promise in those words -- rather bland i have to say -- and the title and image don't add up to anything. you want those two things to work together in a way that sells the story without the blurb.

now, if that publisher's blurb is jacket flap copy, then it's poison. boy reads it's about a love triangle and they're interested, but then the cold water comes when they read a teen girl who wrote it. sorry, but that screams "my romantic diary" that no teen boy wants to read. also, "sun-kissed" and "drama-drenched" sound more like romance novel language. in other words, yawn.

can my inner 16 year old pick a few more nits here? girl on the beach, the word gritty, not sexy when combined. like irritating sand in your bathing suit, you know? and sexy, that's not a boy word. sex is a promise, sexy is a tease. that's boythink for you.

nope, everything about this reads as a classic female fantasy of a boy-centric book. it may be a spicier vein of the "impossible boyfriend" sub-genre, or simply "boys fighting over the girl" fantasy novel, but this is no book for boys on any level.

so to flip the question: will teen girls pick up this one? yes. everything about it screams "not for boys" the way boys steer clear of cosmo despite the sexy covers. boys know this is not for them, and they're right.

Colleen said...

I was really puzzled by the "sun-kissed" bit also and the emphasis on the teen author. And I agree that if that's on the dust jacket, it's totally doomed. "Sun-kissed" is totally out of a romance novel but they usually have beefcake on the cover so it's all just...well, it's hard to understand.

I can't figure out at all what they were thinking with this one. There's a solid disconnect on every level dealing with this cover.

Doret said...

Maybe its because its late and I had a long day at work but it took me a minute to realize which end was which on the model.

Do I think boys will pick this one up? Noo

Its very hard to sell boys on books with girls on the cover. Since YA covers are dominated with girls.

Chances are this book will displayed with books many boys wouldn't want to be seen close to.
Like books with pink covers

The brothers should've have been on the cover, no girl.

And yes the book is doomed with boy reader if sun kissed part is on the book flap inside or out.

I wonder why pubilshers are so willingly to forgo a larger readership with their cover choices.

Sarah Stevenson said...

I had that problem too, Doret! It took me an embarrassingly long minute to figure out which end was which, and this is coming from someone who does a lot of figure drawing. :)

I see David's point, but I also wonder if guys gravitate more towards covers that don't feature "cover models" at all, faceless or otherwise. I am not a guy, but if I were a guy (huh...that sounds weird...) and if I cared about what was on the cover, I'd probably gravitate more towards purely graphic-designed covers without images, or covers with objects, or illustrated artwork like on classic fantasy and sci-fi books.

I associate pictures/photos of teenagers doing "teenage things" with series fiction and books marketed to girls, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I hate to add to the list, but the name Chase is a rule out. It's a soap opera name, a romance novel name. Ultimately, it's a name your teenage Sam or Jim will have a hard time identifying with.

Colleen said...

I didn't even think of "Chase" but you're right - more like a name a girl likes for a boy then an actual boy name?

Hmmm. Does anyone know a "Chase"?

david elzey said...

does chase manhattan bank count?

though, to be fair, teen readers apparently do like unique character names, among other things.

here's a short list from some teen readers about what they like.

at least chase is better than damien.

hannah moskowitz said...

I doubt anyone will see this--I wish I'd seen this post last month!--but I thought I'd weigh in. I'm the author of Invincible Summer--awesome to see it discussed!

The cover is final. And you might be right--boys might not be drawn to it. But it's so hard to get guys into the YA section these days anyway, and there isn't any hard evidence on what kinds of covers they like. We're still playing around trying to figure out what will make a guy pick up a book, and IS is probably part of that playing around.

I used to picture male audience when I wrote my books--this is back when I wrote IS. Now I picture boys and girls, because the reality is that the audience is going to be mostly female. So we have to make sure they'll pick it up. If marketing it as a sexy summer romance will do it? Then I'm game.

Chase is named after an actual boy I know. ;)

I totally agree about "sunkissed," and that (or any of the blurb, including the part about me being a teenager) is not the real cover copy, which is this:


"Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?"

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart.


It's way more about the brothers than about the girl. She's just a complication. But if putting a topless girl on the cover will sell copies--whether to boys or to girls--I'm all for it.

Hope someone finds that interesting, and thanks again for drawing attention to the book.

hannah moskowitz said...

I...completely missed that the word "sun-kissed" is still in there. I'm sufficiently embarrassed, don't worry.

david elzey said...

But it's so hard to get guys into the YA section these days anyway, and there isn't any hard evidence on what kinds of covers they like...

i can't imagine anyone who would do the research for conclusive evidence, but as a former bookseller both in a major chain and later in a children's specialty bookstore i have observed LOTS boys of various ages, and noted their reactions, and i've compared notes with other booksellers, and i promise you, covers matter. big time.

the only hard evidence i could imagine would be comparing sales with intended audience as buyers, and no one has that information on any book.

hannah moskowitz said...

sweet, thanks for the insight.

what I've heard a lot is that most boys who read YA read spec--so, fantasy, sci fi, stuff like that. It's harder to draw them over to contemporary.