18 Comments

  1. Bang. You hit a bulls-eye in something I’ve felt but never tried to express in words, even to myself. It does feel wrong when an author’s name is seemingly more important than the title of the books. Whether it’s truth or not (I haven’t read enough books with that author/title format to know) it does seem to say that the story/book is almost incidental. How can it be (or how sad it is) that the mind behind a creation is the primary attribute of the creation. …come to think of it… the same thing happens in the art world, where anyone will buy a Picasso, even if it’s a bad Picasso…

    • Yes! Oh, don’t even get me started on the art world. Jackson Pollock? Pfffft. I’m not of the opinion that “anything can be art.” It has to be beautiful and/or have a specific meaning (it can’t just be open to interpretation) to be art. It’s particularly depressing walking through a modern art museum, looking at canvases with single stripes of color across them and then seeing that the artists didn’t even bother to title them. The work speaks for itself by saying absolutely nothing.

      • I’m a little less …uh… strict? than you are with the visual arts. What I look for most is visual interest and evidence that the artist really thought it out and took the effort to execute it well. There are many works that have a specific meaning, quite obvious to any viewer, that are still crap (I can say that here, right?), while others are beautiful but obviously lazy creations, like my masks, which have very little thought behind them but are still visually pleasing. True Art, in my opinion, is a marriage between concept and execution, which goes for literature as well. Many people would disagree with me, though.

        I do, however, agree that a lot of what goes for modern art is over-rated. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And the cult of personality drives it far, far too much. 😛

        • I think I agree with you (and yes you can say crap); the marriage of both sides is what makes true art. I think there should be another word for, I don’t know, lower forms of art? Like that guy who just does exhibits of color. He makes these giant, concave objects that are each one color, and when you stand in front of them you feel like you’re enveloped in the color. People have gone to these exhibits and actually cried, presumably because they’ve never really appreciated individual colors before. Now, I think this is worthy of note as it makes people look at “ordinary” things in a new way, makes them appreciate the beauty of creation on a very basic yet powerful level. He didn’t really create anything, but he’s showing people something in a new way. That needs another word besides “art.” Maybe just another descriptor, but I don’t think “modern” is it either. Perspectivist art, or fresh perspectivism, or something.

  2. I was recently in Boston and viewed the rare book exhibit on Daniel Defoe and I was surprised by the fact that the authors name was rarely on the title page or cover. Though they did usually say from the author of… Even back then in the infancy of novels for mass production. As always I loved your post.

    Keep them coming.
    Ray

    • Really? Rarely even on the cover. That’s so cool. Oh, you know what would be brilliant? A first novel whose cover simply said “A Book You’ve Never Read by an Author You’ve Never Heard Of.”

  3. The arts have become a cult of personality. It makes me sad for all the passionate artists and writers whose name meant nothing while they were alive, or for 19th-century women writers forced to conceal their identities. It goes for all the arts—how many times have you endured a cinematic stinker because the cover said Clooney or Kidman.

    Many of these household-name authors are writing under slick, anglicized pseudonyms, which further reinforces the brand rather than the product. Ah, how the font-size gauge of fame can fool your following.

    Did you design that last photo, or is it a real book? Because it’s worth a shot…why not.

    • Definitely too many unknown geniuses trying to make it in a world of formulaic celebrities, even nowadays. At least the Internet and the wider acceptance of self publishing is giving more people a greater chance.

      On the movie note, though, I admit I’m more likely to see a movie with a big name actor. Part of it is the thought “If they can afford X person, it must be a decent movie,” and part of it is “I liked him in Y and Z, so it’s reasonable to assume the movies he chooses to be in are ones I’ll like.” But it certainly doesn’t always work out.

      Yes, I designed the last book cover. Only took me about 15 minutes, which makes me wonder how much publishers pay graphic designers to come up with theirs. I was rather proud of of realistic-looking it turned out!

  4. Agree. For me it’s movie ads that only show the headline actor, doing nothing but standing there. Sometimes it’s just their face. Ugh.

    • Mmmm. Yes, good point! I feel like I’ve seen a few trailers recently that just bragged about the MANY big actors they had, but never really got to the synopsis. I’m like “Yes, but what is it about???”

  5. I’m definitely with you on this, Steph! It drives me mad. It’s almost like the author’s name is trying to outshine the book itself.

  6. Spot on! I discussed this with my wife some time ago. It is the forcing on us of celebrity; ‘Hey! I wrote another book – the last one sold millions – don’t ya just wanna buy another one?’

    I always judge a book by its cover (well, initially). The title grabs me, and the imagery – not the author’s name. Looks like we’re in the minority.

    Another great post! Thanks Steph.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I feel like coming up with a great title and cover art are part of making a great book. Which makes it even more concerning that publishers usually have the final say on both. You’ll have to wonder if they’re really making the decision based on what’s best for the book or because that’s what everything else in the genre looks like?

      I tell you, independent publishing is looking better every day.

      Hey, welcome back! It’s been awhile.

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