Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Behind the Butterfly

Okay, so I've had several people ask me if there are butterflies in my book.

Short answer: no.

Long answer: no. The image on the cover of my book is metaphoric. Iconic. You know, this beautiful thing that's been taken and frozen in ice. Unable to progress, yet unable to die too. It's lovely, haunting.

And that's it.

So quick question: Is this okay with you? Would you feel cheated if you opened the book and didn't even see the word butterfly? (I just did a search of my word doc. "Butterfly" is not present, not even once.) Or are metaphoric covers acceptable--even desirable?

94 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I was always sure that the cover was metamorphical, and I fell in love with it. I would be disappointed if it turns out there are butterflies in it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm totally fine with it being metamorphic. It makes your story deeper.

BTW, the WriteOnCon chat with Sara Megibow was awesome. I'd love to have her as an agent.

Cheree said...

I like the metaphoric elements, it definitely adds more depth to the story. And, I love your cover, very elegant yet mysterious.

Christina Lee said...

Well, sure. Absolutely! I figured the cover was metaphoric (goes along with the title--Possession).

Matthew Rush said...

As long as it looks really cool (like here) it doesn't have to mean a damn thing as far as I'm concerned.

IanBontems said...

With a cover as awesome as that one, I wouldn't be bothered in the slightest if it had/n't actual butterflies in the story.

lynnrush said...

Oh, sure. Metaphoric covers are just fine. I wouldn't feel cheated just because there weren't butterflies in the story at all.

Renae said...

I will not feel cheated in the slightest. I love the concept and can't wait to read it!

Tracy Loewer said...

You've got an awesome cover. I love that it stands out against the covers with pictures of a model on them.

Also: Metaphoric FTW!

Nomes said...

i love this cover and for some reason it never even crossed my mind that there would be butterflies in it :)

And, did i mention I love this cover? can't wait to see it in the flesh.

Lydia Sharp said...

Hmmm... that's a beautiful metaphor, but yeah, I was kind of expecting at least a little scene involving a butterfly, or reference to a butterfly, at some point. Either way the cover is awesome, though. The white is very refreshing; too many dark covers in YA.

Kelly said...

Yeah, I never thought that there really were butterflies in your book, so I'm good. :) I think it's a beautiful, yet intriguing image.

Kristi said...

I love the image on your cover and would actually be disappointed if there WERE butterflies in your book. ;-)

Not that there's anything wrong with butterflies...there's not, but the metaphor loses something if it's too literal I think.

Christine Fonseca said...

Hugs - love your cover...regardless! And I've heard nothing but good things re writeoncon. Glad it was fab!

Em-Musing said...

The image is intriguing to make me want to pick up the book and read the first page. Your story is the surprise that waits.

Laura Pauling said...

Butterflies are always metaphoric. And knowing a bit about your story I never thought it was dystopian world filled with butterflies. :)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I won't feel cheated. I thought the cover was metaphorical as well. :)

lotusgirl said...

I like for covers that go with the story to match the details of the story (e.g. if there's a person on the cover representing the MC, she should have the same characteristics as in the book--brown hair, stubby nose, whatever--I feel duped if they don't), but metaphors are a different breed. I think your cover is cool and wouldn't necessarily think there are butterflies in the book.

Michelle McLean said...

I love your cover, it's gorgeous metaphorical or otherwise :D

What bugs me about covers is when they depict something that IS in the book, but don't do it correctly. If there WERE butterflies in your book, but they were bright yellow instead of blue, THAT would bug me :D I think if they are going to go through all the trouble of depicting an element of the book, at least do it right.

Metaphorical works just fine :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love metaphoric covers. And yours is so pretty I want the hardback version instead of the Kobo (black and white) version. ;)

Even if it means I have to wait longer to get it.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

The title already says no butterflies. Totally ok with it because it is cover love at first sight! It's a simple image yet complicated at the same time. If I went to the bookstore it would pull me in for sure. :)

Summer said...

Like the others, I always assumed the cover was metaphorical. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed--look how popular the Twilight novels are, and all those covers are in the metaphorical range.

Personally, I take the cover jacket off right away when I read, and then I put it back on for the shelf. I'm a visual person, but I guess once I start reading the novel, the characters and story becomes much more pre-eminent in my mind than the visual representation.

Jen Chandler said...

I prefer cover art that's metaphorical or symbolic more so than straight forward.

In fact, I pretty much assume anything with a butterfly on it is symbolic :) I see symbols in everything. Perhaps I've read too much Dan Brown...

Cheers!
Jen

Linda Kage said...

I don't feel cheated. I love the cover of Twilight and I don't recall any significant apples in the book. I wasn't like HEY, WHERE'S THE APPLE either.

Elana Johnson said...

Great point about the Twilight cover. I'd forgotten about those (and I even just went through my bookshelves and saw them).

And whew, I'm glad you guys got the metaphor. :)

Susanne Winnacker said...

I wouldn't feel cheated. I love your cover and I didn't think there were any butterflies in your book. I love your cover because it is metaphoric, because it makes you think.

Mesmerix said...

All a cover needs to do is make me go, "Huh, that's cool" and pick the book up. The writing determines whether I love or hate the story, whether I'm disappointed or inspired. The cover's only purpose it to make me open it and read on.

Stephen Tremp said...

I would not feel cheated. I get the metaphorical thing when I see book covers. Lovely and haunting. Great premise for a great story. I really like it.

Eleven Eleven said...

I read books for theme, so I could totally dig the beautiful creature trapped in ice idea, but without even a similie about ice or butterflies, I'd feel cheated. I like cover tie-ins to be strong, represent the main theme both in idea and in imagery. Even an off-hand mention of a refrigerated chrysalis would do it for me.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I was actually hoping that your cover was more metaphoric. I love the idea of a character being trapped, a little scary, but still alive, not that I have anything against butterflies. I really love your cover.

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss elana! that butterfly is neat for the cover.i just learned about metaphors so for me i like this lots and how it says something without having to be in the book. looks like lot of people are ok with it so you did a real good choice.
...smiles from lenny

B.E. Sanderson said...

Metaphoric covers are fine with me. It's an awesome picture, btw, and I can totally get the metaphor. =o)

Emily White said...

I think you're cover is perfect! Even though the actual cover is on a white background, it seems so dark and eerie. I love how the trapped butterfly represents this hopelessness, but then you look and see the ice is melting and you realize there's hope after all.

Okay, maybe I think too deeply about this stuff, but that's what I got out of it.

Lois D. Brown said...

I for one am crushed to learn there is not a single mention of butterflies in your book. I was fully expecting an expose of the mating customs of the monarch. Like how the female butterfly eats the male after giving birth to ... what do butterflies give birth to anyway? Wow, I'm realizing I know very little about butterflies.
Anyhow, I was just going to mention there is very little mention of apples in Twilight and that seemed to work just fine. Your cover is beautiful.

Marisa Hopkins said...

I won't feel cheated. I'll just be super excited that it will FINALLY be time to read your book - butterfly or no.

Krista said...

Not to brag OR ANYTHING, but I TOTALLY got the metaphor and thought it was stunning! YAY AWESOME BOOK COVERS!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I think it's fine to have metaphors. It's done all the time. The only reason I asked is because it's a normally orange Monarch butterfly altered to blue and put on your cover, and well, I have a book coming out that will have a red/orange Monarch butterfly on the cover and it's all about butterflies. Your cover is beautiful! Mine will have a butterfly and a dead person, probably. Probably not as pretty. :)

Regina said...

I think you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. lol If you read the book jacket and it interests you and you want to read it then that is what you do. The book cover is meant to be beautiful and get your attention. It doesn't necessarily describe what's inside the book. I am good with it. It is beautiful.

j.leigh.bailey said...

I love the cover, even if there are no butterflies in the novel. Given the title and premise of the book, I think the cover is perfect. :)

lbdiamond said...

I love metaphorical images. It's always so impressive to me how people develop these ideas. I'm not disappointed--I'm impressed! :D

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Nope. I wouldn't feel cheated at all. I assumed it was, ya know, metaphoric. Or iconic. Something deep and meaningful and intellectual. :-)

Meredith said...

Oh, wow, I love that metaphor--so cool! I would not be confused by no butterflies in the book, so I don't think you need to worry :) It's just such a gorgeous cover!

Tere Kirkland said...

Heh, I never thought there was a butterfly in the book. What I saw was the symbolism behind it, which I think works with the title in a very iconic manner.

Now, if there was a "scene" on the cover, like a girl with butterflies around her, then, yeah, I'd expect butterflies, and possibly expect them to have a pivotal role, with the cover showing an important actual scene.

I'm glad covers have evolved past the point where they have to be covered with people, or are an artist's interpretation of an author's synopsis—which is often all they get to read before they go to work. I think publishing houses have realized exactly how unsatisfying it is to readers when covers don't match what they see as they read.

I would love an iconic cover like this, and I'm so glad you're happy with it.

Jen Daiker said...

I love the cover selected for your book, and I have to say that when analyzing the cover I didn't even think about an actual butterfly.

I thought more along the lines of what it represented. Your story is all about control, Violet must break out of her shell out of the mold of who she was SUPPOSED to be into what she believes is who she SHOULD be.

Metaphorical all the way baby :)

Erin Kane Spock said...

Metaphoric is fine. I would not feel mislead. The cover art is stunning, btw.
If it was literal, then what? The lead would open the fridge to get an ice cube and find a one with a butterfly encased? That would only work multiple other life frozen ice forms followed, and then we'd have a clue about a sociopath... and it all goes downhill from there.

Colene Murphy said...

Not mislead in the least! I love this cover because of exactly how you described it. And from what I know of your book, it fits so well. Love it!

lisanowak said...

Oh man! No butterflies? That's the whole reason I read your blog. If there's no butterflies, I'm not buying the book. I feel so cheated!!!!!

Seriously, it's a cool cover.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Doesn't bother me call me shallow but I just want a beautiful cover! I am sometimes bothered if the cover gives me a completely difference sense of the book. Like a dark haunting cover and the book is a zany, light comedy.

Melody said...

I never thought for a moment that the book was about butterflies. It makes total sense with the tagline and title.

I like the cover. I get it entirely. Actually, that little graphic tells more about the story than some random picture of a girl or cityscape.

Tina Lynn said...

All I'm going to say is, "Dude! If they can't read the 'Control or be controlled' and figure out the butterfly is metaphoric, they might not be at the YA reading level yet."

E.J. Wesley said...

Reminds me of a movie.

"That's a painting of me taking the bull by the horns ... it's a metaphor. But I really did it." ~ Ben Stiller - Dodgeball

I think the metaphor cover is fine so long as it is a connection the reader can easily make by the end of the story. To be completely honest, I rarely go back to look at the cover post-read to see how accurately it depicts the goings-on in the story.

NiaRaie said...

I thought that the butterfly might have a small, but meaningful role in the story. But its' absence doesn't disappointment me. I love metaphorical covers. Much more than human beings acting out an actual scene or something.

Quinn said...

I agree with Michelle McClean ... the only type of cover that pisses me off is when they try to depict a scene from thebooks and do it wrong. I thnk metaphoric covers are great. I'm a little tired of the model covers. And your cover is amazing!

Krispy said...

I'd only feel cheated if the cover had nothing to do with the book or completely misrepresented what the book is about. Metaphorical is fine, and I always thought your cover was metaphorical.

Amie Kaufman said...

I adore the cover, never assumed there would be a butterfly, and had already come up with my own guess at the meaning of the image on the cover--I got it right!

I think covers like this are wonderful. They get you thinking, guessing, and reading to see if you're right!

Tamika: said...

I love the cover, and I love butterflies! It doesn't matter to me in the least there are no butterflies in the story. It gives me a lot of intrigue to pick up the book, and that's what matters:)

Write Chick said...

I love things being metaphorical, both as a reader and as a teacher. If I could wax analytical for a moment, let me divulge why.
I always have to teach reading groups, and it's gret when something makes them infer. I love when covers of books make them think in a deeper way about the text inside. Your cover definitely would do that.
Other than that, however, I just love your cover because it's beautiful and interesting. And you question why that butterfly is trapped in ice.
So Awesome!

Lola Sharp said...

I assumed it was metaphorical, and I LOVE this cover. It says so much in such a small space, and it's graphically stunning.

Jenn Wilks said...

I think even if someone did assume on first glance that there were butterflies in the book, by the time they read it, they would totally get the metaphor and wouldn't feel jipped in the LEAST.

And you know how I feel about your cover. So I don't have to repeat myself and say that it ROCKS and is, like, the best cover ever, and that the image is hauntingly beautiful and that I'm jealous because there's no way any cover of any book of mine will ever be so beautiful. Well, I didn't say I wouldn't repeat myself - I just said I didn't /have/ to. ;o)

Elle said...

Wouldn't feel cheated at all. A lot of covers have metaphorical images, or images that do not have anything directly to do with the book. I'd see a pretty cover but I don't think it would even cross my mind once engrossed in the story.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'll forgive you the lack o' butterfly if you'll forgive me for the pseudonym. ;)

I like metaphorical covers. I like wondering how it applies to the story. Sometimes, a cover like yours speaks a lot louder than a picture of people doing stuff. ;)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Totally acceptable. I never thought to think (!!) there would be a butterfly. The image of a creature that changes but is unable to change is very powerful and tells a lot about your story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

For the genres I read, I like the cover to represent the story, but metaphorical is all right with me.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I actually thought it was metaphorical when I first saw it. And I like that kind of thing.

Jonathon Arntson said...

For people who have not read your book, it's intriguing. For those who have, it makes perfect sense and is, like you said, haunting.

Cassie said...

Are you kidding me? The cover is GORGEOUS, butterflies in the book or not!

Marieke said...

I love the butterfly! Even more as metaphor!

SWK said...

That image is gorgeous, arresting and thought-provoking. I'd grab the book off the shelf without even reading the title, so I think the internal absence of the word butterfly is a non-problem! - Stasia

The Golden Eagle said...

I always thought it was a metaphor, since, based on what I'd read about your book previously, it didn't seem to connect with butterflies.

I LOVE metaphorical covers, though! This one is awesome, even though it doesn't directly match the words inside.

Moonwillow said...

I love butterflies, so in this case I might have been disappointed if the story didn't revolve around butterflies somehow. However, if the story piqued my interest, I would read it!

Jeff King said...

I like it.

KarenG said...

I like metaphorical covers. They make me think. I think yours is beautiful and sparkly, it's lovely. Who cares about butterflies anyway? Butterflies are overrated.

Sara B. Larson said...

I think as long as it makes sense, it's lovely. WHich it sounds like yours does, and I love your cover, so you're good! :)

Mary said...

Metaphoric is great. I wouldn't have given the idea of butterflies a considerations.

Lisa_Gibson said...

I think metaphorical covers are awesome! The title of my just finished YA novel is Pig & Twig (I know it may not remain that), but I'm hoping they wouldn't put a pig or a twig on the cover. They're metaphorical terms anyway. lol :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Hannah Kincade said...

I feel so cheated I'm going to stuff my face tonight full of mini reeses peanut butter cups...okay, i was going to do that anyway.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like the cover to bear some meaning. If I pick up a book that features a dragon on the cover, there darn well better be a dragon IN the book! (Fortunately when I picked up Red Dragon, I'd already seen Manhunter and knew the book wasn't about dragons. As long as I know ahead of time, I'm okay.)

Gail said...

It is beautiful and it is known, you can't tell a book by its cover.

VR Barkowski said...

Yes. It's more than okay. I assumed it was metaphorical. It never occurred to me the story might be about a butterfly suspended in an ice cube.

Butterfly suspended in an ice cube... Wow, there's a 'what if' waiting to happen.

Theresa Milstein said...

I wasn't expecting a butterfly. I got the metaphor.

Most covers give an essence of the book but they can only tell you so much.

Shannon said...

I got the metaphor, but now that you mention no butterflies, I think I want one. Totally kidding. =) It's a gorgeous cover.

Anita Saxena said...

Love the cover! And in general I like simple metaphorical covers that don't always have a closeup picture of the protag.

Emy Shin said...

I am perfectly fine with metaphorical covers, and did not actually expect your book to have a butterfly in it at all, even before reading this. :)

Melissa said...

For me, the metaphor cover makes me love the book MORE. It's brilliant and makes the message stronger and clearer. Now, I know what I'm getting into on a deeper level.

Pam Torres said...

I read books for themes. Many times I haven't understood a cover completely until after reading the book. That is when I slowly close the book, hold it gently in my hands and looking at the cover let the power of the theme resonate. Awesome!

Jemi Fraser said...

Zero problem with metaphorical covers - and I love this one :)

Jodi Henry said...

Judging a book by it's cover. Isn't that cliche?

Covers are, after all, an artists vision of the book they have been hired to do and not the author's interpretation of their own work.

I think the cover is beautiful and would pick it up if I saw it at my local B&N, but the writing is what I would judge.

J

WritingNut said...

It's so beautiful, and I love that it's metaphoric :)

I love covers where you can wonder and analyze, and at the end of the book, you can look at them and think "Yes, that totally makes sense!"

Peggy said...

Acceptable and desirable. LOVE it.

Liesl said...

I love it. I think I prefer the metaphoric, in both titles and art. Your cover reminds me of The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I don't think there are butterflies in that one either.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I prefer metaphoric cover art. Characters and places form part of the material of which a story is made, but they're not what the story is about. I like covers that tell us what the story is about. (Representative cover art can be good, too, but I usually don't prefer it.)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Your cover is awesome, breathless, beautiful. I tend to love most covers whether they are about something specific to the book or the more metaphorical ones.

Claire Dawn said...

I am depressingly non-visual. I might not even notice there's a butterfly.

Charity Bradford said...

I love metaphors. And just think, people may associate your book with butterflies after they read it simply because of the suggestion. People, thinking of your book, any time they see butterflies...

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