Let's Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

Critters on the Covers…

July 27, 2023

Book cover artwork is both the joy and bane of authors. This can be a particular issue in the cozy genre where cute is the default and cats are ubiquitous, sometimes even when the book doesn’t have a single feline in it. Fortunately for me, all my books with cats on the cover are indeed cat cozies. And the cover cats all resemble the books’ feline characters (fairly simple for the artists as the kitties in question are all black domestic shorthairs).

But I am equal opportunity when it comes to critters as secondary characters. My Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series was followed by the Leonardo da Vinci Mystery series. Book two, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, includes an Italian Greyhound named Pio who is based on my now-departed Iggy, Ranger (and who was immortalized on the book’s front cover). Pio also appeared in the third Leonardo book, A BOLT FROM THE BLUE. While the anatomy of the Italian Greyhound on the cover wasn’t perfect despite the photos I sent, the doggo definitely resembles Pio/Ranger.

Next up came the Tarot Cat Mystery series and a switch back to, you guessed it, felines. Simultaneously, I started writing the Georgia B&B Mystery series. The latter books feature a canine secondary character, Matilda. All well and good, but for some reason things went a bit wonky when it came to the cover design of the B&B books.

Matilda a/k/a Mattie is an Australian Shepherd described as a blue merle–a multicolored coat that is a mixture of gray, white, black, and tan—with floppy ears and the traditional bobbed tail. The first sketches I saw of the cover for book one, PEACH CLOBBERED, included a cute Mattie front and center, and seemed on point. So color me shocked when I received my author copies only to discover that the final rendition of the dog looked more like a border collie…black and white with pricked ears and complete with a big fluffy tail!

I discussed this at length with my editor and grudgingly agreed that, for continuity’s sake, we should keep the border collie Mattie as our cover dog for subsequent books. And the next two covers were great, no matter that the dog was wrong…a fact pointed out to me by more than one reader, so that I finally added a disclaimer to my website! Then, last month, came the mass market paperback version of PEACH CLOBBERED, complete with a brand-new cover. This time, I was pleased to see that Mattie was properly an Australian Shepherd. Unfortunately, she also was a red merle with a coat that was a mixture of red and copper and white.

I’m not quite sure why properly depicting Mattie on my book covers continues. Maybe the publishing gods are telling me I should stick with cat cozies. Maybe, but right now I’m working on book 4 in the Georgia B&B Mystery series (working title SCARED PEACHLESS). And have no doubt, Mattie the Aussie will still be in the thick of the action along with my human characters.

The mass market paperback of PEACH CLOBBERED (with the red merle version of Mattie the Aussie!) is now available at various online retailers: GET YOURS NOW 

Have you found any funny or interesting or exasperating errors on book covers before? And does that discourage you from reading the book, or does it really matter?

Want to know more about author Diane AS Stuckart aka Anna Gerard? Visit her WEBSITE

Posted in Let's Talk, with Diane A.S. Stuckart • Tags: , , , , , , |  20 Comments


20 thoughts on “Critters on the Covers…

  1. I do think it matters if the animal in the book is correctly portrayed on the cover. The cover is my first look at a book and I automatically imagine the animal as that specific animal when I read it.
    I can’t recall if I ever came across an animal that was different looking in the book, but I have with human characters and it threw me for a second. I looked at the cover just to check (it was hair color).
    I think if I wrote a book and I based it on a specific pet, I too would really want my pet on the cover just as she/he is in real life.

    1. Hi April. One of my original historical romances had a heroine with red hair; however, the admittedly lovely cover depicted her as a blonde. What the…??? According to my editor at the time, that was “artistic license”. 😛

  2. Because I merely glance at the animals on the cover (cute/not cute/adorable/not adorable/stuck in the middle of nowhere), instead relying on the book description to be seared into my head, I haven’t had a problem with any book cover. Maybe, if I picked up a book that had Lassie on it and it was about a dachshund, it would be different.

  3. When my publisher sent me the first cover for Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, my heart sank. It was pink with white curlicues that looked like a decorated cake. More chick lit or romance than mystery, and my sleuth wasn’t a baker or cake decorator. I fought like crazy to get it changed. They finally sent me what had been their second choice, and it was perfect. I’m glad I fought so hard and won!

  4. I’ve been lucky to have accurate dogs on my covers. My publisher, Kensington, has an excellent reputation for getting cozy covers right. I’m lucky.

  5. I read a book with peacocks on the cover and was wondering where the peacocks where and then they were mentioned. So it made me curious but did not keep me from reading the book.

  6. I very nearly had an animal color mistake. My cover for the forthcoming book 2 of the series, In the Wick of Time, should have a black cat, as on the first book of the series. When the color version of the cover arrived, I was sick with covid and barely reading emails on my phone. I checked that the image had luminaries, Christmas decor, candles, and a cat and then approved the image. It wasn’t months later that I noticed I had a gray stripped cat instead of a black one. I immediately wrote the publisher, apologizing profusely for not noticing earlier. Because of multiple factors, they were able to darken the cat so that you can’t see the mostly invisible stripes. I’m calling it a win.

  7. As an indie author, I never have to fight with my publisher. 🙂 And my cover designer, the fabulous Dar Albert, always seems to be reading my mind even when I’m not quite sure what’s there. Kudos to good cover designers!

  8. I realize publishers make decisions based on marketing data, and that it may have nothing to do with the author’s choice. So it doesn’t bother me if the images don’t match. That’s one advantage of indie publishing. You can create a cover to your exact specifications.

  9. I cannot say that I have found any on a book cover. I have found one in the Epiloge. The author had killed off a character, but forgot she had done so. When she was winding up the story, she mentioned him again. I brought it to her attention. That information had been missed by multiple people. The book had already been printed. She could change it for the ebooks, but could not change the paperbacks. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  10. If there is a specific animal on the cover, I would want that animal to be in the book. I can’t remember any errors on the cover vs in the book.

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