Jul 28, 2010

Highly Disturbing Urban Fantasy Cover [I Hope To God This Is Not Legit]

First, a little background: I don't normally hang out on Craigslist. My wife is a free-lance photographer and was browsing craigslist for Chicago area photography jobs. She is very aware of my stance on Urban Fantasy cover art (read here) so when she saw this listing for a photo shoot for the cover of an unnamed genre novel (and future bestseller no less), she sent it to me.

Wow. Just wow. Please take the time to read though all the details. Now, these people have been updating the craigslist ad (as a result of questions or police inquries I'm sure) so here is the original ad as I saw it. (click to expand the screenshots). I said before I hoped that this wasn't legit but I kind of want it to be, because that is way better than any alternative scenario I can come up with.

Here are my first ten thoughts.

1) Is this a legitimate photo shoot? It sounds like it could be an urban fantasy photo shoot. But it also sounds like it could be a sexual predator trying to lure a delusional Twilight fan into a bad situation. If you are a professional, you should probably try to avoid this confusion.

2) If this is legitimate, I want to know what publisher and what book. I want to see the finalized cover art and I want to know why they can't afford to pay anyone anything. [Note: I sent an email to the creator of the ad to see if I could find out more]

3) If you are genre professional that works with cover art (or knows anything about the cover art portion of the industry), is this a normal practice?

4) There is nothing like sending mixed signals to impressionable youth.

-The main character in this book is a 15 year old girl but looks at least 17-18
-This girl is all about sex appeal and flirtation, yet staying a virgin. Let that be your guide. 
-She's a high school girl, so she won't be wearing too much make-up. We will work together to decide how much is enough.
-You must email us a head shot and a body shot (we need to be able to see your legs, from mid thigh to 6 inches below the knee.
-Must have good skin, caucasian, the color of vanilla or French vanilla, or close to it

Let me summarize, they want you to look like a virgin that's dressed up like a whore. But only a white whore, because apparently sex doesn't sell when you don't look like flavorless ice cream. And while you're at it, send us some photos that may or may not qualify as child pornography. Because we want someone whose 15 that looks 18. Not someone who is 18 and looks 15.

5) Collard Shirt? Like a shirt made out of cabbage?

6) Ok, I'll assume its legit. Let's take a look at the details.

Urban Fantasy cover.


School girl outfit.


Custom designed long sword.


Lots of blood in hair, splattered on clothing, and dripping down sword.

A little weird but okay.

Glass of milk and a cookie.

What the hell? Harry Dresden vs. Evil Grandmothers.

7) Hey Free Shoes! Awesome.

8) With the exception of a male parent, you are not allowed to bring any males to the shoot. You may bring as many females as you wish.

Oh good, because that's not sketchy at all. But I'm still a little confused. I'm a male. Can I come?

9) Of course, we've read portions of the book's manuscript, and we believe that this book has the potential to become a national best seller, and also become a popular TV or movie series. This is our first project of this type, and the first time we're working on a project with no budget, but we're still going to make sure it is a success, and we would like some of you to be a part of it.

Well if portions of the book's manuscript are good enough to make into a popular movie series, then it's okay.

10) There will be no pay. Instead, you will be recognized in the book's acknowedgements (about the 4th page of the book), and online if possible.

The acknowedgements better be on page 4. I don't take free pictures to get my name on some prime numbered page, you lying bastard...

This just too weird. What are the odds this is the self photographed cover of Terry Goodkind's new book?


  1. guh. As a small press cover artist, I'd never do something like that--but I also don't do photo shoots.

    But...yanno, I do some gigs that don't pay. Then I spend as little as possible on them (find reference photos online as necessary, use things I have lying around, etc); and I do some gigs that pay, and then the money gets spread around (licensing photos or fonts if they suit, ...). Though I suppose I do both cover art and cover design....

    Above sounds very non-legitimate, even if it "is" legitimate.

  2. Pay of $100 for a low-budget shoot sounds vaguely reasonable. Also wonder if something else is going on (Staffeine being a guerrilla marketing company). Their website blows, but this is what they advertise in terms of photography: http://staffeine.com/photoads.asp

  3. Er, definitely sets my alarm bells ringing...


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