cover · cover art · romance

Cover art twins: how do you feel when cover art is duplicated?

Cover art twins:  The Silk Romance and Her Father’s Daughter

Imagine you are sitting on a train quietly minding your own business, and you look up and there across the aisle is your real and actual twin.  There she is, staring back at you – the same as you, only weirdly very slightly different.  How would you react?  Amazed?  Horrified?  Actually a little annoyed?  There should only be one of you, right?  (Unless you do have a real identical twin that you know about, of course.  In which case I’m guessing you’d be happy to see her :) )

Well, that very same thing happened to me.  Well, maybe not my actual twin, but I came across the twin of my fictional heroine, Sophie Challoner, from my novel The Silk Romance.

Let me explain.

Earlier this year I was at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Sheffield.  I met lots of other romance writers and had a great time getting out from behind my laptop and talking to real people (not just my imaginary friends).

One of the people I met this year was the lovely Cathy Mansell, author of Her Father’s Daughter and Shadow Across the Liffey.  I took Cathy’s business cards home with me, and as I sat on the train from Sheffield rooting through all my spoils I realised…Cathy and I have the same heroine!

Take a look – cover art twins.  Separated at birth!

cath mansell, her father's daughter, cover art twinsthe silk romance, helena fairfax, romance novel, romantic, france, silk, weaving, lyon

After I got over my surprise, to be honest with you, I wasn’t really too shocked by this.  It’s a fact of authors’ lives now, with so many novels available digitally, that occasionally you will find the same images cropping up.  Cover designers like to use free stock images, or else purchase a licence for a database of images, and it’s inevitable that from time to time images will be duplicated.  In fact, it’s such a common phenomenon these days that ‘cover art twins’ is a genuine term to cover it.

I was curious, though, to find out why our cover designers chose this very same image to represent our heroines and used it to produce intriguingly different covers.

Sarah Nolan, the heroine of Her Father’s Daughter, is an Irish girl from the 1950s.  My heroine, Sophie Challoner, is a half-French/half-English girl living in London in the present day.  Cathy will be writing a post for my blog on her heroine and the birth of her cover, and how it turned out as it did.  I’m intrigued by this, and can’t wait to hear from her.

In the meantime, this is how the cover of The Silk Romance was realised.

My novel is published by MuseItUp Publishing in Canada, and I was fortunate to have the wonderful Charlotte Volnek as cover designer.  Charlotte asked me what I’d like portrayed on my cover, and I thought featuring the heroine would give readers a good idea of what to expect from the novel.  It’s difficult to encapsulate everything there is to say about a novel in a thumbnail cover, but I think Charlotte achieved great results.

Here was my brief for the heroine’s character:  Sophie Challoner is a student living with her father and brother on a rundown estate in London.  Since Sophie’s French mother died, her father has been suffering from severe depression.  He lost his business, and now Sophie supports the family.  Sophie is a romantic girl, forced to curb her own dreams in order to provide for her household.  Circumstances have made her hard-working and sensible, but one night, on her eighteenth birthday at a ball in Paris, she rebels against fate and does something reckless and out of character.  It’s a highly romantic night she won’t forget, and one that will come back to haunt her.

I wanted the cover to reflect Sophie’s personality and also to reflect the romance of the setting.  Sophie takes up a short placement in a silk mill in Lyon.  I asked the designer to reflect the glamour and feel of silk in the artwork.  I think Charlotte did a tremendous job, and when I posted the cover on Facebook earlier this year I was inundated with comments.

One difference you might notice between my cover and Cathy’s is that I asked Charlotte to Photoshop the heroine in order to make her eyes a deep blue, and also to redden her lips.  These physical characteristics are described in the book, and so it was important to me that the cover reflected this.

If you’d like to find out more about The Silk Romance, please click here for the blurb, etc.

And if you want to check out Cathy Mansell’s Her Father’s Daughter, click here to view on Amazon.  As I mentioned, Cathy will be coming to my blog some time to talk about her heroine and how she felt when she discovered her cover art twin.  I’m excited to hear from her!

So, how do you feel about cover art twins?  And if you’ve read The Silk Romance, do you feel the cover reflects the heroine accurately?  And finally, which cover do you prefer, and why?  (Don’t be afraid to answer honestly!)  If you have any questions or comments on the subject of cover art twins, please let me know.  I’d love to hear from you!

31 thoughts on “Cover art twins: how do you feel when cover art is duplicated?

  1. Wow! That’s really cool, Helena. I must confess, I like the blue eyes and red lips of Sophie on your cover- they just make her pop right of the page at me!

    And if you haven’t read THE SILK ROMANCE, you should. It’s an enchanting read!


  2. Hi again Susan. The images a lot of designers use are available free, or else by paying a license, and are not copyrighted. A lot of designers use the same image libraries, so that’s why they sometimes get duplicated. There’s an article here if you want to read more: Of course our publisher can’t afford to pay for a photo shoot for every cover – if only! That’s why they resort to a library of images. I hope I’m making sense.


    1. Me too, HK. I worked in the print industry for a number of years, and duplicate images crop up in other industries, too, not just publishing. I think mine and Cathy’s covers suggest different stories, even though it s the same image. Charlotte has been very creative with the image, and I like it, and so do my readers, so I’m happy :) Thanks for your interesting comment!


  3. Yes! And believe it or not they’re both Muse covers! My cover for In My Own Shadow and Danielle Ravencraft’s A Trace of Love. We had different cover artists, too. I’ve also seen it used on one other cover, but I can’t remember the title. Her ethereal look worked perfect for me, and I can see how she’d be popular.


    1. That’s funny it was the same publisher, Susan! But it just goes to show how artists can use the same image to illustrate different stories, and still make it meaningful. I’ll check your covers out! Thanks for coming!


  4. Well, I’m stunned, Helena! Never heard of this before. Must be a little like showing up at the dance and the woman dating your ex is wearing the same dress as you! Well, maybe not like that, but still, a bit off putting.
    I rave all the time about the covers produced by the CAs at MIU, and I’m particularly fond of Charlotte who gave me such an awesome cover for Vermont Escape. Everyone comments on it! Thanks for sharing this. I’ll look forward to hearing from Cathy.


    1. Thanks, Marsha! I like your analogy :) I agree about the covers at MIU. The artists do a great job, and Charlotte’s covers for both my novels are gorgeous. I think the covers for my novel and Cathy’s reflect different stories, despite the fact they use the image. The artists have been very inventive in their use of the heroine! I’m looking forward to hearing from Cathy, too. Thanks for coming by!


  5. This is a first for me, but after you mentioned the free stock issue, I got it. But this is really like actually finding a needle in a haystack. Both are lovely covers. It’s like finding a long lost relative.


    1. Hi Margaret, I agree – it’s like finding a lost member of the family! My cover was produced in Canada, and Cathy’s in Ireland. What are the chances? Although probably not that high, when you think about it. Thanks for coming by, Margaret, and for checking it out.


  6. I doubt it could ever happen with my cover. Three couples, and three different stock photos were used. There are so many pictures to choose from that it’s surprising to hear that it happens often.

    You’ve handled it well, Helena, by contacting your cover’s twin.


    1. Hi Leona, thanks for your comment. Cover art twins occur quite frequently, and the heroine on mine and Cathy’s covers is quite striking, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised she’s been duplicated. I wonder if we’ll find her again somewhere else, too?? That would be interesting! Thanks for dropping in!


  7. I admit I expect to find a duplicate at some time or other as my cover for Trencarrow Secret was a stock image, but I haven’t seen ‘My Isabel’ anywhere else thus far – there’s still time though. However I do happen to know Cathy Mansell, who is lovely and would guess she was flattered rather than annoyed by this. The two covers are quite different, both very striking too.


    1. Hi Anita, lovely to hear from you. You’re right, Cathy is really nice, and we both found it interesting, and even quite amusing, that we have the same image. It’s given us the opportunity to get to know each other, and our novels, which has been brilliant. Thanks very much for coming by and checking it out!


  8. Interesting post, Helena! Both your cover and Cathy’s are lovely, so at least your twins don’t have to feel any sibling rivalry! :)
    On our latest cover (The Sound of Sirens), the female image is the same as on another MIU book, Family Tradition. Since that story is a 2014 EPIC award finalist (as is the first book in our series, Deception Al Dente), I was quite tickled by the coincidence!
    I realize that MIU is a small (but growing) house, and the cover artists do great work with the resources they have, but I have a problem with the whole principal of using stock photography. I understand that, economically, we have no choice, but since my husband is a professional photographer with his own studio, the concept of using stock photography undermines everything he has worked very, very hard for. It would kind of be like publishing houses deciding to use robots to write their books, instead of us. Hmm… there might be a story there… :)


    1. Hi Heather, that is good Karma about your cover twin! Cathy Mansell was nominated for a New Writers’ Award – so fingers crossed for my own heroine! And good luck to you in the Epic awards!
      I understand how your husband must feel about all the stock images. And self-pubbed authors often “DIY” their own covers, too (although you can often tell the poor quality). Has your husband ever thought about starting his own library of stock images? There’s obviously a real need for more variety, especially as self-publishing has taken off in such a massive way. Another source of images would probably be leapt on, especially of quality photos. Everyone uses them, as i mentioned, and not just for book covers. So maybe it could be an idea?
      I love your idea for a story about robots writing books – but I hope it doesn’t become reality ! :)


  9. I’ve noticed it on a few books now and it isn’t surprising that it can sometimes happen, but I can understand that it must be surprising when it happens to you. The two covers both have a completely different feel about them, even though the image of the heroine is the same. I’ve not read Cathy’s book, but your cover is a great reflection of the heroine Sophie, Lyon and the silk connection.


    1. Thanks, Tina! I’m looking forward to hearing from Cathy about how her cover reflects her heroine. As you say, the covers both have a completely different feel. I’m curious to find out more! Thanks for your comment!


  10. I’ve heard of this happening and a few authors grumbling about how the same image was used on a different author’s book cover. I’m glad you are taking it so well. In fact inviting the other author on your blog. That is a great attitude. In truth, the two covers are both striking and well done, so in reality they are not the same except for the woman’s image. Very creative CAs, eh?


    1. Hi JQ, you’re right – the CAs are very creative, and they work the best they can with the materials available. i think they both did a great job. I loved the feel of your cover to Coda to Murder, too, which I thought really reflected well the theme of the story. Thanks very much for your comment!


  11. Hi Helena
    Both covers are attractive in their different colour tones; though I think your cover has the slight edge because of the red framing and the heroine’s red lips! Red is a powerful colour which speak of powerful emotions too, and it draws the eye. So side by side the Mansell cover does appear a little sepia toned and washed out. But with the totally different background details the idea of totally different stories is conveyed successfully, so over all the use of the same image isn’t detrimental.


    1. Hi Alyson, thanks for your comment. Yes, I was hoping the red cover would make my book stand out. It was Charlotte’s suggestion, and a great idea! Both covers reflect the story, though, in their own ways. It was interesting to compare. Thanks for coming by!


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