Judging a Translation by its Cover

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today wondering whether most writers who have their books translated into other languages ever know how much was changed during the translation process. To judge by the covers on foreign editions of my novels, the answer is quite a lot! This is obviously a post based on the visual, so I’ll be showing the original, U. S. covers first and then the foreign language editions.

Here is my first experience with a translation. The cover didn’t surprise me, but something else did. In this French edition of Cloud Castles, my hero’s surname was changed from Moreau to Moore. Go figure.

Then there was the French editions of Sight Unseen, a book that takes place entirely in rural Maine. Note the obvious cityscape in the background.

The Danish edition of Love Thy Neighbor had the same problem and the German version of that book apparently thinks it involved a shipboard romance.

The novels I wrote as Kate Emerson had the most . . . interesting interpretations when it came to the covers of foreign editions. I blame TV series about the Tudors. This is the Czechoslovakian version of Between Two Queens.

And the Spanish edition of The Pleasure Palace.

Of my books written as Kaitlyn Dunnett, only one had a foreign edition. I kind of like the German version of Ho-Ho-Homicide.

What do you think? Would you ever guess some of these covers are for the same book?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com.


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8 Responses to Judging a Translation by its Cover

  1. John Clark says:

    First thought that came to mind was this is a literary version of Truth or Dare, but I have no idea whether that even comes close as it’s early in the morning.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Have another cup of coffee, John! No hidden meaning. I just ran out of clever ideas for a blog this time around.

  2. Alice says:

    I do agree that the German version of Ho-Ho-Homicide is a great cover.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Covers are so strange. And of course, with a traditional publisher, the author has no say in the process. Overall, I’ve been very lucky with the covers I’ve had.

  3. Judith Moore says:


  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    Covers are so important. What ever gets the reader to grab the book and pick it up for a second look. If it has little or nothing to do with the story line, oh, well!

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I just hate the idea that someone might buy one of my books thinking the cover represents what’s inside, and then is disappointed (or worse, ticked off enough to post a bad review!).

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