Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's In A Book Cover?

One of the things readers are most curious about are covers. Covers are art, and art is always subjective—beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that—but book covers are beauty with a purpose. That purpose is two-fold: one, the cover should attract the reader’s eye and make her curious to find out what’s behind the cover. Secondly, the cover should give the reader some clues as to whether the book is something they would normally like to read. As in, “hey you, mystery reader, here’s a new mystery that you haven’t heard about it. Check me out!”


For those of you who are curious as to why authors like or dislike one of their covers, you might find this link interesting. Five romance authors, published by Avon, talk about a cover that they felt missed the mark. It might give you some insight into why authors think a cover does or doesn’t work.

Lauren's Cover
My Cover--you be the judge
I get many compliments and questions about the covers of my books. They are lovely (I’m lucky that way). However, they’re not perfect. A few readers have asked why there is a brunette on the cover of the large UK paperback release of The Reckoning when the main character, Lanore, is a blond. The plain truth of it is that the publishing house was hoping to appeal to the YA market and felt that this cover—reminiscent of Lauren Kate’s Fallen series—might appeal to those readers. (That begs the question of whether or not the books are suitable for teens, since half the market for YA books are under the age of 18. I’ll let you be the judge of that.)

Jennifer Estep's urban warrior
You know what to expect from
Tasha Alexander gorgeous covers
Which brings us to the second part of the equation. There are definite styles for individual genres. The covers for mysteries and thrillers may be similar, but aside from that you can generally tell an urban fantasy by its cover (there have been tongue-in-cheek checklists for urban fantasy heroines, for instance: black tank top, black leather pants, sword, armband tattoo—whether or not this fits the book’s heroine). Soft pastel landscapes, the backs of women’s heads or otherwise obscured women’s faces generally portend women’s fiction. Historical fiction gets women in gowns and figures snipped from an oil painting. Women’s high heels or a purse, a cupcake and that sort of thing mean you’re probably looking at chick-lit. This is not to demean these covers for being stereotypes: this redundancy is important. It signals the reader that they’re facing the right bookshelf in the store. 

Which brings me back to the covers of my books. As you can imagine by my choice of blog topic today, I'm in a bit of a quandary. What do these covers say to you? Where in the bookstore would you say they belong? Do you have a favorite cover you think would fit the Taker books?




Do you think the similarities between these two covers--blond hair, bold typeface--helped Gone Girl? While the covers aren't identical, would readers be predisposed to pick up a book with a familiar cover?


1 comment:

  1. I tend to prefer covers that are different from all the others. I like something that's unique, and particularly love covers that actually resemble the story.

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