Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Awesome Covers (umm...at least I think so)

Sheena blogged yesterday on how to make your book go viral. She focused on self-publishing, but I think this advice is great for all authors. So many traditionally published authors have to work on self-promotion too, so either way you go, you should read Sheena's post.

One thing she talked specifically about was to make a great cover, which inspired me to blog about covers.

Okay, I’m really hoping that this develop into a nice discussion in the comments because I’d love to know what type of covers influence you too. All I can present here are covers that intrigue me, and I’m curious if others feel the same way. So please leave a comment. :)

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

I’ve learned this lesson well because when I started reading the Fantasy genre, none of the covers really appealed to me. There are so many books that I loved that I would have passed on if I had judged them solely on their covers. For example:

These covers are fine, but they don’t really do it for me. I don’t want to make this a male or female thing, but most of these books were borrowed from my brothers’ collections. So I can’t help but wonder if, in general, these covers appeal more to males than females. I believe these books were marketed more to boys than girls back when I was a kid, so I wonder if they worked for the audience the publishers were targeting.

The most important thing for a cover to do is to represent the story being told. A cover should attract a reader who enjoys that specific type of stories. The covers that speak to me generally do represent the kind of books I enjoy. Although there a lot of books I love with covers that don't draw me in.

I’ve noticed that I’m attracted to covers that seem to focus on one character or more iconic covers with an object or symbol. I’m going to show you examples that I love. These are not all books that I have loved, and honestly some I haven’t even read (they are either in my TBR pile or the story itself didn’t appeal to me even if the cover did). These are only books that I gave a second look based only on their covers.

Iconic Covers

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I know Twilight is so over-done, but seriously, this cover is just gorgeous. I love the color scheme with black and white with a splash of red. It just screams paranormal romance, especially passion and temptation, which makes it perfect. I loved all the original covers in the Twilight Saga except Breaking Dawn. They are all just so pretty.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This cover does look a little similar to Twilight with hands holding an object, but it gives a completely different feel. The color scheme is not as bold, and the intricate, gold design around the title gives it more of a second world fantasy feel. Since the title is thief, it is pretty clear what the story is about. Very well done.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This cover has a very sleek design which gives it a very totalitarian feel to it. I love the color scheme, black, white, gold and a hint of red. Very eye-catching.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Like The Thief, this one has a second world fantasy feel with a very interesting medallion hanging over a beautiful landscape. I’m not too fond of the writing going up the page, but the rest of it is so beautiful, I’ll let it slide. :)

Covers with a Girl

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Girl wearing a beautiful dress crying in the forest definitely gives the impression of heartache. I love the color scheme and the way the light comes through the trees suggesting either sunrise or sunset. Very Beautiful.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Yes the girl isn’t alone in this one, but the other person isn't really seen. I can't help but wonder if the guy is trying to help her or hurt her. The cover is very disturbing, but beautiful at the same time which is intriguing.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

I’m not sure how well this cover works with the story since everyone has to wear uniforms, and I can’t remember if anyone ever wears a cape, but still this cover is gorgeous. It suggests a second world fantasy and spying which is on par with a story that has a lot of political intrigue.

Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Love how the setting is shown in the scenery and the dress and how the girl looks like she is on fire. I love the vivid color scheme, gives the impression of passion. Just awesome.

Covers with a guy

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I think it is clear by now that I love black and white color schemes. I think it fits well with paranormal romance. I love how there is only a touch of red. Besides that, hot angel guy falling, what is there not to love. Yes guys, us girls can be shallow too. ;)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This cover is just gorgeous (yes the model is pretty gorgeous too). I love how you can see the runes drawn on the hot guy and how light seems to come out of them. I like how bright the guy looks in comparison to the bleak city below. Very fitting of the novel, IMO.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

I think this cover is pretty awesome. I like the contrast between the white background with the dark clothes the guy is wearing. Besides, it promises ninja assassins, what could be cooler than that?

White Cat by Holly Black

Yep, another black, white, and red color. I really love that combination. But this cover just screams mobsters, and that is exactly what this story is about. Really awesome cover.

So those are some covers that really appeal to me. I definitely see a trend. So do you agree or disagree. What kind of book covers appeal to you?



  1. I find I rely on covers a lot more than I used to, to pick my books. And the font of the title. It sounds strange, but if I'm browsing spines in a bookstore, not covers, some title just stand out from the rest - easy to read, nice contrast with the background color, and an interesting font.

    About books, well, you know I love Megan Whalen's Turner's Thief series, and Vince Natale's work on the cover illustrations is just phenomenal.

    I also like covers that look like paintings more than photographs. Like the classic cover for Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl - love that.

  2. If you are going to publish a book, then you better have a decent cover. I am a high school librarian, and there is no way that I can talk a student into reading a book with a dumb cover. What's more, I don't want to read books with dumb covers. I agree that fantasy covers are not a big draw for me. I am drawn to the more romantic and dramatic looking ones that you mention above. I read Fallen and Hush, Hush because of their interesting covers. When I get books like those into my library, I know that they will get checked out a lot by my female students. I would like to know what type of covers draw in male readers. I have a hard time finding books that teenage boys will like. It would help if I knew what kind of covers they are drawn to. mm

  3. My absolute favorite covers are almost always a little abstract, not too on the nose for the story. I like them simple and dignified and easy to pull out in public ;) Twilight is a brilliant cover. I love the one for Poison Study, too, although the red cloak immediately makes me think of The Handmaid's Tale. I'm with you on the fantasy covers. Ugh.

    It's hard to say what I do like, but easy to say what I don't: faces. I don't want to see a main character's face illustrated on the cover. Bodies are slightly more acceptable, but I don't need to see a lot of muscles. The City of Bones cover is good but barely passes my "am I okay with reading this in front of the baseball dads" test. I am really sick of the urban fantasy covers that show a tattooed woman in a tank top and low-slung jeans with a city backdrop and her face either cut off or obscured by hair. I mean *REALLY SICK* of it. If I ever get an urban fantasy published, I really hope to go to bat for some other cover. Any other cover. Please.

    I absolutely loved the original Sookie Stackhouse covers, which are paintings in sort of a Grandma Moses style. They are adorable.

  4. I like the red, black, and white color combo, and I also like neon green, hot pink, or teal.

    A good cover is so critical, and it's not something you can fake. I bet each of those covers you posted had several other versions.

  5. Gorgeous covers! My favorites are "Hush, Hush" and "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer."

    I have to say though, I dislike covers with only torsos and no heads. I'm not really sure how that particular trend got started, but it always struck me as bizarre to stare at someone's chest. In recent years, it was neck down shown, and now we're getting chin and down. What's next, forehead and down?

  6. Thanks everyone for your replies. It is interesting how everyone's tastes are so different.

    @Susan- The cover for Goose Girl is very fitting for a fairy tale retelling. I think that is the most important part of the cover, to match the tone of the story being told.

    @Anonymous- You should poll the boys in your school. I'd be interested in what draws boys in too. Hopefull some guys will comment here. I have the feeling that the covers I like do lean more to the girly side.

    I think it is interesting how you can predict what books your students' are more likely to read based on book covers. Maybe I should've had you write this post. :)

    @Sarah- Yeah, I'm not too fond of faces either. It taints how I picture the MC. I don't mind full body shots, but I don't like close-ups.

    LOL on reading books in front of baseball dads. Luckily, there are kindles. For some reason, I don't like strangers knowing what I am reading. Ironic since I'm potentially blogging to a bunch of strangers, but I can't see you roll your eyes over the internet. So somehow this works. :)

    @Sheena-I'm not generally a fan of neon green or hot pink (I do like teal), but I love the Matched cover. So those colors definitely can work. They do make the book stand out, which is important.

    I agree that a good cover is critical, but like everything else, it is very subjective

    @Sabrina-I don't mind the torso shots, but I see your point. They are a little bizzare. I think it comes from not wanting to show the face, but I think there is a better way to do that.

  7. It isn't just that those old covers were meant for guys; they were meant for bookstore browsing. I have all three books and a ton of other old ones. But now you have to choose large type and simpler pictures to catch the eye in a thumbnail size. I'm a blue fan, with green as second, yet City of Bones and then Firelight are my faves from this batch. Black and white pictures don't attract me compared to colorful ones. I would never have read Twilight or the Hunger Games based on cover colors, but Hush Hush has a guy falling. Who wouldn't want to help him by reading the book?

    1. Excellent point. I didn't even think about how electronic books have changed how covers are done. I very much prefer simpler pictures even in bookstore browsing.

      It is interesting how we all are attracted to different color schemes. Thanks for commenting.


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