Cover Artwork – Judging a Book By Its You Know What


As someone who reads genre fiction voraciously, one of the things that always strikes my curiosity is what does or does not catch a reader’s eye. What repels one reader sometimes attracts another. Recently this issue came into focus because I just finished revamping the cover of The Princess Who Defied Kings – my young adult fantasy adventure novel – after a professional artist helped teach me how to give it a healthy makeover.

Cover tips 101 says one thing above all else – does it communicate EXACTLY what the book is about the moment you glance at that cover image. So in my case, I asked myself “Does this cover communicate butt-kicking princess who can deal with adversity?” Hopefully the result above speaks for itself.

As a reader my challenge to you would be, think a moment about what really makes you pick up a book. We do it unconsciously all the time and seldom actually consider it. Ask yourself, do you have a bias or predisposition toward certain kinds of covers?

I confess, I definitely do. Personally I’m drawn to covers with faces, animals, or people on them, as opposed to more abstract covers. Yet there’s something to be said for covers that don’t spoil what the reader might envision in their own mind’s eye, a cover that doesn’t show TOO much. (What if you envision the character as a Native American, but the cover shows a pasty pale white guy or gal?)

The truth is that we can and often do have no choice except to judge a book by its cover. In the finite 24 hours in a given day, we simply don’t have time to crack open every book and see if it’s something which would truly tickle our fancy.

So – what are your cover artwork pet peeves? Favorite book covers of all time? Has someone ever republished a book you loved and done an ‘epic fail’ when it came to the newer cover? What do you see as adding the ‘wow’ or ‘awesome’ factor to a cover, whether you’re browsing a physical shelf or viewing online?

I’m interested in your take. (Meanwhile, I can only hope that my cover artwork above measures up. Comments on that, always appreciated.)

This entry was posted in fantasy, science fiction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.