Jan 30, 2012

Cover Art

As some of you know, a friend of mine has been doing some artwork inspired by my first novel. I'm planning to use some of these to decorate my blog when they're done.

Yesterday I got to see the work done so far on my hero, Nathan Shepherd. I am loving this. Actually seeing my characters in this way is such a giddy rush. I'm dying to share these with people.

This got me thinking, though, about cover art. What makes a book really stand out? What are some favourites at the moment? Personally I like the title and author's name to be very clear. If the font or background image are too complex it distracts me and I have to pause for a moment to figure out what they say. That's not a great encouragement to pick up the book and check out the blurb on the back cover. Usually I also prefer abstract art, such as a logo or stylised image, over something with a model in a pose. That said, a really well done cover with a picture of characters from the book can be very evocative. I just get tired of seeing the same run of stock images that say nothing about the book itself.

I'd also be lying if I said that all this hasn't got me wondering just how much say an author gets in their cover art. Can they make reccomendations? If they see a proposed cover and just hate it, can they ask for something else? Or is it one of those things that needs to be ironed out on a case by case basis?


  1. There is an interesting post from Kristin Nelson on how much say authors get - http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2011/10/singing-to-my-choir.html

    The short answer seems to be: anything from loads to none.

    For my part, I cannot bear amateurish fonts. If it looks like something a 13 year old girl found online and used for the title of her Livejournal, then it has no place on anything you expect someone to pay money for! If a font is excessively curly and stylised, I find it very annoying. It also immediately suggests to me that the book was probably self-published and the writer skimped on an area in which they have poor skills.

    Yeah, I'm kinda judgmental sometimes. . .

    I also dislike excessively gorey covers. You can easily suggest violence without forcng bookshop browsers to look at anything too gross. The covers of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels are a good example - they incorporate blood imagery in a tasteful and non-graphic fashion, and it works very well.

    Those are my pet hates, I'm sure everyone has their own!

  2. Quite often, I pick out books by color. No, I'm not even joking. If I'm in the mystery section of the book store and I want a cozy, I'll search for the brightest colors, pull them out, and read the back. Sometimes I pull out the dark ones if I'm of the mood. If I'm in the regular fiction section I search out pastels that denote historical fiction.

    So, I guess my only peeve is really self evident: don't put a bright orange and yellow cover on The Silence of the Lambs.

  3. It depends on the publisher. Authors with big publishers usually have very little say in their cover. Smaller publishers tend to work more with the author. I was able to provide descriptions of key elements of my two books to the illustrator and then he created my cover from that point. Not sure what would've happened if I'd not liked them. Fortunately they rocked!
    And cover art is always what attracts me first.

  4. I've started to notice how I can generally spot a YA book within less than a second just by a glance at the cover. There are a lot of subtleties in cover design that I'm not particularly conscious of but that really do tell us a lot about the book we're about to read.

  5. I'm for clarity also with author and title. Keep it Simple - and clear - is my motto. Re: Alex's comment. Small publishers do tend to work more with the author. At least, I found this to be true in my case.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs