Young Adult Fiction! discussion

The Classroom-(gen. discussion) > YA Cover Art -- Can You Say "Important"?

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken It's true of any book for any age group, but the coolness of a book cover in the YA genre is especially important. A pretty good book, like THE WEDNESDAY WARS, for instance, is crippled out of the gate by its lame hardcover artwork (or lack thereof).

What are some examples of outstanding, teenage-eye-grabbing covers you know of? How about some horrific ones?

And how do the covers (great/poor) match up with the contents? Grandma said we shouldn't judge books by their covers, but kids do...

message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken Wow. Craft is quite the artist. Very detailed stuff. And Midsummer Nights-Dreamy, in its way. Teenage girls is right -- this would spook the boys for sure.

message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments Well usually what happens to me is I head over to Barnes and Noble, make a mad dash to the teen section and scan the newly released books. I instantly cross off all of the ones with dragons or fairies on them, becasue that tells me it has more fantasy than I would be able to handle. I usually look for a nice simple, but intriguing cover. I also look a the title a lot to give me hints. If there is a word in the title that I have never heard of and know it's made up, definetly too much fantasy. But really what I do is open to the copyright page and read the little summary there. It's faster than reading the back or inside flap and usually is more accurate. I once read an inside flap that only talks about the main character's relationship with this guy, and yet the guy didn't even show up until three-quarters of the way through the book. Talk about deceptive.

message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken I guess we can take the "fan" out of "fantasy" in your case then, right? Those little summaries are pithy, aren't they? Simplicity works for me, too, in book cover art. But the essential thing is that it not look kiddie.

I think there've been studies proving that teens prefer books with protagonists their own age or older but steer clear of ones that have younger protagonists. Thus, a cover like Silent to the Bone, with its very youngish, red-haired kid wearing glasses, probably hurts it. Not a bad book, but no one will even pick it up in my room. They don't like the cover. Period. Give it a chance, I say. But you can tell their heart isn't in to it, and if they're polite enough to try it, they surreptitiously return it to the shelf the next day.

message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments That study is definetly true. The books that interested me a couple of years ago definetly wouldn't interest me now. I'm sixteen and I would never pick up a book with the main character being only 15 or even 14. I even have a hard time picking up books whose main character is 16. I think it's because interests have changed in a matter of a couple of years. It's hard for me to like a book where the plot lines are simple and the narrator makes such a big deal out of a kiss when I need something more sophistocated than that.

message 6: by Ken (last edited Jan 21, 2008 01:27PM) (new)

Ken Thanks for verification from the trenches ("trenches" being teendom), Lisa. How about this? They say girls are willing to read books with a male protagonist, but boys are more reluctant to read books with a girl protagonist. That ring true, too?

Also, if you have a "wow" book cover art story, let us know. I'm willing to wager you like to carry around books with a neat cover (I know I do, and I'm a few years -- a few -- past nineteen).

message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 3 comments I did read this one book called The Burn Journals, with the protagonist being a guy. It was definetly not my cup of tea. Usually I don't think it matters whether the protagonist is male or female. For me, I usually have a more difficult time reading books written by men. But then again, I have read a few good books written by men. I guess once you've read as many books as I have it all really doesn't matter.

I really have a hard time seeing a guy read a book about a girl. Girl books tend to follow more towards romance and most guys aren't interested in that.

This one book called The China Garden has a really beautiful cover. It's simple, but not just computer graphics. The cover of that book really lured me in. I guess a book cover just has to be aestheticly pleasing but still say something about what the book is like.

message 8: by Grace (new)

Grace | 3 comments I'd say that cover art is definitely important, but only to make it catch someones eye so they pick it up. No one would see a book that looks great and not read it simply because the cover art is bad. For me at least, the title is just as - if not more - important than the art. I love to go into book stores and just browse around looking at books and often pick up ones because the title is awesome.

As far as the age of the main character or male vs. female I really don't mind. I'm sixteen and read books about younger kids. I guess it just depends on the person.

Yeah, I agree Lisa, I don't think boys like to read books about girls. My brother was reading the Book Thief (definitely an eye grabbing title in my opinion!) and complained about the entire time. It's about a girl who's younger than either of us and he just didn't like that. Though I loved it.

message 9: by Alexandra (last edited Jan 23, 2008 03:31PM) (new)

Alexandra I agree Grace. Even as a kid the cover caught my eye and would cause me to pick up a book at a library or bookstore to read the blurb on the back or flyleaf. It's a good attention grabber, especially if the cover evokes a good sense of the kind of story it is.

I'd often pick up a book that had cover art that drew my attention, but after reading what the book was about decide it wasn't something I wanted to read.

On the other hand I know many good books are left unnoticed because of plain covers, boring covers, or cover art that gives the impression it's another kind of story than it actually is.

Good cover art is important to make it more likely the book will be picked up and read, but it needs more to actually be read, and enjoyed.

message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken Sad but true, but so much depends upon marketing these days. Look at the NBA. It used to be a basketball league. Now its a Jumbotron that fans stare at to get a better look at the hijinks (dancing girls, leaping mascots, ball-shooting fans, little kids in big uniforms, etc.) going on mid-court during every time out. Meanwhile, you get a "game" where half the original rules of b-ball are broken.

But I digress. Marketing. Yes. It's the doorway, all right, and without it (or with a dweeby cover), the book is all but sunk. Fair? Of course not. But principled indignation does little to change the fact.

Many authors get no say in the cover art. It used to be the exclusive call of the publisher and its "art" dept. I wonder how much that still holds true today?

message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissacwalker) | 5 comments Hey there.

As a first-time author (as of September), I can say that my publisher (Penguin's Berkley JAM) let me do an art memo and put forth my ideas.

Not that they stuck with ALL my ideas, but I did end up sending them "inspiration" cover ideas and I was really happy with the outcome. I believe I had a little influence.

But, at the end of the day, it's really their call, so I think you have to hope for a cool art department...


message 12: by Brighde (new)

Brighde | 5 comments Thats great, what book did you write?

message 13: by Chris (new)

Chris (rettstatt) | 2 comments I've heard so many book cover horror stories from authors, but I have to say, I got extremely lucky with Candlewick.

I had some creative input on the cover, but the main reason it worked out (I think) is that the art director there really got into the story and found the perfect artist for it. And from what I could tell, their Marketing folks supported the concept the whole way. I don't know how it works with other publishers, but everyone involved read the book and knew it inside out before we started anything.

The book is Kaimira: The Sky Village, the first in a series. The cover artist is now working on internal illustrations, and I've had a lot of input on those.

message 14: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 6 comments Cool, Melissa -- I know you from myspace. :) That's awesome that you were able to offer some art ideas. I am not artistic that way, so I had no say in my cover.

But I absolutely love what they came up with.


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissacwalker) | 5 comments My first one was VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY, which came out in Sept. Second was VIOLET BY DESIGN (the cover of which is my photo on Goodreads!). :)

message 16: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (engl-teach-524) I agree that cover art does play a huge part in readership, especially with YA. My students really dislike picking up books that don't have interesting covers. Hard to pressure them to not judge a book by its cover, when, in all honesty, I do typically judge books by their covers. However, as I'm getting older and more experienced with reading various kinds of literature, I'm becoming more open-minded and not just choosing books because of the "pretty" cover!

message 17: by Ken (new)

Ken Cool covers are almost as good as an outstanding opening hook in Chapter the First ("In Which I Am Born," if you're reading David Copperfield.

message 18: by Brighde (new)

Brighde | 5 comments I absolutley love Violet On The Runway, I am going to get Violet By Design soon. :)

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