Lovers of Paranormal discussion

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COVERS - let's talk about cover art!

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message 1: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments I've searched a bit this group and haven't found a discussion regarding cover art for our fave genre. I just might be blind, sorry if there already is one :)

Anyway, what about covers? Do you judge the book by it? How important is it to you? Does it have anything to do with what you expect to find among the pages?

Art and design quality: do you feel, like me, that authors give far too little importance to the quality of the covers? As an artist,I have very hard time to understand how a good writer can put a tremendously bad cover to their hard work. Just... why?

I have tons of examples, but here are the most recent ones I can think of. The good and the bad example :)

The BAD: "Burned" by K.M.Moning, the Fever series



This is SUCH a great series! It's plot is wide, the characters deep and three-dimensional... and this is SUCH a terrible cover art! I mean, by the look of it, you'd say that the only thing that's important is that there are hot guys in there. Sure, there are, but it's NOT the book's main thing. Not even close. So why? The entire series had better covers. If not technically great, at least with theme of it, you can't go totally astray when guessing the content. But this? Karen, why? The only thing you'd be guessing correctly is that there is something hot in it.

The GOOD: The "Penryn and the End of Days" series by Susan Ee. The cover here is for the first one, the "Angelfall"



Cover art for those three books are the proof that sometimes it really is true: less is more. The simplicity of the art only accentuates the meaning. They are technically very good (I could discuss the letters, tho, but let's not split hairs), the colors complement each other very well, it is also modern and still contains that something we, paranormal lovers need - a bit of dark atmosphere. Be sure to take a look at the other two covers as well:
World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) by Susan Ee and End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3) by Susan Ee


What's your opinion?


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments Covers are so incredibly important to me, despite having a kindle and never seeing them. I hate it when time and effort aren't put into a cover or a stock image is over used. Even worse...when the cover doesn't match the book or when the photoshop is terrible. Capital offenses. Red cards.

Authors/publishers are trying to sell a product and they have to have an effective way of drawing customers in.


message 3: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments I agree that authors and publishers need to sell the product first and foremost, and we all know that a hot guy will most likely attract the eye. BUT, what if it's not about a hot guy at all? I mean, there are MANY different and beautiful images that would be nice on the eyes.
I believe that in some genres it's a question of being IN. If you get me. It's quite normal that you put a hot guy and girl in an almost sex scene if you're writing a romance. You add some fangs and tattoos and you have a PNR. I mean, is that really all? I find that the UF authors do give a bit more thought to their covers, and they show a broader range of different styles and themes. Still, too many are technically bad, as you said, using terrible photoshopped images. It sometimes seems that someone took scissors and just cut few mismatched images and glued them together. And then typed over it in some font that just doesn't add up to all that...


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments Exactly. A lot of it has become excessively generic. I understand that you're working with a budget but there are easy ways to get good cover art.

I'm like you, I like simple. I like clean covers that make sense. One of my favorite authors has beautiful simple covers that immediately draw me in.

Firebird, The by Susanna Kearsley Winter Sea, The by Susanna Kearsley The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

So amazing.


message 5: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Yes, they're great! Now I want to read them, tho not just for the covers :D

But yes, I get, too, that they often don't have a high budget (arguably tho, as some of the bad covers came from some of the top sellers...), but good designers are not so hard to find and they are NOT very expensive! There are many of us that would do cover art just for the sake of exposing our selves, or couse we really like what we do. Budget is really not a very good excuse :/


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments Exactly. Hell, DeviantArt would probably be a good place to start.

Susanna Kearsley writes the best book boyfriends. Robbie and Hugh...dear lord. Although the one with Hugh isn't paranormal at all. Check out all of her books and enjoy!

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

It's a bit of an obsession for me but she's an autobuy author. It's like reading poetry. Her books are amazing.


message 7: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments I absolutely loathe covers with six-eight pack guys, usually faceless, brooding or whatever. Not because I have anything against guys who are in shape (I take a lot of pride in that myself), but it's mindless cliche at its best. I have in mind to create a romance cover featuring a guy with an average build and thinning hair. I wonder how that would sell? :) I thought the "angel wings" were much better. Ultimately, there's a huge amount of subjective taste involved and no clear correlation between covers and sales. I've seen too many "award-winning" covers sell nothing and fairly bad covers (by professional standards, at least) sell well. And I also disagree strongly at times with the self-proclaimed cover design experts. I strongly prefer to create my own characters even if they're flawed (see attached ONE RULE: NO RULES for an example of that), and also want the cover to represent what actually happens in the novel. Still, I could be terribly wrong in my cover strategies. :)

One Rule No Rules by Lawrence Ambrose


message 8: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 30 comments i always had a hard time with covers because a) my art tend to be horribly dated, b) i'm colorblind as all get out and c) i tend to get too 'artsy' and not stick with conventions. (like how you can look at a book and instantly know the genre).

i tend to "what's this" on some interesting covers but I'm more of a catchy title/blurb person. it's difficult to capture that 3 prong attack (awesome cover title & blurb) and just hope you land all the right elements.

for example, i never read wool because at first glance i wouldn't know what its about by looking at it unless i kinda know the genre (im a genre browser). finding the right style to fit my weirdo books and keeping the art updated is a major issue...


message 9: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 102 comments I'm not a fan of six-packs, but I am a fan of red...thus I love the bottom part of Moning's book. Does that make me bad? :P


message 10: by Rachel (last edited Apr 27, 2015 12:20PM) (new)

Rachel Chanticleer (rachelchanticleer) | 39 comments I can appreciate everything from sexy torsos to uncluttered covers featuring an object or two along with some amazing typography. As long it's well done, I'm happy. ☺

Here's a UF cover that caught my eye recently:




message 11: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments G.G. wrote: "I'm not a fan of six-packs, but I am a fan of red...thus I love the bottom part of Moning's book. Does that make me bad? :P"

No it doesn't! The bottom half is actually not bad! It's the theme part that makes me mad. The execution is not that bad at all. I mean, it doesn't hurt the eyes, but you know what I mean :D

Brittain (Tara Belle Talking) wrote: "Exactly. Hell, DeviantArt would probably be a good place to start.

Susanna Kearsley writes the best book boyfriends. Robbie and Hugh...dear lord. Although the one with Hugh isn't paranormal at all..."


Exactly! DeviantArt is an incubator of great artists that would be really happy to do a cover art for someone! Hell, the majority of their fantasy-themed art looks like great book-covers.
Oh, and I think I'll try with Susanna Kearsley, I really love her covers, and I like the sound of the books! I'm in constant search for my new obsession :D

Lawrence wrote: "I absolutely loathe covers with six-eight pack guys, usually faceless, brooding or whatever. Not because I have anything against guys who are in shape (I take a lot of pride in that myself), but i..."

Yes, I do get where you're coming from and can say to agree with you on the most parts. However, I took a look at your books' artworks and they are precicely the type of artwork I was talking about when talking about badly photosopped work. I hope you don't take offense, I'm only being honest here. Who did those covers? Did you pay for them? Theme-wise, they are fine! No catchy cliches. But the technical aspect of them is really bad, I'm sorry to say.

K.P. wrote: "i always had a hard time with covers because a) my art tend to be horribly dated, b) i'm colorblind as all get out and c) i tend to get too 'artsy' and not stick with conventions. (like how you can..."

That must be tough to have to judge the covers and not see colors! But the "artsy" part doesn't have to bad, or conventional, but some rules of the visual art still might apply. I didn't quite understand, did you do your covers by yourself?

Rachel wrote: "I can appreciate everything from sexy torsos to uncluttered covers featuring an object or two along with some amazing typography. As long it's well done, I'm happy. ☺

Here's a UF cover that caught..."


Love that one! Really well done both technically and theme-wise. I mean, I haven't read the blurb, but the title really matches the art.


message 12: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments No offense taken, X. What are the bad technical aspects that stand out, in your opinion?


message 13: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Lee | 4 comments I second the Susanna Kearsley Shadowy Horses Cover. It is so lovely and simple! The Shadowy Horses


message 14: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 30 comments xeniya - signet & the viewer were paid for. the others i designed. i get flack for signet because folks think i got gypped by the pro artist and the concept was lost on most readers.


message 15: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 30 comments yes it is hard seeing colors. i send out my art to associates who will let me know if its garish or wrong schema or if i have too many of similar type (like turquoise cyan bluegreen and greenblue. i cant tell the difference!)
when my monitor was going out i had no clue and until i got wtf type complaints from clients over mockups. i found my monitor made color typing worse and had to get a new one. from then on i send out my prototypes before submitting to clients.


message 16: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "No offense taken, X. What are the bad technical aspects that stand out, in your opinion?"

I'll take this one as an example:



First thing that comes into view are those two badly cut girls. The photoshopping here is really terrible. It seems that someone used scissors and paper instead of photoshop, and even that badly. Colors are also very badly matched, there are too many of them and those existing ones don't complement each other at all. Also, different elements of the cover seem to have their own color adjustment, they're not blended together at all. There's also the font issue. By a rule, there should not be more than two font types, better yet only one. You have 4. Every line has it's own font and color.

All this put together makes a viewer get comfused, it's just too much of a mess.

I hope you wont be offended, it's really not in my interest to make anyone feel bad. I just like an honest discussion, and I like to see how others see things :)

Meredith wrote: "I second the Susanna Kearsley Shadowy Horses Cover. It is so lovely and simple! The Shadowy Horses"

Yes! Love it! The black frame is just a tiiiiiny bit too strong, but overall a very nice cover!

K.P. wrote: "xeniya - signet & the viewer were paid for. the others i designed. i get flack for signet because folks think i got gypped by the pro artist and the concept was lost on most readers."

I can't see the signet, The Viewer is done in a different style from the others and it's not that bad! I may like the style or not, but it certainly has more professional look than your other books.

Again, I hope no one gets offended, but I do suggest you take a professional artist for your next books. It's a shame to diminish the value of your stories with non-professional cover art. Take a look at DeviantArt, there really are a LOT of great artists, and some are cheap!


message 17: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments Thanks, X, for taking the time to offer your thoughts. Actually, I did use scissors and paper! :)

I did contact a couple of Deviant Art people. Both didn't like what I wanted; for example, one refused because I wanted the heroine to be holding garden shears instead of a sword! Seriously. I've tried three other graphic artists, and one problem that kept coming up was stock photos. They didn't want to create an original person or scene. Instead, they dug up a model whose been on other covers, which won't work for me. (On the other hand, should I even care if stock models make my books sell? If I knew they would, then I'd forgo my esthetics.)

I have continued to work on my covers, and I think there's been considerable improvement (the stuff on Goodreads is largely defunct; these are more recent efforts: http://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-Ambros... Still, I'm fairly sure you wouldn't like those, either.

The main question I have is how representative someone's views are of readers in general. Clearly, any individual may hate or love a particular cover, but when many or most individuals dislike it, you're in trouble. Would you say you represent the typical reader or are you more of a graphic artist in your perceptions?


message 18: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments Yikes - I just took the time to look at your photo. Whoa. Are you available for being on a cover?? :)

I've considered placing an ad or even just asking women and men in the gym to pose for photos, but I've never worked up the nerve. And I have no idea how much to pay them. But I like that idea of having an original model or work of art versus one of the stock people/scenes on my covers.


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments On Goodreads, there is a bit of a vacuum and to some extent, we don't represent the vast majority of readers. We are the intense readers as opposed to the ones that wander through a bookstore occasionally.

I feel like a lot of people on here have artistic backgrounds of some sort and can recognize when a cover needs a bit more curb appeal. Books can easily get ripped apart for a bad cover and I am one of the first to admit that a cover has the ability to make me love or hate a book on a first impression.

The safe way to go is to use simple covers if you aren't confident in your art. Easy to read fonts and maybe one focal point. Putting people on covers instantly complicates things but a well drawn symbol is clean and usually pleasing to the eye.


message 20: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments That seems like good advice, Brittain. You have to learn to crawl before you walk, etc. I wish I didn't love bringing my characters to "artistic life" so much. That was a completely unexpected joy for me.

Good point about Goodreaders. I hadn't considered that they represent a particular niche of dedicated readers. But then those are exactly the readers authors aim for, no?


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments Exactly but if you are aiming for commercial appeal and being noticed in bookstores by casual readers, you have to have covers that are visually striking.

Personal experience:
Walking through a bookstore and go past the fantasy/sci-fi shelf. There are dozens of the same idea with space ships, dragons, swords and whatever else. None stand out. They don't catch my eye because they are all so similar. Go to the YA/NA section and the covers are all different so they are able to distinguish themselves. The ones with the pretty covers are facing forward and have the ability to distract and attract.

When you think about it, Twilight (as much as I hate that anything in that book was done correctly) had good covers for the market. One color theme throughout and the image was striking. It worked well and it wasn't a supernatural battle happening on the cover or the Nicholas Sparks "white people almost kissing" cover.


message 22: by Lawrence (last edited Apr 28, 2015 09:33AM) (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments You hit on one of my objections to book covers these days: so many of them look as though they were cut from the same mold. I think I can see the influence of the received wisdom: make your covers look professional by adhering to steps 1 - 10. I wouldn't have drawn your distinction between NA/YA and SF/Fantasy. To me that same homogeneity applies to NA/YA as well. I've had professional cover designers tell me that the goal is not to stand out too much - to make your cover convey the same themes as other covers in its genre. For instance, the rule Xeniya quotes about how many different fonts one may use on a cover seems typical of the objective-sounding standards the experts proclaim; but how objective, truly, are they?

The one thing I think is pretty objective is the technical quality of an image - blurriness, bad edges, etc. The other objective thing is if lots of people reject or accept your novel because of its cover art. I'd love to see a feedback form on Amazon for readers that allows them to comment on cover design, description, writing quality, and so on. That would be invaluable for self-published authors.


Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink* (bwilliams2013) | 91 comments On Netgalley, you can thumb up or down a cover. I'm not sure if you can provide other feedback but I know a lot of reviewers (including myself) make a point of discussing covers in their reviews.


message 24: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "Thanks, X, for taking the time to offer your thoughts. Actually, I did use scissors and paper! :)

I did contact a couple of Deviant Art people. Both didn't like what I wanted; for example, one r..."


Oh well, then - good job :D I mean, that must've been hard to do! I don't think I did those things since elementary school :D

But seriously now, desginers refused to do the cover? One 'cause of what she was supposed to hold? Seriously? I mean, seriously?? Stock photos and model photos really are pain in the ass to come by, especially if you're not a photographer. I know, I spend more time on searching suitable photos than actually doing art! And no, you shouldn't really care if someone uses photo of a model that's been used before. That sounded wrong :D I mean, stock photos are commonly used by all designers and trust me, it's the way of using the photo that will make it good, not the fact that the particular photo or model wasn't used before for cover art. And anyway, if you really want an exclusive right to own some photos (models you just can't :D), you could buy artistic rights. That might be expensive, tho.

I have an advantage of being a photographer, too, but often I still have to use other's stock photos (free or buy them). And you CAN ask someone to pose for your covers, but again, use professional photographer and designer to do them.

Shit, I'm late for my workout. I'll finish this topic later.

I really like how the discussion turned out here :)


message 25: by Lawrence (last edited Apr 28, 2015 10:36AM) (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments It's true (about refusing to use a pair of garden shears)! I couldn't believe it, either. The other artist wasn't fond of having a young girl portrayed in a warrior-light, which to me was almost equally startling. But then they might be entirely atypical - and I was just unlucky.

Well, I really dislike seeing my character model's face on other books. Not because of someone else "using her" - I'm not that much of a prude :) - but I'd prefer that my character be uniquely portrayed. Funny that I have all these old farmhouses around here and yet I chose a photo online as my background for ONE RULE. I just haven't found the perfect old farmhouse yet...and got tired of being chased off the properties by large dogs. :)

I'm about to begin a workout, too. The "re-shingling" workout on my roof. I'd much rather lift weights. :(


message 26: by J. (new)

J. (jwhiteaz) | 71 comments Yes, I'm a super reader. Even before Kindle and Goodreads existed. When shopping bookstores I do look at covers - mainly the backside with the synopsis. Simplicity and colors will attract my attention but the synopsis better match the cover. If I get mixed signals I'll put the book back. ie. The author hasn't conveyed to the artist what the story is about and what is important in selling this story so maybe the writing isn't that good either.

I almost try to avoid looking at covers because I'm not interested in beefy guys / ravishing women or cartoon characters. I want a good story. Indie authors have a disadvantage in getting the quality cover art of an established author but the indie story may even be better than the established author.

So I would say 25% cover art, 25% Title, and 50% story description in choosing my next read.

And BTW, when the Authors name attracts more attention than the Title of the book -- stay away. It's telling me read this book based on the author, not that it's interesting or a good book. Even the best have written some stinkers. :)


message 27: by Xen (last edited Apr 28, 2015 02:30PM) (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Brittain (Tara Belle Talking) wrote: "On Goodreads, there is a bit of a vacuum and to some extent, we don't represent the vast majority of readers. We are the intense readers as opposed to the ones that wander through a bookstore occas..."

COMPLETELY agree with you on this one! You nailed what I think! I too thought of the Twilight covers being great, tho I'm really not a fan. It's a great example of how the simplicity works.

Oh, and I don't think me, or many readers here on Goodreads - represent the majority of the readers. Brittain put it well, we're too much into it, we're too intense. Books are my only hobby to relax, as I'm actually lucky to have my other hobbies as a job. I take it too seriously, plus I'm an artist and do look at those visual things with more criticism than an average reader would.

However, if you want something to attract the eyes of most readers, even those that read only occasionaly, you need to make covers that are aestetically pleasing. And, really, artists and art techers have made a science of it, it's not just a matter of likes and dislikes. Many rules work on vast majority of people.


J. wrote: "Yes, I'm a super reader. Even before Kindle and Goodreads existed. When shopping bookstores I do look at covers - mainly the backside with the synopsis. Simplicity and colors will attract my att..."

J, I agree with you on the percentage, more or less. And even if you're right that sometimes it's the authors's name that sells books, rather than the quality of it, I still have some authors on auto-buy. I can't help it even if I sometimes get dissapointed. I's a loyalty thing, I guess :D

P.S. It's been a hell of a workout. I wont be able to hold my e-reader :D


message 28: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments I don't you if you two would like my stuff or not, but the scary thing is you might like it and would never give it a chance because of the covers. Scary, because "intense readers" are exactly the kind that I and no doubt all authors wet-dream about. ;/


message 29: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments Xeniya wrote: "It's been a hell of a workout. I wont be able to hold my e-reader :D "

I tore off about 1000 square feet of shingles. I'm not even sure I'll be able to toast myself with a single can of beer. But I suspect I'll find a way... :)


message 30: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 30 comments eh im not rich to hire some dude from art school charging exorbitant prices when i can do it myself for reduced cost (yea i have an art degree and have worked in publishing for 10 years). i havent been able to afford special glasses that help me see color (my money mainly in computer repair) so i've been faking all this time.
i've had mixed reviews with my cover art. some say its good some say its not. some say the pro i paid for sucks and some say its good. and im not sweating about any of it because art is subjective. if i have to worry about every reader that may perchance among my works (which are already hard to define) then i will loose what sanity i have left.
each particular series i create has a theme and certain look i meticulously plan in advance, down to the fonts. not all the current hip styles can fit to all kinds of books. some just dont work.
thanks for your opinion though. i'll keep it in mind.


message 31: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "I don't you if you two would like my stuff or not, but the scary thing is you might like it and would never give it a chance because of the covers. Scary, because "intense readers" are exactly the..."

I always thought all authors' wet dream is to be on the New York Times bestsellers list, is it not? :) I mean, you might want your loyal readers to support you, but in the end, we all want our art to be seen by as many as possible. Art form really doesn't matter. And then again, a good cover will most likely be attractive to the vast majority of readers. My thoughts, anyway.

Have you thought about posting a poll somewhere? Amazon for example? You might get better reviews then...

Lawrence wrote:I tore off about 1000 square feet of shingles. I'm not even sure I'll be able to toast myself with a single c..."

You'll find a way all right. But, now you have to put them back :D

K.P. wrote: "eh im not rich to hire some dude from art school charging exorbitant prices when i can do it myself for reduced cost (yea i have an art degree and have worked in publishing for 10 years). i havent ..."

I wasn't talking about some art school dudes, or even the most renomated self-thought artists which can charge what they want, there are a lot of self-thought artists that are not very famous, but are very good.
However, it's always your call, and will :) It's your story, your art, and that's what matters the most.



Oh btw. Lawrence, I just thought of something. We're talking about using photos etc. in covers, but there are artists that do art from scratch. No photos, only their skills and their graphic tablet. I mean, they can create a character from your descriptions and it will never be anyone else.
Here's one I admire:
http://mathiaarkoniel.deviantart.com/


message 32: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Nacole (brandynacole) | 72 comments I don't like covers where there is a lot going on, but something simple and powerful. But the "simple" concept can be taken too lightly and not give you a clear picture of what is going on. There is a small margin in my opinion, one that many hit, when it comes to balance on a cover. Above the margin you have too much, but below the margin you don't give your readers a clear grasp of what the book is about.


message 33: by Shelby (new)

Shelby Suderman | 60 comments Well, Ive been finding my covers at selfpubbookcovers.com They have a lot of amazing options for $69 US and up.


message 34: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Brandy wrote: "I don't like covers where there is a lot going on, but something simple and powerful. But the "simple" concept can be taken too lightly and not give you a clear picture of what is going on. There i..."

I right there with you on that!

Shelby wrote: "Well, Ive been finding my covers at selfpubbookcovers.com They have a lot of amazing options for $69 US and up."

Ugh... It's not that they're that bad, but it goes against everything artist in me. It's just my crazy vision, don't mind me...


message 35: by Anna, LoP BOTM & R2R mod (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) | 795 comments Mod
I've got covers I commissioned for original artwork. But the problem is, nobody wants to PAY for a book anymore. I just can't justify coughing up $600 or more per cover (this isn't a judgment on my cover artist or the worth of the artwork ... this is a hard-nosed business assessment about ROI Return-On-Investment. So now I do my covers myself. They're just okay. Little by little I've been getting better. After 'doing it right' and ending up thousands of dollars in the hole, now I do everything myself. It's not perfect, but it's good enough. If one of my books breaks out, then perhaps I'll get the entire series redone?

But I -did- just commission my artist on that one series to do the cover for Book 4... Gotta splurge someplace :-)


message 36: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Anna wrote: "I've got covers I commissioned for original artwork. But the problem is, nobody wants to PAY for a book anymore. I just can't justify coughing up $600 or more per cover (this isn't a judgment on my..."



Yes, that might be a problem with "smaller" authors. I know that investment must be returned at some point, or you've got yourself a very expensive hobby.

Your covers are not bad at all, actually. So you do a good job yourself. :)


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan Catalano (susancatalano) | 33 comments Anna wrote: "I've got covers I commissioned for original artwork. But the problem is, nobody wants to PAY for a book anymore. I just can't justify coughing up $600 or more per cover (this isn't a judgment on my..."

I know what you mean, Anna. Everything adds up - the editing, cover art. I'm fortunate that my son goes to an art & design school and does the cover art for my books (working on book 2 now). I do pay him, but not as much as I would a stranger. I also feed him ;)


message 38: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments For an upcoming blog "Cover Quandaries" I've been doing some research into book covers and their relationship to sales, and I've yet to find anything resembling scientific research on the subject. What I have found is lots of people - usually self-identifying as artists - offering strong opinions in the tone of proclaiming objective truths. I have yet to encounter any self-proclaimed art expert who says, "In my opinion"; it's all "such and such is *bad* and such and such is "good" - sans subjective qualification. When I've pressed a few they did back off a little and acknowledge some subjective elements are involved in artistic evaluation, but their opening statements are all of the categorical assertion category.

I do think there is a general consensus among artists about certain rules, but as with writing, those rules can be violated at times to good effect. I also think it would be possible to perform scientific studies of some aspects of art relating to commercial success, but it wouldn't be easy to parse out the myriad factors, and my impression is that most people who have strong opinions about covers don't feel the need for science or in-depth aesthetic analysis to tell them what they already know to be true. :)


message 39: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "For an upcoming blog "Cover Quandaries" I've been doing some research into book covers and their relationship to sales, and I've yet to find anything resembling scientific research on the subject. ..."

I believe you're right, Lawrence! I must admit I just did find my self a bit in your description. I'm not a cover artist, but am an artist so my opinions may largely differ from an averege reader's.

I had a discussion with someone just a week or so ago about the "rules" in art and design. I was strongly agains some rigid rules being the only "true" way of doing art. Then I find my self quoting some rules here. I think I just cought my self being a hypocrite, yay :D

And back on the serious note here, I DO think there ARE some rules. They're not rigid, and are made to be broken. However, we are thought from the begining (weather it's a photography or any other visual art) that the rules must be thought and learned. You cannot brake something you know nothing about, true?

I'm learning every day, but what is the most important thing is remebering that art, as such, should never be science, and should never be subjected to a set of rigid rules. Art is an expression, impression and must represent the person who made it, his/hers feelings. At least, that's the point.
Covers, on the other hand, have a use, a purpose, and cannot be made as a sole artist's expression. However, I don't think the commercial success of a cover has anything to do with what I, or any other artist/designer think. Our view is surely different from others'. That's why I think an independed pool or research would be much better to land some light on the topic. I would very much like to know the results, too!


message 40: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments Yeah, X, for me the actual artistic merit of something and its commercial appeal are two different subjects. I think there are reasonable rules, too, in art - including writing - but they're useful as guides rather than absolute dictums.

It would be really, really difficult to perform a rigorous study on how cover art relates to sales. I pointed out to a cover artist (I love his covers generally) that some covers he thought were great weren't selling. He said, "True, but that's probably because the novel isn't appealing." I pointed out that it might also be because the cover isn't appealing (or maybe the description was off) There simply wasn't any way know other than do some difficult research on it. He conceded the point, but remained certain that the cover was great so that it likely was the novel's story that was the problem. There's a strong presumption that a cover is very important - which I'm sure is true - but to jump from that to the assumption that you know which cover will melt people's hearts or minds is a lot more problematic, I think. :) And yes, I have replaced most of the shingles now. I calculated that I carried 3 tons of shingles up to the roof. What a great workout! My lower back feels like I was struck from behind by a semi. Next time I'm paying someone to do it. :)


message 41: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "Yeah, X, for me the actual artistic merit of something and its commercial appeal are two different subjects. I think there are reasonable rules, too, in art - including writing - but they're usefu..."

People are very different. And tastes are everything! I know that my favourites are never others', too.

But really, there must be a study or something about the correlation of cover-art commerial use and readers wanting to read the book. I'm sure that bigger publishers did the homework before printing tons of books with (possibly bad) covers.

And yeah, I do believe you have trouble with your back now, but if you'd paid someone else you'd lose money on that account, and you'd had to pay the gym time :D This was a win-win situation :D Oh and, I ruined my back, too. I have to stay home doing nothing now... Ugh.


message 42: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments I don't know - maybe there is a study somewhere, but I haven't found it. I'm sorry to hear about your back. I hope it's short-lived. It's funny how little gym strength prepares you for real-world blue-collar "man's work." I can deadlift many times the weight of a shingles packet (around 60 lbs.), but after carrying a hundred of them up a ladder...I'm reduced to a quivering weakling. Anyhow, I wish us both a speedy recovery. At least we still have our minds, no? (Please don't say "no";-).


message 43: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Lawrence wrote: "I don't know - maybe there is a study somewhere, but I haven't found it. I'm sorry to hear about your back. I hope it's short-lived. It's funny how little gym strength prepares you for real-worl..."

If you do find it - share :)

Yeah, you'd think you have the strenght or stamina to do some things, but it turnes out your body doesn't really agree with what you think :D That would be the answer to your "great minds". I didn't say "no" :D


message 44: by Anna, LoP BOTM & R2R mod (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) | 795 comments Mod
I used to sweat the covers like mad, but now I view them the same way I do my flesh-and-blood children. At any time I can revamp my covers, update the files, and dress one of my babies up. What's important is to get the babies out there, dressed well enough for the weather to survive, and then you can go back later when you come into a little money and buy that nice party dress for the prom.

My first baby will now be getting a new cover because the third book in the series earned me enough money to afford it and that book has to do the heavy lifting for the rest of the series. Usually by the time somebody reads my second book, they're hooked. They'd buy it with a brown paper cover with lipstick on it. So first-books are always a priority ROI-wise for allocating those scarce artwork dollars.

I still do my own graphics, whether or not I commission artwork, and usually crop the image to look good on a cover. Depending on the distribution platform, I might have to size up the graphics to be read, while on the POD edition I can usually size them down to let the artwork be more visible. Graphics are a purely commercial activity, while the artist who created my angel-paintings is a fine artist. I know she cringes when she sees the big block letters covering some element she spend days perfecting, but sometimes it is necessary :-P


message 45: by Xen (new)

Xen Randell (xeniya) | 29 comments Anna wrote: "I used to sweat the covers like mad, but now I view them the same way I do my flesh-and-blood children. At any time I can revamp my covers, update the files, and dress one of my babies up. What's i..."

I like your attitude. I mean, it's only understandable you can only do what you can afford, or do your self. If the book pays of? Then it's natural you'd want to invest in your other or previous books, too.

And that first book in a series point is actually very good. :)


message 46: by Heather (new)

Heather Blair (lovelyshivers) | 46 comments Brittain (Tara Belle Talking) wrote: "Exactly. A lot of it has become excessively generic. I understand that you're working with a budget but there are easy ways to get good cover art.

I'm like you, I like simple. I like clean covers ..."


Those are gorgeous!


message 47: by Missyb (new)

Missyb | 8 comments Xeniya wrote: "I've searched a bit this group and haven't found a discussion regarding cover art for our fave genre. I just might be blind, sorry if there already is one :)

Anyway, what about covers? Do you judg..."


I kind of like both covers. Moning's series is on my TBR list but not the other book. As an artist you probably look at it with a different eye then the rest of us might. I spent 17 years as a school photographer, and when I look at a picture I look at the technical stuff first. It's just habit.


message 48: by Missyb (new)

Missyb | 8 comments Covers are the first impression people get of a book. If a cover catches my eye then I check it out more to see if I might like it. I sometimes search for a specific author, but often I'm scrolling through "if you liked this, then you might like this" lists & it's the cover that gets me to stop.

If the main character is a red head and her hair color is a big part of her & the story, then don't put a blonde on the cover. That I can't stand. Don't put a wolf on the cover if it's about vampires.

I think the hot shirtless guy is a easy cover because it gets a woman's attention. Usually romance books are geared towards women, and a cover with a hot shirtless guy is doing it's job by drawing our attention. It's sexist, and shouldn't be the case, but it's marketing & the name of the game is to sell books. Personally I don't mind the hot guy on the cover as long as the story is there to go with it.


message 49: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  (jessical1961) There are so many covers with the "hot shirtless guy" on the cover, don't you feel it has become rather cliche? Even on M/M romance covers the vast majority of them have the same thing on them. I would love to see more creativity in covers, and get away from the cliche.


message 50: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 50 comments It's funny. Most women I've asked about the cliche "shirtless buff guy" don't have any problem with it; they even speak of it semi-approvingly (as does Missyb above). It's hard to argue with numbers. Women buy the most books, and thus dominate the industry. Still the utter cliche mindlessness of these covers, well, blows my mind. Most of the guys don't even have heads - it's just their torso and chest. Talk about "objectifying" someone! Aside from the cliche, all these mostly headless models look like they came from the same mold. So what's the romance about - forming this deep connection with an interchangeable body as opposed to a unique individual? The equivalent would be placing generic topless-headless women on covers. I wonder what the response would be to that? I'm almost tempted... :)


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