Put a Pretty Picture on it! discussion

To feature the main character... or not?

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I've been trying to make some decisions regarding the cover to the book I am working on and I am torn between including an image of the main character or not.

Part of me feels that it may help draw a reader in, as well as give them a very well defined picture of our heroine as they read, however I also like the idea of them forming their own mental image.

One thing I know I hate as a reader is when I form this mental image of a character, and then a movie or a tv show comes out and i just can't reconcile them. A good example is Twilight - Yes Kristen Stewart sort of fits the general description of Bella, but she doesn't fit my mental picture. It at times made it harder for me. I think featuring the heroine on the cover is a good way to make sure the image the author intends to portray of a character, is exactly the one the reader gets.

So, now that I'm done rambling, I'd love other input. To feature a character or perhaps feature a theme instead?

message 2: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 6 comments Mod
I've been in exactly this conversation with my publisher about my book. And like you, I'm thinking I'd like the reader to form their own mental image of ALL the characters. To that end, I'm leaning toward making a cover that's more symbolic in nature, rather than specifically pointed to any one character...

message 3: by Carrie (new)

Carrie | 2 comments Kelly,

Many covers HINT at the main character, whether they show the character from the neck down (so the reader is left to create the most important part - the face), or from the back, or in a deep shadow. I have to admit, I like this technique. In paranormal fiction, the main character is really important and gives the reader an immediate sense of what the book is about (vampire, werewolf, fantasy, zombie etc.). Certain visual aspects can really trigger supernatural, scary, beautiful - and lure a reader in. But, by teasing, you leave most of the character to the reader's imagination once they pick-up the book.

For my own book cover, I used a tease technique. An old statue in my novel (of the main character) plays into the plot of the story. So, rather than show the "real" main character, I show a glimpse of her, as depicted by the statue.

Anyway - my two cents.


The Sounding by Carrie Salo

message 4: by Duncan (new)

Duncan | 6 comments I regularly illustrate the main characters for book covers. This can make a very powerful and captivating cover since people tend to connect with people -- even if they're just a painting on a cover (and this is probably the main reason that many covers from large publishers have a portrait with the character "looking" at the viewer)..

The main thing when asking an illustrator to do such a cover for you is to relay to the artist the age, skin tone, hair color and length, and dress; giving the disposition of the character may be a big help, too.. Also the artist should know the genre of your book.

Sometimes telling the artist what actor you'd have play the part if you were casting a movie can be a big help (just understand that for reasons of copyright, the illustrator can't create an exact representation).

It's good to remember that the artist is not likely to create the exact picture you have in your mind. Rather than try to recreate your mind's eye picture and needlessly take up the artist's time and/or waste money for unneeded changes, accept a version of your character provided it is within the confines of your description in your book and looks good.

I can remember buying a few books just because of the character on the cover. And what a joy when that character conforms to the description in the book. Then the character really comes to life.

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