I buy my books based on recommendations and reviews, and in the past I’ve never paid much attention to the packaging, especially as I know that often traditionally published authors don’t have much say over their covers. They’re the publisher’s responsibility, designed by the marketing department to sell as many books as possible, and sometimes they aren’t a perfect reflection of the story inside.
Covers follow trends and often look same-y to me, so as long as the typography and the cover match my expectations of the subgenre, I’ve always felt that was good enough. Historicals will most likely have a swooshing font and maybe some man-chest or a woman’s bare back draped in a colorful, fabulous gown. Suspense will have clean, strong, modern, well-spaced news-type fonts over dark, shadowy action figures or landscapes, perhaps with flames or bullets or a sniper scope or some scary touch. And so on.
I’ve been paying much more attention lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading more fantasy, where it seems to be fashionable to use artwork rather than photographs, or perhaps because self-publishing offers an author the possibility to choose a cover that more closely reflects their book even if it doesn’t follow all the ‘selling’ rules, but I’ve seen some lovely ones recently. Images that have made me look up the cover artist and drool over their portfolio.
One of my favorite ten-minute daydreams has been to try to imagine what the cover of my WIP, a romantic fantasy starring a kick-ass six-foot tall shaven-headed young woman called Alexis Doe, would look like in the hands of a talented cover artist.
The image at the top of the page is my favorite placeholder image for Alexis (I have it as my screen-saver so it’s the first thing I see every day when I power up my laptop). It’s not so much the appearance of the model I like, but her expression – Alexis is a determined young woman and it shows in her eyes, mouth and chin.
Here are three book covers I love and find inspiring, with links for each to the cover artist’s website.
Sweep In Peace is the second book in Ilona Andrews’ self-published Innkeeper series. I love the book and the art, by Doris from Disanthus, captures the heroine, Dina, and the feel of the book perfectly. To see more from Disanthus click here, or find images of other characters and some free wallpaper on Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper site (link here).
Radiance is the first book in Grace Draven’s Wraith Kings series. The book itself is beautiful – well-written, clever, courtly and kind – and the cover perfectly captures the feel of the story and the two main characters, one human and the other not. The art is by Isis Sousa of Helheimen Design (link here).
I haven’t read any of Gini Koch’s Alien series, but I saw the covers in a marketing email from Amazon and was totally wowed by them. Alien Tango, shown here, is book two of the series, which is now up to thirteen books (I think). Viewed side by side the covers look fabulous – here’s a link to Amazon (not because I’m recommending the books but because my laptop thought there might be a problem with Gini Koch’s website). The books are published by sci-fi/fantasy indie DAW, with covers by Daniel Dos Santos (link here).
I’m still writing Alexis, but I’ve decided that imagining her cover art is part of the discovery process. I have no idea what any of these artists would cost. They’re probably way beyond my means but a girl can dream, and – who knows? – maybe I’ll have a lottery win one of these weekends. If I do, this will be my idea of a great shopping spree 😀 .
Do any of the above artists do it for you? Can you see why I think they’d be wonderful for Alexis? If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them.
Or if any of your favorite authors in any genre have really great covers, I’d be fascinated to know which ones and what makes them especially good.