Judging books by their covers. Or at least judging covers by their covers

Now, I don’t want to throw shade and I don’t want to have shade thrown back at me. I wasn’t saying anything new about those Fifty Shades books. Anyone on Amazon is going to tell you the same. But, probably without cholera references. At least I hope. God forbid I plagiarize someone.

Anyway. I’ve been talking with my graphic designer about my cover for Just For Kicks, and she wanted me to find examples of what I like and examples of what I don’t like. I will happily be a little rah rah cheerleader for good design and only mention the features I don’t like on those other covers.

One of my biggest complaints about romance novel covers are the lack of corresponding details. If you’re writing a Regency piece, don’t put the heroine on your cover in a Badgley Mischka gown. If little details are super mega important to your story, don’t skip it on the cover. And yes, I know, I’m being one of those picky, hard to please assholes, but for the love of Mike, if you make something important in your story, put it on your cover. And I know it’s expensive and I know it’s hard and I know it sucks, but- ugh. Which leads me to my other big complaint, low quality.

It’s the difference between buying a leather jacket from Nordstom versus Walmart. The jacket you get at Walmart is going to have sparkles and patches and doodads and a bunch of shit that is nothing but extra shit. The jacket you get at Nordstrom is just a leather jacket. Maybe some fur lining the collar, but it’s not going to have a bunch of extras to distract you from the deplorable quality of the jacket. That’s what I want for my cover. I don’t want bling and sparkles and the Bedazzler. I want an Italian leather jacket. Clean lines, accessible, holds up to the test of time, a classic.

Here are some of the covers I sent her that I do like. Interesting and grabs your eye, but also gives all the necessary information without being coy.

This, I think is brilliant:


Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Lovely cover. Interesting, little tidbits of all kinds of things. But clean, easy to read, good font.

I also like this:

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. Fabulous book. Amazing writing. If I could write like this… well, I’m just going to say I’m jealous. The cover embodies the book in such a perfect way.

So, I am taking a page out of their play books and I am going to have an illustrated cover. I’ve started playing with a couple things and I think it will work. I’m hoping my sense of style and design will keep me on the straight and narrow and I hope I can afford the production values that I like. And I hope my graphic designer will rein me in if I should go way too far off the path.

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