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The Importance of Awesome Cover Art

January 18, 2012
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I’m pretty particular about covers. Maybe because I’m utterly spoiled by Nathie. The awesome work Nathie does ensures that my characters are absolutely brought to life on a cover. I have prints made of the artwork and, eventually, I’ll display the covers in my home. I love how a vague description can bring about the most detailed, beautiful artwork that embodies my story and characters as I never imagined.

And while many authors/readers don’t like drawn covers, I wonder if it’s actually badly drawn covers they simply don’t like. Because I just can’t understand the desire for the headless torso covers. I just can’t. I think I’ve only had one cover done that way (Advent: Collected Shorts), which I did on purpose because it was a short story collection and I only wanted to hint at what was inside. I couldn’t pick ONE couple to put on the cover as there were 46 stories! 😄

I tend to keep my eye out for cover announcements, and then I shake my head when I dare to look. The floating heads above a nondescript landscape seems to be pretty popular at the moment, and I have to say, they look as generic as can be. It’s like the Harlequin covers: interchangeable and easily forgettable. I don’t want an easily forgettable cover on my books. Call me a narcissist, but my books are unique pieces of art that deserve to be clad in the same.

But I’m a harsh critic when it comes to covers. I have high expectations of the artists I work with, and when they fall short, they know it. I’d just love to see less of these inexpensive stock photo covers and more unique art that tells the reader something about what they’ll find inside. I admit, I barely buy new books anymore based on covers because they all look alike! It’s sad. I will pass if the cover isn’t something interesting. Even authors I like will be passed over because my immediate thought it, ‘Oh, it looks like their last book. I don’t need to read the same thing twice.’

Because, quite honestly, that’s how I feel about Harlequin novels. I started reading those when I was fourteen, and by the time I was eighteen, I felt I’d read them all! They were the same plots and characters recycled over and over. I haven’t even glanced at a Harlequin for my own reading enjoyment in years (though I buy them frequently for my mother who calls them her ‘popcorn’ books—books she can read quickly and easily between longer, more difficult reads). It makes me a little sad for my niche genre to think that’s where we’re moving toward.

I want unique plots, diverse characters, and cover art that shows those aspects of the work. I know publishers can be cheap, and custom art can run upwards of $500+, but… gods! It shows how much you believe in the book, the author, to invest in the a beautiful, one-of-a-kind cover. Please! For all that is good, give me beautiful covers! I want to love the outsides as much as the insides because, really, guys, we do judge a book by its cover. 😉

(Brief side note: OMG, Nathie’s work on K. Piet’s and my next release, Pawns Book I: Stalemate? Fucking gorgeous. Gor.Ge.Ous. I can’t wait to share! :D)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carole-Ann permalink
    January 18, 2012 2:10 pm

    Don’t ‘they’ say that a cover sells the book??

    Sometimes, yes; but other times the cover is a complete work of art! and means MUCH more!

    Going back to sci-fi in the 60’s and 70’s there were a lot of modern artists who created the most stupendous covers for some books – I have managed to collect a number of art books which show the covers as they were meant to be seen – and I cannot afford the originals/prints which these artists offer to the general public!

    So, yes, to me, the cover means a great deal; and you are so lucky in having an artist working with you!! 🙂
    Hugs
    Carole-Ann

  2. January 18, 2012 2:55 pm

    Nathie does AWESOME covers. I am very in love with the one for Power in the Blood. It’s my second favorite cover of all time, and giving my favorite (Sky-Rat) a run for its money.

    I’ve had a lot of headless torsos because the models never seem to have the right faces. We did ok with Robin Hood, but still came up in the Bad Cover Art contest with him. (Hes ten times better than the pumpkin molestor who is on one cover)

    My reprint collections tend to get stock photos, ebcause that’s all i can afford. I do try to gussy them up a little, like replacing a mistletoe berry with a full moon for one cover.

  3. January 18, 2012 5:41 pm

    Carole-Anne — For me, cover art is incredibly important. I will not buy a book with ugly or cheap looking cover art. Part of the price of a book includes the design, and if the design is crap, then I feel everything else will be crap, too. It can show how a publisher doesn’t care much about the product they put out. I can name a dozen publishers–some of them considered top publishers–who I feel do that. In my mind, I don’t want to reward them for half-assing something as important as a cover.

    And I know I’m so very, very lucky to have Nathie and Sylwia working with us. They’re both talented, wonderful artists who produce amazing covers.

  4. January 18, 2012 5:42 pm

    Angelia — I’m often surprised at the generic covers that make it onto the Best Covers lists or win awards. Covers that are nothing more than pasting together some stock photos with some filters. I don’t see that as creative or worthy of note. The covers I remember are original, beautiful, and speak directly to me about what I’ll find inside. Headless torsos, more often than not, just tell me the gender and number of sex partners, nothing more. 🙂

    The purpose of a cover is to make the potential customer say, “Wow, that intrigues me; I want to know more about this book.” And headless torso images almost never accomplish that goal. Especially as certain stock images are beginning to be reused by multiple authors.

    Reprints, I can understand. This is something that even Storm Moon Press will do when publishing the short stories that were originally part of our anthologies. But even then, we work with photoshoppers who strive to maintain the original look and feel that is so important to us.

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