Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cover Me

I can't help myself. As I'm dreaming of that big book contract that's just on the horizon (perhaps a belated Christmas present?), I've been noticing book covers and dreaming of what my own could be. The blue boards hosted a thread about covers, I think, and with Ghost Hunk home, I was able to have a chat with a real live person about the trend in book covers.

Is it true that YA/teen covers tend to be photographs, while MG covers are illustrated? So far, this truth seems to bare out. Mostly. But what do I want for my cover? Hmmm... (that's assuming I could even have any input—but this is my dream, right?)

Here's one of my favorites, which I just discovered today: It's brand new and surprisingly close in tone to my own book—Avi's The Seer of Shadows. I LOVE this cover. (And the book, too!) Now to be fair, the book is about a photographer, so that choice was sort of a given.

Then you have the alluring covers, like the Gemma Doyle trilogy that add a little sex appeal to the historical fantasy. A very different tone, here, but both books deal with historical settings and paranormal or fantastical elements. Libba Bray's book is definitely aimed at a slightly older, more feminine audience, while Avi's is less about the girl and more about the mystery.

What about those illustrated covers? Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book pumps up its own fantastical atmosphere with some fabulous art:
I love his writing, and the art on this cover certainly stays true to his sense of mystical, creepy, beautiful, dark fun. (sorry, I can't help but go all George Orwell with the adjectives.)

I guess part of the cover's job is to set the tone and reveal something about the story—and sell books, of course. Do you get a sense of these stories? I do.

Now, what about my own fabulous book, which has many interesting elements that could adorn the cover. I'm afraid a certain type of illustration will make it seem too campy, but the wrong photographic approach could make it more about the hunk on the cover than the cool ghost story inside. I definitely want the spook factor, but with the proper historical context. For now, I'll keep dreaming about holding that 2-pound piece of my soul when it is final bound and swaddled in its own magical artwork.


  1. I dream of my future book cover, too. :0) Both the photo and illustrated covers of the Avi book and Graveyard book look haunting! Very cool!

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  3. I loved the seer of shadows too! I stayed up all night reading that one. I love LIbba Bray's covers too. I actually was compelled to read the series based on the book covers.

    I like to daydream about my covers too.

    Here's hoping our dreams will be reality!


  4. Hoping your dream of a cover and a contract do come soon. I don't worry about what my covers are like since I know that they are colorized versions of three of the inside illustrations (I know but I have a totally different thing going on than any other book out there - I mean who has a 50-book deal at once? Not very many can say that. Maybe you will luck up and have some significant input in the cover design. I can't wait to read your book when it's finally published - E :)

  5. I sometimes wonder about covers too. I still have no idea what would work, but it sure is fun trying to figure it out.

  6. That's interesting--I never thought about the illustrated vs not with MG & YA covers, but I suspect you're right on the money now that I roll it through the grey matter. It's nice to think about what will be, isn't it?

  7. Great post. I love studying covers and sometimes buy (or check out) books simply because I love the cover. (But usually it is the title. I'll buy a book if I love the title even if the flap copy doesn't grab me)


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