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A Cover Story

Judging books by their covers.

Sarah Hoyt


January 23, 2014 - 2:00 pm

We’ll start with Romance, because it is the best paying genre, period.

This seems to be a supernatural romance.

Note that this book is a “picture cover” with the hot male chest (the face is cut off.  This is common in romance) and the wolf, which indicates to me “paranormal romance.”  There’s usually an animal and a half naked man.

I’m not a font maven, so I can’t tell you what the font is, but it is a fancy font for the name, and the name is featured and about three times as large as the title.  You can see that name even in thumbnail.

Yes, the author is a bestseller, but frankly, just seeing a name that size, without thinking, the reader will think “bestseller” so there’s no reason for you not to do it.  It’s not a conscious thing, it’s beneath the thought process, so you’re not really lying.  You’re just conveying the impression that you’re big heap writer and increasing the chances they’ll buy.

Note the “old time” hairstyle, (face again missing) and the font, as well as the author’s name in a golden shape.  This is likely a regency (I don’t read much romance, but if the cover isn’t on a regency, they’re signaling wrong.)

This is a contemporary romance/thriller.  Note that it’s still a photo cover.  The rose, and the shattering vase indicate romance and danger.  Also, the romances with elements of thriller often have these spare minimalist covers.  Again, note the author name on top.

Something I’m noticing looking through these, that even I never saw before, is that everyone says “a novel.”  I don’t know if this is now in all fiction — an artifact of the digital age, where “a book” can be a novella or a short story — I shall keep an eye out as we move on.

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I looked up that last cover just to see why it was so bad:

Apparently, K.R. Columbus wrote this "novel" (actually more like a porno) for a rather specific niche of homoerotic fiction about bears, i.e. big stout hairy dudes... which explains a lot, though not why the naked big stout hairy dude on this particular cover appears to have been computer-generated from an old World of Warcraft model, or why he isn't very well anti-aliased with the background.

Here's the supposed summary; see if you could have guessed any of this from the cover:

"Alaric is not like other teenagers, he has an unnatural affinity to nature and he is not affected by cold or disease. Sharing similar problems, Ralph; a handicapped teen, becomes his friend and together they try to discover the secret behind his nature, and the amazing reality of where he comes from, all after surviving a terrible tragedy that gave him a vision about a horned man-beast seated on a throne of stone calling him to go back home, claiming to be his real father; The Mountain King."

Moreover, if you think that's bad, try looking in the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, which has such gems as "The BBW and the Space Lord" and "Ravished by the Triceratops" in it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wow, this is good advice. Up until I read it I thought my artistic and design skills were my secret weapon as an indie author, despite the contrary evidence of miniscule sales. I now see that although my prose is of professional standard I've been selling it behind covers that are 'vanity' projects.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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