The wonderful world of book covers!

It all started in university. As a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graphic design student, twitching with too much coffee, I listened intently as our class was given instruction to re-jig an existing design. While other students set about choosing CD covers and magazine spreads, I re-designed the “From Dusk till Dawn” movie poster. Had a ball. Didn’t score well.

I’ve always loved the art of story-telling (who doesn’t?!) and thought there was nothing more groovy than creating a single composition to portray a fantastic tale. Of course, this especially goes for book covers. You have 5 seconds to impress a browser! What story are you trying to convey with your image? What font? What colour scheme will best convey the mood? Squee! I recently came second in a cover competition for the Romance Writers of Australia. This was most awesome-pants. It reminded me of the fun I had in uni, making that stripper-bikier-zombie movie poster. Best. Fun. Ever.

My cover art! Woot, woot!

I also love watching trends. Anyone remember when chick-lit was huge? When the book shelves were cluttered with flouncy illustrations in pastels, all with women in high heels, searching for wo-ve and wo-mance in the big city? I admit, I wasn’t a fan of those covers, but some were kind of cool.

As a writer and reader of urban and contemporary fantasy, I’ve always followed this market, though I recall not being very impressed with the first urban fantasy I read, many, many years ago. That old classic, Guilty Pleasures.

Oh Jean-Claude!! Meooow.

Of course, with the boom in all things paranormal and just because it’s an awesome read, the Guilty Pleasures cover has been re-birthed several times since.

Those familiar with the genre, know the trend with paranormal covers mostly sticks to the convention of:

1. Book written in sassy female protagonist POV = Insert woman’s back, tight leather pants, gun in one hand. Tattoo optional.

2. Book written in third person POV, including sassy female protagonist and an alpha werewolf/vampire who is bought to his knees by LOOOOVE = Insert man-titty with mean tribal tattoos. Face optional.

Though I don’t read tons of YA (I love you Holly Black!!), I adore their covers in the paranormal field:


As for what goes into putting a cover together?  Orbit put up an entertaining video of what happens when a designer takes speed that condenses 6 hours of designing a book cover down to 2 minutes – I WISH IT COULD HAPPEN THAT FAST!  Think of what you could do if you lived in fast forward with a naffy little ditty playing in the background.

And just for some eye candy – some of my favourite artists, the amazing Daniel Dos Santos, Jon Foster and Gene Mollica.

As an interesting note: Gene Mollica is a talented digital artist who was part of the team that designed the US cover for Joe Abercrombie’s coming soon book, Red Country, and re-did his First Law Trilogy covers. Interestingly, I’ve read some comments that criticise the covers for looking too much like movie posters.

I would sort of agree….and I LOVE IT. Which is so wrong. But so RIGHT.

Posted on April 12, 2012, in Rebekah Turner. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. sallyamberantler

    Love your sass, Beksista! Love your wrong is right philosophy! And I agree with you re’ the Gene Mollica covers – making them like movie posters WORKS

  2. Awesome Bek … Loved the insights. I’ve been wondering for a while why book covers weren’t more like movie posters. And then there was all that copy-catting after twilight, even for Pride & Predjudice, that betrayed the power of the cover. 🙂

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