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.
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.
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.
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.