May 26, 2012

The Importance of Cover Design and Genre

Today we have Stephanie Bibb talking to us about the importance of cover design and genre. Take it away, Stephanie!

As many authors can tell you, a good book cover can make or break a book. Whether you plan on trade publishing or self-publishing, having a strong cover to represent your work is an important aspect of catching a reader’s attention.

While we’ve all heard “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” this is extremely hard to practice. How often do we pick up a book in a bookstore, or click a thumbnail image from a website based on the cover?

A book cover does at least three things:

1. Tells us the genre of the book.

2. Gives us insight into the story.

2. Catches our attention.

When we read a book where the cover doesn’t resemble the story, it leaves us annoyed. We didn’t get what the cover advertised.

For example, I’ll use a cover I designed for my own short story project. I had written a 1000 word short story that could be best described as young adult science fiction. It had both dystopian and war elements, as well as a strong focus on romance. I called the story “Socks,” due to a comment in the story itself.

Then I set out to create the cover.

My goal was to recreate the socks on the cover, and give it a grungy look. I wanted it to be clean enough to be dystopian young adult, but dark enough to hint at the war-time elements in the story.

So I came up with this:

In your opinion, does this look war/dystopian book at all? It’s pink and lime green, and one person who saw it said they thought it looked like a children’s story.

I have to agree with them on that one. So, several revisions later, I came up with this:

Much better. It targets the young adult audience, not children, and its muted tones suggest the war or dystopia, as does the grunge.

Imagine if I had used the other cover for the story. I wouldn’t have targeted the right audience, and the people who read it would probably have hated it. Instead, with the new cover, I’ve had reviewers suggest that I turn the story into a novella. I have plans currently to make it into 3-4 short stories that cover the entire story.

So, lesson learned. When creating a cover, or choosing a cover artist, make sure it captures the feel of your story. What message are you trying to convey? Who do you want to read your story? There are quite a few popular titles with more than one cover. Take a look at US vs UK books. The covers are usually similar, but they were styled to match their audience.

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful, and for those of you searching out cover artists, good luck. :-)


Stephanie Bibb is a photographic illustrator who uses her own photography and Photoshop to create fantastical images. She seeks to create book covers over a wide array of themes, though she mostly tailors to young adult, science fiction, and fantasy illustrations. You can see her work at . She blogs about both writing and cover design at .

May 12, 2012

Quick Update

Haven't been around in a couple of weeks. Sorry :/ Staying super busy writing! Right now, I'm waiting to hear back from Avon about my newest novella, Sour Cherry, a romantic suspense story that takes place in a motorcycle gang. And I'm working on the last couple of chapters of Bleed For Me revisions, my newest suspense going out to query this summer.

I attended an awesome conference last week, the LDStorymakers Conference in Provo, UT and was privileged so many great writers.

Hoping to get back into the swing of things soon! Keep writing - The Avengers say to.