Book Cover Trends: Part 1 ( Romance & Historical)

What´s a book cover trend?

As with fashion, a book cover trend is a fashion development which most authors/publishers like to follow. Why? Because what worked for book X surely works for other books, right? Wrong. WRONG. ( thinking about getting the crayons out to drive my point home)

As far as trends go- Not everything trendy is acceptable. In fact, many trendy book covers are either not fitting or they´re down right hideous.

Hence the reason why I will present to you the typical book cover trends! But more of that in a few.

Let´s have a quick chat about pretty and ugly book covers.

I walk away from an ugly book cover. Yeah, I know I shouldn´t. But who can blame me? If I find a book cover tacky, tasteless or even less appealing, then there will be no-show of grabby hands in a bookstore.

They say to never judge a book by it´s cover. I most certainly do.

Judging a book by it´s cover is the #1 way how I buy my books. Or maybe- it´s the #1 way I get interested in a book.

I like pretty things, especially book covers. But sadly enough- the pretty book covers aren´t the only ones noticeable. In fact- passing an ugly book cover is just as hard as it is walking by a pretty one. Some book covers are cringe worthy.. even hilarious. And if you have a vivid imagination then your mind comes up with all sorts of funny and rude stuff when seeing unbelievable book covers.

But it´s not only about what´s hot and what´s not. For me, the major problem is how often I see certain book covers. Sometimes I see the same cover image only printed in different colors. It doesn´t take years of observation to notice a pattern. If you keep your eyes open then you can easily place book cover images to the matching genres.

Still, once in a blue moon I get surprised by authors / publishers. Sometimes I see an eye catchy book cover and do a double take in when realizing which genre the book belongs to.

Alas. Here are the different types of book cover trends. Ready?

Black Background & Random Object ( mostly Romance )

Remember the Twilight Saga? All 4 books? Black background with a random object that´s  possibly ( or not ) linked to the plot? Yeah. Those started off a wild fire in the book world. Before we knew it we were seeing black book covers with high in contrast colors. Black and red. Black and purple. Black background and a single shiny key. Black background and a dove….

blackbooks

Those covers aren´t really trendy anymore but they still work because they´re neutral. No one can say anything bad about a cover that has a black background and a random object on it, other than maybe that it´s out of style.

 

Don´t Have A Head But I Have A Great 90´s Tribal Tattoo ( Romance)

naked headless covers

Have you ever tried to bathe a cat before? All´s good with Mr. Cat until it realizes you want to give it a bath. It lashes out. Scratches the living daylights out of you. That´s how I feel when I see a book cover image that has a headless, well oiled, ripped bod. Was it THAT difficult to add a head? And what about the tats? They scream 90´s. Maybe they didn´t want their faces to be seen because someone might guess their age? Lol. It just doesn´t make sense to me. These covers make my Top List of Most Tacky Book Covers.´( especially book cover #3. There´s too much going on there. Tats, a suit on a hanger, the Eiffel Tower, the title…. no head. * holding breath *)

Speaking of headless…

Have You Met Mr. Suit? He Lost His Head As Well. ( Romance, YA, NA )

suit

Okay, fine. The right one has half a head. But still… The rest wasn´t important? I bet they, too, have tribal tattoos hidden under those fancy suits.  Oh, oh, oh! Remember the part where I said sometimes book covers don´t match the story? Storm and Silence is a Historical read set in the Victorian Era. Headless stud has a nice suit, though. This type of book cover is still popular among authors who write about baby millionaires and / or semi – asshole Heroes who have it all. Not really my cup of tea but I can live with the suits.

 

I Need Time To Think. Alone. But You Can Follow Me. ( Romance )

leave me

Also very popular. Women having a thoughtful moment out in the open. But I have to say- I prefer these over the headless dudes. The lady in book cover #3 either has a death wish or she´s one of the X-Men ( Just kidding. I read that book. Neither happens. I think a woman holding a bottle of wine ( to handle the drama) would have been a more suitable image). These covers will most likely stay around.

The Missing Heads From Heartbroken Men  ( Romance, Erotica, NA)

men

There they are! But it seems like #1 and #2 are suffering from headaches. #3 looks like he´s given up on life. The headless covers looked happier than this mess. Personally, I think these covers are cheesy and with my luck they´ll probably stay trendy until the end of time.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand  ( Young Adult Books )

Now, Young Adult books are also divided into different categories, as well, with the main being Young Adult Fantasy and Young Adult Romance. Let´s focus on the cute and innocent YA Romance…. because it´s just SO innocent.

hold hands

Because, holding hands was a big issue back in the day. Remember those moments where you had butterlies flapping in your belly? No, neither can I. Lol.

Let´s move on to more expressive stuff……

The Book World Has Been In Darkness Long Enough.  ( Romance, NA, YA, Chicklit )

colors

A trend LOVED by many authors and publishers now. I get it. I can see the appeal. Colors are an eye catcher especially when splattered on a white background. But I also see this trend dying down pretty soon. These types of covers are my favorite, so far. Why? Because they don´t really state the obvious. The main focus is on the title. The colors are just a pretty bonus.

 

The Eye. ( All genres)

eye

Yeah, I know. Pretty cool. But I have to admit that it´s also pretty creepy.  This is a trend that´ll soon pass. Who knows… maybe in three years everyone will find noses sexy. Fingernails? How about feet?

Get A Room.  ( Romance, NA, Erotica )

These are the most spread out book covers out there. Couples making out. There´s nothing wrong with a couple making out in a cover image. At least that´s  a small guarantee that you´ll get to read a romance that involves sex, or making out. There is a 50% chance that´ll happen in those books. And if no bed sports happen then it´s false advertising. Anyhow – These covers might never go out of style no matter how tacky I think they are. Sex sells. Always will.

get a room

Hey Hey Hey! Go Easy On The Neck, Will Ya?  ( Historical )

These need to find rooms, too. I do love myself some good old-fashioned historical romance. But when I look at the HR book covers I end up having a laughing fit. neck

And when they´re done with their version of hanky panky the women like to present their cupcake dresses….

Look At My Dress  ( Historical Romance )

This looks like a page from an old clothing catalogue.

dress

See why I can´t keep in my laughs? I´d say Historical Romance covers are by far the most ridiculous and oh – so amusing. OH! We cannot forget our Scottish Fabio´s!

The Decapitation Of Scotland’s Fabio Lanzoni

Historical covers wouldn´t be the same if a Scottish HR didn´t have a buffed, headless bod wearing a kilt and holding a sword / dagger just for good measure.

scot

So you see… They´re everywhere and I see them going nowhere. They´re here for good.

How about we focus on a different territory?

Stay tuned. Book Cover Trends Part Two: Paranormal, Fantasy & Horror is on it´s way…

 

Book Covers- What Happened?

Book Covers

Book covers / cover images are the first thing we see when we look for books. Whether it´s while we´re scrolling through an online shop or simply combing the bookshelves in a bookstore- It´s always the cover that grabs our attention before anything else does. 

Let´s get one thing out of the way before I begin:

Book covers / images are a matter of taste. Everyone has a different idea on what is great or what´s eye catching.

Personally, I like book covers that hardly give away anything from the story. I believe a cover image should grab someones attention, not give the story away. A book cover has to make me stop dead in my tracks. I mean- it’s the first thing a reader sees, right? And if a reader doesn’t like the cover, how fat are chances the reader will buy the book unless they´ve been forced by a friend/family member to read the book? ( The power of recommendations. “It has a hideous cover but awesome story!” )

All this means- I judge a book by it´s cover. I know I shouldn´t. No one should, yet we all do it.

I love to see covers with lots of color / color clashes, unique symbols or anything that stands out ( eye catching, remember? ) Contrasts are also brilliant.

 I’m Amazon’s Costumer Of The Year. Alot of my hard earned money goes for books. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this devastating condition. But if you asked me about book covers then I’d have to say that maybe half of the books I own have decent covers and half from that half have AWESOME images.In other words- I find alot of book covers / images boring and sometimes questionable. 

While reading books from the Romance, New Adult, Young Adult, Erotica and even Horror genre, I’ve come to learn that each genre has their preferred book covers or colors.

Young Adult usually has some teenagers holding hands in a meadow ( colors are usually light ), New Adult covers are a bit more mature ( colors are more bold ), mostly showing some skin or a headless figure… you get the picture, right? We don´t really need to mention Horror covers because many of those covers are just down right brilliant. Creepy but cool.

Also, one has to see the difference between traditional published and self-published book covers. It most cases, self-published book covers / images aren´t done well. But then again- alot of traditional published books have horrible, tacky covers. I can’t really speak for trad-published authors because most of them don’t have a say in the matter. The publisher calls the shots and authors have no power over what cover will be used for their story. That all depends on the publisher and how tight the contract is. Some published authors are lucky and get to chose a cover image themselves. Very few have covers that are able to knock me out of my socks.

There are 2 types of book covers that do not grab my attention at all.  

  1. shaded, oiled torsos with tribal tattoos
  2. covers that look like every other cover

I can’t begin to tell you how many books I have that have black covers with some tiny animal, a key, a keyhole, pearls, diamonds or has some shadowed body parts on it. It’s a nightmare that will not end. 

It´s a trend, I get it. Still… It´s annoying. And when I see certain covers I immediately say to myself ” Uugh. Not again.”.

20161128_010727

( Those are only a few taken from my private bookshelf from only God knows how many )

Many would argue with me on the fact that black book covers aren´t an issue. They´re practical because they look good on a bookshelf, etc.  It truly isn´t an issue. It´s just nothing spectacular.

Then there are those covers with half naked, totally muscular, tribal tattooed, well oiled and well tanned, headless guys. In short- eye candy in it’s tackiest form. I stopped counting those covers because they’re endless. I know I know…sex sells and all that stuff…..but can’t someone stop this nonsense? Tribal tattoos went out of style a while back. Plus, I like guys who have a head. Hands can be sexy, too. Also-  I’m also not a huge fan of character covers, which is when the cover has a face on it. That ruins alot for me and I will ignore the book, risking the chance to read a fantabulous story. Why? Because a character image ruins my own personal image I like to create myself of a character. 

Another thing that brings my blood to boil is when there’s too much going on on a book cover. 

I once saw a cover that was in full color and had an oiled naked, tattooed bod, except- the lucky headless guy had arms and hands ( yay!) and those hands were holding a suit which hung from a coathanger ( I have never in my life seen a suit hanging from a hanger on a book cover before…NEVER) in the background stood the Eiffel Tower. The title- Caged. Can you imagine how confused I was? After taking all the images in I knew what the story was about. But the real question was- Was I interested in the story although I knew there was some godly guy in it, who was probably going to wear a suit at some point, paying the Eiffel Tower a visit? No, I wasn´t. Not even the coathanger was able to convice me.

My point- There´s no need to overload a book cover with dozens of images. That´s only confusing. 

Copying. It´s not a secret that many self-published authors like to copy. Which is fine. I´m the last person to point a finger at anyone in particular. Whatever works best for an author, right? Right. No wait- that´s wrong. Copying is wrong and often doesn´t work out well for an author who wants to make money. What worked for author A doesn´t necessarily have to work for author B. Many writers seem to forget that. 

What happened to self-published authors wanting to be original, standing out and making their book cover better than others? Any, if not all, want to make a living ( eventually ) off of writing, right?

I understand that cover designers are costy. And, yes. I´m aware of how prices are sky high. But they´re worth it. If an author finds a good, professional designer, and both communicate then nothing can go wrong. No one in the history of writing said it would be easy, or cheap. Unless writers don´t value quality and focus their attention more on their story. Then I´d say ” Whatever floats their boat.”.

Still, many don´t or are financially unable to take that path and invest in a cover designer. And if an author doesn´t have a clue what they´re doing when creating their own cover I´m 100% positive it will affect sales. Because, let´s face it- If I notice bad quality / a copied image then other readers will too.  There could be a chance people will ignore a not so great cover and read the story OR they´ll skip the book because of the cover. Who knows. I´m not an expert. But I´ve been watching this business for the last 10 years and can say that covers mean alot. 

I´m not out to ruin self-published authors. I´m not even out to diss traditional publishing houses for their often lack of taste in cover images. Just remember this before the next book hits the market:

1. Sex doesn´t always sell. ( Keep them well oiled studs in the late 90´s where they belong.)

2. Less is ALWAYS more. ( Be tasteful. Be creative. Be original. )

It may not be up to me to decide what cover image is acceptable for a book cover or not. After all- Cover images are a matter of taste.  But since I spend the majority of my money on books I can skip a cover that´s not original or won´t grab my attention.

My wish for the future? For writers to be more creative when deciding on a cover image. Or, invest in a designer. Although, I have seen a small inprovement in the past year ( see Colleen Hoover´s cover image for `Too Late`, for example. What a color explosion! ) so my hopes haven´t died completely.

( NOTE: A cover image alone won´t influence sales. Titles and excerpts play an important role as well. The cover is just what we see first.)