Ciao, amici. It’s my turn to discuss covers today. I’ve done a few where I broke down the features of a single title or a series, discussing font, color, graphic, etc. Today, I thought I’d back up and take a look at conventions in general.
I’m prescheduling this post. Today’s date is March 23, but this isn’t going live until April 26. I only mention it because I’m about to show you some Amazon bestselling covers, and if you look, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find these books still on the front page. And certainly not in this order. (I thought I should clarify in case you wanted to do some of your own research on Amazon.)
The books I chose to look at are romantic suspense novels because that’s one of my favorite genres to both read and write. Here is a row from Amazon in the romantic suspense category.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s incredibly interesting that we can have four totally different looks in the same genre.
Things that are the same:
- The colors are mostly dark.
- Titles use color or texture or both to stand out.
I’d hoped to find more similarities, but I can’t.
Things that are different:
- WHAT I’VE DONE and BOUND use all caps sans serif.
- I WAS BORN RUINED uses a mix of script and sans serif.
- THE FALLING OF EVERYTHING only uses script.
- THE FALLING FOR EVERYTHING uses lowercase serif.
- The other three use uppercase sans serif.
- THE FALLING OF EVERYTHING and I WAS BORN RUINED have them.
- WHAT I’VE DONE and BOUND don’t.
So, can I come up with any generalities? Kind of. You probably won’t go wrong in this genre if you follow these principles:
- Dark over light.
- Textures or color to enhance title.
- Sans serif over serif or script.
- A person or people on the cover. Faces aren’t necessary (and maybe aren’t preferred).
The laws of probability suggest that many if not most of you are not romantic suspense writers. So why did I use that as my example? One, there’s no genre that would appeal to everyone, so I had to pick one. Two, because it’s one of my preferred genres. And three, to make a point.
Experts tell you to make your cover look similar to (without overtly copying) the other covers in your genre. Today’s study is a good example of why that advice doesn’t necessarily work. By all means, study covers in your genre. But then pick and choose the aspects you like, reject the features you don’t, and work closely with your cover designer to adhere first to principles of good design then second to design trends in your genre.
Personally, I think a well-designed cover that’s different from others in your genre is better than a poorly-designed cover that tries (and fails) to look like every other cover in the list.
But that’s me. I’m curious to know what you think about cover design. Let’s discuss it below.