Covers are really on my mind right now as I try to figure out what I would want on the cover of my dystopian, which has led me to think about what makes a really great cover. I know what my personal tastes are, but I also know if I had judged some of my favorite books by cover alone instead of the blurb or hearsay, I would have missed out on some amazing stories. These are just a few that have beautiful covers and are amazing stories, but not the kind of cover that would draw my eye:
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these covers, and they are some of my favorite books. In fact, after reading Faith of the Fallen, it became my favorite fantasy cover. If you’ve read the books, you know the impact the statues Richard made had on the story and on Nicci in particular, and I love that Richard stands so tall in front of their glory but looks so small in comparison. It is all very moving once you read the story, but wouldn’t have evoked the same reaction out of me if I had no idea what was going on.
I’m not sure why, but covers that look like paintings don’t draw me in. I prefer covers that have a cinematic, move poster-type feel to them, with the characters front and center and the action surrounding them.
And yet, some of the best fantasy series out there have covers that are more artistic and classic. If you look at the most well-known and best-selling names in fantasy (Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, etc) and you will find their covers match that description: artistic and classic (urban fantasy best sellers tend to be a different story with more cinematic and action-packed covers like Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison). There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but these are the generalizations I’ve seen.
So what makes a great cover in your eyes? What draws you in? And what are some favorite books you would have missed out on if you had only judged the book by its cover?