Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Power of Cover Art - Guest Post by Leigh K. Hunt

It is totally awesome to have my writing (and graphic designer) buddy, join me on YAlicious today. I asked Leigh, if she'd be happy to put together a post on cover art, because this girl is a talent and has a keen eye for what works and what doesn't.

Thanks so much for being here, Leigh :)

Wow – thank you for having me here at YAlicious, Mel – lovely to hang out with you guys.

Today I want to say a few words about cover art, and the marketing power it has over our readers. And I’m going to sum up this post in three sentences: If you have good solid cover art and design, you have a phenomenal marketing advantage. If you don’t? Then it’s time to get clued up.
I have been giving cover design advice to authors for years. Seriously. Years. I have laughed, I have cried, and I have even wept in appreciation for amazing covers. I am that passionate about it. In this post I am going to give examples of what I consider a bad cover, an average cover, and a brilliant cover.

And if you are a writer – you need to strive for a brilliant cover – because that is a marketing tool you cannot afford to ignore. You want sales? There are some people (*gasp*) that do actually judge books by their covers. You want to know what else? I’m one of them. Seriously. I kid you not. As a designer, and as a writer – I want to read a book with an amazing cover. Because I know that if the book has an incredible cover that makes me go ‘ahhhh…’ then I know that the author has put in the time, energy, and love into the cover – and I *hope* that they have done the same with their writing and editing of a brilliant novel.

For this exercise, I’m choosing three different covers all on stories about vampires. First up – to demonstrate is what I consider a bad book cover to look like – Saint Sanguinus, by Someone… Someone… Smith? (I’m not entirely sure who, because I can’t really read the first two names….): 

This is my analysis of the cover. 
- No cohesion in the image. It has unblended layers, making it look clunky, and a lot like a bad computer game from the 80s.  Colours are incredibly contrasting, making it hard to look at.
     - Font is unreadable, both for the title, and the author name. Erm… and speaking of the title? What on earth does that even mean? Titles should be catchy or easy to understand, or perhaps they could even possess some sort of insight as to what the book is about.
    - And while I’m sure the young chap on the front cover is a nice enough dude in real life – he doesn’t make a very captivating cover model, and most definitely does not make me want to read the book.

In summary – this cover turns me against ever buying the book. And you know what? That is so not cool for the author, as I believe every author should have a shot at getting their work read… but when the readers are like me, and constantly judge books by their covers – this story is not even going to make the reading list in a million years. Because there are a million other vampire stories out there with better covers.


Next up is a cover that I consider pretty average. Carrie Vaughn’s ‘Kitty in the Underworld’ cover is okay and it does the job. But it doesn’t jump out at me.
This is my analysis.

     - While there is nothing really fundamentally wrong with this cover – it just doesn’t attract me as a reader. This cover is what I consider - boring. 
     - What I really want to know is… what does a great big cat have to do with vampires? The only thing I can uncover from reading the blurb is that Kitty is the main character. Not the cat on the cover. Go figure.
     - The fonts are streamlined, and there are a maximum of two different types of fonts used on the cover, all of which fits rather well for a good design. But I’m not liking the top corner/bottom corner placement of text. It could have been done a lot better, with exactly the same fonts – just placed differently on the cover image.

And all this from an NYT Bestseller, whose professional publishing team probably did all the cover work for her.


Blood Slave, by Travis Luedke: Now, this is a cover that I consider as a really good one.

- It is eye-catching. The graphics are spectacular, and yet simple. The colours and contrasts are good. The blood splatter on her neck immediately tells me that the book is about vampires, and that the chances are – I can guess it’s about a woman of upper class status (judging from her jewellery and clothing) and I’m guessing she is a blood slave to the vampires.
- Do I know anything more? No. But that’s when I can read the blurb, and find a little more out.
- But honestly? If someone just sent me this picture and said – ‘Hey, do you want to read this?’ I would have to say yes. Yes, indeed. It might be the crappiest book on earth, but I will at least buy the book and open the first page. And if I keep reading after that, then that author has a new reader.

Just as an end note to this post – while cover design is super-super important as a marketing tool – so are titles. Seriously important. There are some really awful ones out there, so make sure you do your research. But I’m not here to talk about titles at the moment – that’ll be a post for another day, I guess!

If you would like to take a look at some seriously shocking book covers and titles to learn about what NOT to do – then visit: Lousy Book Covers.

If you want to read more of my opinions on good cover design please visit: Sexy Designer Covers or Judging a Book by its Cover, or just on any subject in general – you can find me over at Parchment Place.

Thanks for having me here today, it’s been a pleasure.
Now go forth, and celebrate sexy and eye-catching designer covers.

~ ~ ~ ~

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Leigh K. Hunt considers herself to be a dreamer. She disappears into worlds created within her head, and every now and then she’ll re-enter the real world for a little while before delving back in again. Leigh writes for the love of writing, the creation of new worlds, and meeting new characters.
Leigh has written a number of unpublished novels, and some short fiction. She usually writes thrillers, but is currently trying her hand at writing an Urban Fantasy trilogy. Over the years, Leigh has placed in a number of short story competitions. The short story published in Tales for Canterbury is the only drama based story she has written to date.
She loves travelling, design, and music - and tries to indulge in most of it, all of the time. Once upon a time, she used to surf, but she hasn't managed to dip her little surfer toes back in the water since she was pregnant. (One day she'll get back in!)

To find out more about what Leigh is currently up to in her writing world - please connect with her on Facebook -

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