Monday, May 13, 2013

Judging a book by its cover

This past week a lot has been said about book covers and gender. I have been intrigued about it since I first read Ilona Andrews' post about covers here. She masterfully explains and describes what we already know a cover is primarily a selling tool.

What makes you choose one book from an other? Most likely we check up books by their covers first!

She explains what catches our attention:

  • Bright color.  Everyone likes blue, red is a close second, and purple is popular, but slightly more with women. Brown, for many, is the least favorite color.  It’s drab. 
  • Interesting image, preferably unlike other images next to it.
  • If there is a person on the cover, they should be attractive.
  • Familiar images that identify the type of the book – markers.  Man, armor, weird sword – heroic or epic fantasy.  Girl, gun, magical swirlies – urban fantasy.  Woman, Victorian dress, gears – steampunk.  Woman, gown, man grasping her dramatically – historical romance. Man, half-naked, magical tattoos – likely PNR.
Obviously this makes me wonder a lot about imagining concepts inside words and making them marketable, specially about body stereotypes, who chooses and why.

Recently, author Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) tweeted on May 6th:

I haven't read any of her books (so far), since she is not exactly an author that writes about vampires or paranormal fantasy I adore. However, she is a big name in the young adult circle and I follow her on twitter for her wits and crazy ideas.

She made a contest on her website about this cover dilemma and named it "Coverflip":

1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.) 
2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there. 
3. Now, COVERFLIP! Make the new cover and put it online. Tweet or Tumbl it with the tag #coverflip. 
4. I’ll be looking at them all, along with Huffington Post Books. They will put up a GALLERY of the best ones, and I’ll pick one winner to get a PRIZE PACK of signed books by me, along with whatever else I find in my house and shove in the envelope.Remember to POST with #coverflip. That’s how we’ll find it. 
* CRITICAL NOTE: 98% of authors don’t make or choose their covers. (Self-publishing, I know you do. I mean published with publishers.)

I came late for the party! But a lot of discussion was raised. An article in the Hufftington Post shows great examples of the outcome of this experiment and the reasoning behind.

Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery chose her favourite and I agree:

So I'm just adding my two cents here with Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study. This is the cover of the book I own:

And this is my contribution:

(Image from

It looks so much different, right?

I love this book.

And on this note, I had a chance to review 'Speechless' by Hannah Harrington a few months ago and  I always felt compelled about this change of cover.


To this:

By removing everything from the cover this book definitely stands out in bookshelves, I've noticed!

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