Tag Archives: covers

Trends in Fantasy Cover Art–Revealed!

It seems like a whole lot of book covers feature swords and necklaces these days. If I had my way, there would be far less glowing jewelry and far more sabertooth tigers. Luckily, according to the chart below, “glowy magic” is in decline on fantasy novel covers. The graph was created by Orbit Books to track trends in cover art. I’m sorry to say that “dark covers of meaninglessness” have not declined at all in the past year, but it’s nice that Orbit is now tracking the portrayal of damsels who are not in distress.

Which trends in cover art would you like to see decline?

Parker Peevyhouse’s ideal cover would show unicorns manning dirigibles

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Why Does Cover Art Change?

ARC

ARC

The original artwork for a book cover, however awesome it may be, is sometimes scrapped before the book hits stores. There are a number of reasons for this.

Hardcover

Hardcover

In the case of THE EMERALD TABLET, by our own P. J. Hoover. a time crunch required the publisher to come up with a temporary cover for the advance reader’s copy. The ARC cover was never meant to be permanent and so the original artwork was later swapped for a photographic cover before the book was sold in stores.

The cover for THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES (HarperCollins/Greenwillow), by Jody Feldman, was a bit trickier. The novel is about a boy who competes in a contest surrounding the Golly Toy & Game Company. The ARC featured an enchanting cover illustrated by John Rocco. Feldman says, “It depicted the most visually exciting scene in the book, a team competition set inside an overgrown warehouse crammed with random items. When people saw it, they most often commented how much it resembled, in tone, Harry Potter covers.”

Advance Reader's Copy

Advance Reader's Copy

In the end, the lovely cover had to be changed. Feldman: “There was a faction that felt my cover could be interpreted as carnival-like and didn’t capture the true excitement, action and flavor of the book. That faction was very persuasive. My editor called to explain the situation, but told me the choice was ultimately mine. While a new cover would push my release date back a month, it would also increase my opportunities for face-out exposure within bookstores. We all felt this was the smartest way to go.”

Feldman loved the “bright new colors and graphic feel” even though it was such a big change, and in the end she recognized how much the new cover would pop on bookshelves.”

Hardcover

Hardcover

It all changed again, though, with the paperback cover. “My publishing team felt we might have missed capturing the attention of some readers who would have been attracted to the fantasy feel of the original cover. (Even though The Gollywhopper Games is not a fantasy, it does have a fantastical element to it.)”

The paperback is almost a hybrid design (done by Brandon Dorman), with the bright colors of the hardback image but the whimsy of the original, ARC image. Feldman shows all three images to students during school visits. She says, “If recent student reaction is any indication, this new cover should work out just fine.”

Paperback

Paperback

For a whole lot more “Cover Stories” check out Melissa Walker’s blog, where you can find out how this stock photograph

seachangestock

became this cover for SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman.

seachangecover

To see the process for creating a book cover in detail, check out Mishaps and Adventures for the scoop on how this sketch

unknownssketch

became this book cover for THE UNKNOWNS by Benedict Carey.

UNKNOWNScover
cheryliconParker Peevyhouse is curious about book covers

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The Cover Sells the Book (or SFF Artists)

therobotsofdawnI read sci-fi and fantasy most of my childhood, mainly from three sources:

1) Reading books on friend’s recommendations

2) Browsing the bookstore and reading cover copy (back sans kids when I really had time to browse)

3) Hitting the classics (like Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451) when school required something more intellectual

And sure, I noticed covers at the bookstore, but sad as it may sound, I never gave much thought to the cover artists. My selections at the bookstores were generally based on (1) the back cover copy; or (2) whether a book was face-out or not.

otherlandSo what cover changed it all for me? This one. Otherland by Tad Williams. Now that cover made me want to own the book and run my hands over the sheer glossiness of it all.

After I devoured the book (and while I patiently waited for Tad to finish the next books), I found out more about the artist.

Michael Whelan

Turned out in addition to these beautiful Otherland covers, Mr. Whelan had been illustrating SFF covers for years, many of which I’d read and just never known. Dark Tower series. Foundation series. Space Odyssey. Gunslinger.

Here’s my thought on publishing SFF: You know you’ve made it when Michael Whelan illustrates your book’s cover.

instrospectionIn the meantime, I started taking down my average prints around the house and buying limited edition Michael Whelans. Some of my favorites include:

Passage: The Avatar
Passage: The Red Step
Shonto’s Garden
and
Introspection

Got a favorite SFF artist? I’d LOVE to know!

pjhoover_casual1

PJ Hoover hopes to write a VR book as awesome as Otherland someday.

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