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The Cover Art Form

For the non-writers out there, the cover art form is the thing we fill out, describing what kind of cover we’d like. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’d say 90% of the time, authors don’t get anything remotely like what they picked out. Them’s the brakes, part of the business.
Me though? My publisher is pretty freaking FANTASTIC in that she really looks at my art form, takes into consideration of why I want something and often delivers on it!
The reason Cover Art Forms is on my mind is because I’m filling one out for a 2013 book. I thought I’d poll yall for what you liked.
Head? No head?
Back? Chest?
Cartoon-like? Real people?
Gun and a blood pile? Stack of flowers?
What is it about a cover that catches your attention—and just as important, what turns you off?
Colors you like best?
There are SO MANY options to add on the art form, it’s pretty crazy. My 2013 book is a Mystery Romance. It’s southern. There’s fun parts, but there’s also some dark sections too. What do you think? I have an image I adore at the moment and unless I find something else that screams Taken By Trouble, that’s the image I’ll be sending to my publisher.
If you think I’ll spill the details on the picture I have picked out, you’re crazy. I want to know what YOU like!


16 Responses

  1. Black and red spell danger, to me. Mystery? Shades of blue.
    Hope you get your heart’s desire, Keri! I’m waiting to see the covers of my first 3 books – they decided to shoot all covers at the same time. I’m a wreck.

    Good luck!

    • Personally, I found headless men and women a complete turn off. More than that though? I despise the half-naked headless men. Why? It’s so cliché as to be embarrassing. I know you can’t control what your publisher puts on your cover, but, yeah. I don’t care for such covers, myself. I like the more artsy ones.

      • I think there’s a time and a place for them, Juli. For my erotic and sexier romances–the buff men are called for. I want the reader to know what they’re in for when they pick it up.

        but I see a lot of covers with the nakedness and it doesn’t quite fit. There’s a big shift in covers right now because of 50shades, so I think the next year is going to be interesting in what we start seeing!

    • Very interesting on shades of blue Laura!

      and I bet they’ll be great. awesome that they shot them all at once!

  2. I like the more artsy ones, also, Juli. Erotica covers all look alike these days to me. I like for covers to be clever–something that helps me understand the title or gives me a hint at the setting.

    • I think this is a big issue, Pamela. a lot of the erotic covers look a lot of alike. They have to really stand out (I’m thinking of the Jaci Burton Play-by-Play books here)

  3. Call me crazy, but I’m not a fan of bare chested men on covers. But then I’m also weird in that men with gym bodies don’t do it for me. Overdeveloped pecs and abs just scream ‘Hi, I’m going to spend all my time pumping iron and admiring myself in the mirror”.

    I suspect I’m biased because during my career in sports medicine I got used to looking at bodies that were developed for function, not appearance, and there’s a very noticeable difference.

    What I do like? A cover that sets a mood, whether it’s with color or graphics or imagery. When I look at the cover I want to see what the book is going to make me FEEL. Suspense? Danger? Humor? Horror? The cover should project the emotional content.

    • This is so true Kari Lynn and you can’t hardly find non-gym bodies in stock art!

      good additions. What does that cover make you feel and does it match what the book shouldl make you feel?

  4. Love looking at great covers! 🙂 Southern Mystery Romance! I can’t wait for your next book, Keri!! For me, dark, shadowy figures and a film noir feel scream mystery and danger.

  5. Put me in the “I don’t know much about designing covers, but I know what I like” category. 🙂 There are covers that just strike me, and a ton of different reasons why.

    The headless bodies are so prevalent because stock art is limited, and people won’t be saying stuff like “Hey! That’s the same model as on Queen of Swords!” As an example. 🙂 With SO many people using stock art for covers now, it’s a challenge.

    I can’t tell the difference between a gym body and a “developed for function” body. I live in the suburbs, and most of the guys around here work desk or car jobs. The ones who do physical labor are usually in worse shape than the gym-body guys. So I appreciate a finely honed torso on a cover. 🙂

    • Athletes tend to have longer, smoother muscles, rather than the bunchy, pronounced muscle of a model or body builder. Short, bunched up muscles lack flexibility so they’re easily injured when you start doing explosive stuff like sprinting, tackling, jumping, etc. Lack of flexibility also decreases range of motion, which shortens the length of your stride or your throwing motion and ultimately inhibits speed.

      If you want to see the ultimate in form meets function, watch the Olympic sprinters. Like this one, for example:


      Notice how much more streamlined and aerodynamic a swimmer’s build is, so he can glide through the water with minimal resistance:


      Scroll down to the wrestler, though, and you see a person who needs more power than range of motion, so his muscles are much more compact and bulky.

      Something to keep in mind when you’re writing a character. I can’t tell you how often I see a description of a guy’s build in a book and think, “Uh, no. That body isn’t built for what he supposedly does.”

      • that’s really interesting Kari! DH was just complaining about his calf muscles. They just above the half way point on his calf and he can’t get them bigger. I’ll tell him to look at athletes, see what he wants and do that!

      • Oh, I thought you were talking about guys who work with their bodies (cowboys, construction workers, coal miners, firemen) versus CEOs with a personal gym next to their offices. 🙂 Athletes are something else entirely! 🙂

  6. My only preference is that the people be real and not drawn. And I agree, with erotica they should be half naked.

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