Tuesday’s child, PJ Sharon, here. Business first. Please join me next Tuesday in welcoming guest blogger, CC James, author of the YA series, DEMON TRACKERS. Her first book, THE ANOINTED is out now and the second book, BANSHEE’S CRY will be coming in August. She will be sharing her writing secrets for creating compelling characters.
This leads me to today’s post.
Since I’m writing contemporary YA romance these days, and designing my own book covers, I’m curious about what attracts readers to pick up a certain book. In my quest for answers, I’ve had a chance to study lots of covers. I’ve noticed some interesting trends.
It used to be that no one would show faces on their covers because it was thought that readers wanted to use their imaginations to create an image of their hero and heroine. More than likely, it also has something to do with paying licensing fees and finding cover models that fit the description of the characters.
Recently, however, I see more and more books with either graphically designed images of actual people, or model photos used for cover art. This is especially true with YA books. There are still plenty of books that show only body parts—shots from the neck down, or half faced people that leave you to imagine their eyes once you’ve read that the heroes’ are “piercingly blue”. Or in the case of the dreamy Demon Tracker–a lovely shade of green that is indescribable in mere words. I might not be normal (this is often up for debate), but I find that when I’m reading, I like to refer back to the cover to see if the image on the front reflects the character on the page. This personal preference is one reason I chose this photo for the cover of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. This girl’s face and the expression in her eyes summed up Jordie and what she’s going through. The picture, in my opinion gives you insight into the story, the character, and leaves you with a question.
Most traditionally published authors have little control over their book covers and the people who design them haven’t likely read the book, so in my experience, it’s a hit or miss as to whether the cover art meets my expectation of what the character might look like. Does this mean that I won’t buy a book with a faceless, hot body on the cover? Umm…no. I’m only human after all.
But with all of the competition to get a reader’s attention, I think the use of bold colors, striking images and catchy titles is more important than ever. There was a day when the bare chested man with the Fabio hair and the six-pack abs was shocking and seductive enough to have romance novels flying off the shelves—and don’t get me wrong; sexy still sells. But if all the covers have those bare chests and swooning females, the effect somehow gets lost in a sea of flesh.They all start to look the same. I believe readers want something different today. Hot and sexy is great, but when I pick up a book, I want to get to know the characters. I want to feel like they are my best friend for those 300 pages. This is especially true for YA, which I think is why we are seeing more faces on covers. Where would Harry Potter be without Daniel Radcliff and those little round glasses?
How about you? Faces or no faces?