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Discussion Starter #1

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I just finished building a list of ASINs from Also-boughts for an AMS ad, and in the genre I was looking at it was wall-to-wall faces. (Sub-genre of fantasy)
 

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It seems to me that they're out of trend with the big publishers. For a while now, I've noticed that most big publisher books are mostly text/typography. As a reader, these covers almost never appeal to me, which might help explain why I've bought so few tradpub books lately.
 

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That's definitely interesting.  I wonder if it's a dog chasing his tail kind of thing.  Like, traditional publishers trend one way, then indies make their covers to look more like the best sellers, then the trad publishers change it again to make their books look less like the stream of indies.  I have no idea if that's true, but it might kinda make sense.  Either way, I'm glad that there's a variety out there.  Browsing for books can sometimes feel like sifting through a ton of stuff that all looks the same.  So, maybe it's alright to shake it up every now and then.
 

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Romance wise: In the UK, yes. In the US, maybe a little. They're not so much of trend as objects and cartoons are slightly more on trend now than they were a few years ago. B&w images of dudes are still on pretty much everything.
 

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The only true "type-heavy" cover is V.E. Schwab's book. Every other title still sells with moody covers like Tana French's (I'd think it's a thriller or crime in which case the cover goes with the genre). And then there are Ken Follet, Stephanie Meyer, John Grisham and Harry Potter who only sell through names. There is no title on this list which author or genre usually uses a "face-cover".
 

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I like a cover with nothing but a cool icon or stylised object and loads of empty space. Especially in a series, which makes them almost 'collectible'.

It's tricky to represent the genre though, especially as a thumbnail instead of a physical book to be examined front and back.

 

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I'm going through cover design with my publisher now and we do have two models displayed on the cover. It's a fantasy, but we do have a male and female considering each other--a Roman Goddess and a mortal. Some have suggested that it looks paranormal romance which throws the genre off. However, it does evoke magic. Others say that it does not specifically denote urban fantasy. Well, yeah, does the cover of Twilight scream vampires?! I don't think so. Without the models, with just some logo or mystic image, I would be probably be accused of not drawing my genre readers. So, you know, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.  It is so variable, you'll have to decide from the heart and than go for it and stick to it, in spite of the opposition.
 

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Give me the ole Catcher in the Rye plain red/maroon cover any day.

There are more male torso in the subgenres than ever before....that male model must be getting a good royalty...

Mark
 

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I'm only taking an interest because early in the new year I hope to publish a trilogy as a disaster thriller. For genre it would be Speculative fiction - dystopian - suspense  - disaster thriller.

When I go to the sub genres the bestsellers have people on the covers, usually with a rifle and a backpack and with a disaster background, however the mockups I put  together for the covers to motivate me without looking at the charts didn't have and people on them, so I'm at a loss which way to go when the time comes.

It is interesting though. Do you think it's a gamble to go against the genre norms?
 

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I've been toying with cover analysis for various bestseller categories over the last month, and I wouldn't say I see a definite trend away from people on covers. It will depend highly on your category and subcategory though, and looking at the very top bestseller list IMHO is not as insightful as looking at your more direct competition.

From left to right below (snapshot taken last Friday):
Contemporary Romance Fiction
Romance Literary Fiction
Dystopian Science Fiction
Teen & Young Adult Dystopian
Romantic Fantasy



Plenty of people in all of the above, even the first two that are higher level vs the more drilled down dystopian categories. Romantic fantasy still full of magical women and packed men ;) You will see category differences in how people are placed - face vs full body, face show vs face covered, looking away or looking towards the camera, single vs couple, dressed vs not-so-dressed ;) etc.

As mentioned above it tends to be traditional publishers with larger marketing budgets and reach (and possibly big name authors too) that can get away with covers that are less like what the cover genre expectations are. :)
 

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@BCMC.

Really appreciate the time you've taken to post the cover images.

The T. L. Payne's post-apolyptic series as a self-published author seems to have hit the mark for readers with people on the covers, considering the first book in the series has over 500 reviews, is currently 5000 or so in the overall charts (despite typos and missing words mentioned in reviews), especially as he is priced at $4+ price point for all his books which I'd be going for, I guess I'd be better sticking with people. Saying that, mine is adult, whereas his has YA catagories.

Not sure which stock photo site has been used for the differing positions of the characters on the covers, but that works.
 

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Decon said:
The T. L. Payne's post-apolyptic series as a self-published author seems to have hit the mark for readers with people on the covers, considering the first book in the series has over 500 reviews, is currently 5000 or so in the overall charts (despite typos and missing words mentioned in reviews), especially as he is priced at $4+ price point for all his books which I'd be going for, I guess I'd be better sticking with people. Saying that, mine is adult, whereas his has YA catagories.

Not sure which stock photo site has been used for the differing positions of the characters on the covers, but that works.
Sometimes you get lucky and you find a series with the same model. :) Alternatively if you can get the same model's face at a few angles you can then try and get that photoshopped on a variety of bodies. Lastly you can try getting models that are vaguely similar and touching them up a bit. But admittedly unless you get lucky or have mad skills (or pay someone with those ;)) it is a harder style to pull off vs. the character staying mostly static and the background changing between books.
 

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My YA fantasy series I had a girl on the cover for the first set. When I changed them up this year I decided to do what I call an object cover because there was a pretty strong trend towards them in what I was seeing for my also boughts and if I was going to do new covers I wanted to try something new and different from what I'd already done. From what I can tell so far based on FB ads and a Bookbub the new covers performed better than the old ones.

One of the other reasons I did it is because I'm hoping to level-up my cover design skills to the point where I can do my own fantasy covers (instead of paying $500+ each for someone else to do them) and I figured object-based were going to be easier for me to master than custom-illustrated people covers. I still can't duplicate what Damonza did on my object-based covers. I'm not there yet. But maybe someday...
 

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Those TL Payne covers are nice. They don't look like YA though. They look like post-apoc. And not YA post apoc. It is not my genre, but I'd be pretty surprised if those books had a seriously YA feel.

I don't read post apoc but I do read a lot of YA. Until the pandemic hit, I strolled through the YA section at the bookstore about once a week. I know YA covers well, though, admittedly trad paperback YA covers.

YA covers, both contemporary and fantasy, do commonly have objects. For contemporary romance YA, I see typography, objects, cartoons, and girls in pretty equal amounts, with couples coming in a bit later.
 

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Louis_Park said:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOr5ALigmHA

It's about horror book covers and the changes in them. Also, discusses overall changes in books covers. Quite interesting.
Really cool video, thanks for sharing :) I agree with most of his points, though he is skewed towards pulpy horror covers as the ones he misses seeing and there are more horror subgenres out there. The opening set is admittedly pretty ridiculous and except the dress one it really is hard to see them as horror at first glance. But different horror subgenres do have their own tropes and "old school" design elements, that I wouldn't say are being lost (or at least not to the extent he presents it). Search for haunted house stories, and you are likely to see covers with just that on them... He is probably right though in the assumption that some of the change is to purposely distance from the "pulp" label.
 

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Not sure which stock photo site has been used for the differing positions of the characters on the covers, but that works.
Neostock has series with the same model in various genres. Pretty good pics and decent prices. I'm envious of many of those stock images.

Anyway, my advice is to watch what the top sellers have been doing and go with something similar. I think covers do change a bit, slowly, so you have to keep checking on them. What big publishing houses do often makes no sense, but they pay to get good positioning in stores, so they can have what they want and it will still work.
 
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