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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I design my own covers, and I read a lot of the design blogs and other bloggers who discuss cover design. I'm currently working on a novel for the YA market, and what I see in YA books, trade or self-published, goes against nearly everything I see recommended by bloggers. Wondering if anyone else contemplates these issues?

Author Name/Brand/Titles
The biggest issue that seems to have very emphatic advice from bloggers is to make your name large and extremely readable. Very few YA covers do this. Glow, scrolly fonts, fading, and tiny letters are common. I've been asking around on some of the YA communities, and just about everyone has stated they don't care about readability, which is interesting. They want pretty pictures and text, and then they'll look at the blurb. If you look around at forum roleplay communities, which have a lot of teens doing graphic design, readability isn't common, and is even denigrated in discussions. A new trend, a la John Green, is the handwritten font on very simple cover, which is also crossing over to adult genres (ie. Rowling's new book, though I think the colors are terrible).

Photos
Close-ups are de rigeour. Lots of YA books look very much alike in Amazon listings. On a personal level, I have to admit I'm a bit tired of a girl's portrait on a dark cover with glowy title, but books still keep coming out like that, so something must be working.

Color Palettes
Most are very dark, with a simple color palette. A few are bright or have a single-color focus, often muted (thinking of Hocking's Wake). The new John Green-like covers are generally bright, but they tend to be limited to literary genres.
 

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I think you're spot on with the trends: Dark, Girl, Scrolly Type, photo.

I'm working on a YA book currently with a cover the opposite: Light, Multiple Characters, Block Letters, Illustration.

My tropes are more Middle Grade, and I sure don't want to telegraph that message. Am I an idiot? Maybe.

I am also shooting for more sophistication than the average middle grade cover. I am also shooting for crossover appeal (older people like my style, and ...) and it's a Western (which allows more illustration). Plus I want a classic look, not a trendy look, since it's Historical Fantasy.

Will all my reasons stack up like a hill of beans against the current YA cover trend? Check back later for the answer.

My main reason is that I cannot create the cover image I envision via photo-manipulation.

Bottom line: It may well negatively impact sales, but I'm a stubborn cuss.
 

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I'd guess trad-pubbed books are designed first for in-store display.



Is this a thread about how to market your books so you make cas$$$$h or about how sad it is that so many prefer an astonishingly lifeless girl on the cover? Perhaps one who has lost the will to live ...

Kissing is good, though. Everybody loves kissing.

Look at this book, currently #59 on the Kindle chart.



Must be the font! Dazzling, I know!

But srsly, I prefer the kissing over the drowned waif.
 

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Yeah, this is a tricky thing.  My "young people's" books are sort of on the bridge between MG & YA, so I have no idea what to do, coverwise.  I'm happy with the Revolutionary Tale cover, but I'm going to redesign Civil Disturbance for paperback and have NO idea what to do with it. 

Conventional wisdom says that a YA book needs a person on the cover, but this isn't a romance, so the waif in the long flowy dress is out (and doesn't fit the story, anyway).  I'd prefer to have the guy character on the cover, as I'd like to get boys interested in the books.  But at the same time I don't want the full face visible.  So I'm toying with either seeing him from behind, or only from the chin down.  I know, that's rather cliche, but I think it would serve the book.

So the big question is always:  should we do what every other author does?  Or try to be a bit original?  Go with what we know works, or try to avoid hitting (and being) the saturation point that tips the trend into overuse?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dalya said:
Is this a thread about how to market your books so you make cas$$$$h or about how sad it is that so many prefer an astonishingly lifeless girl on the cover? Perhaps one who has lost the will to live ...
Yes? LOL While things irk me, I think you have to go with the flow to an extent. I'm not appealing to myself, really, and I think I'm weird and probably not the best judge anyway. But I will admit to a certain amount of boredom with the mass of strangely similar YA books. And I like colors. The kissing book does not appeal to me at all, but might if it was done better.

MG is much harder, but I think it depends largely on whether you are appealing to males as well as females, or just one gender. I don't know if face profiles appeal as much to boys. I think for something in that era to appeal to boys, I'd go with weapons, especially cannons. Maybe in the background?

The strange thing about a lot of YA is that you're not just appealing to teens, but a lot of adult readers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'd love to believe I can do what I want and it works. But cover design is also about selling something, and that goes beyond what we want personally. It's pure and simple, a marketing ploy to get someone to pick up your book or look at the description.

I actually thought about this more, and I think even the trade publishers are partly missing the boat. I highly recommend looking around at roleplaying and teen graphic communities. What they put out is totally unlike what is popular elsewhere. They have a different ethos. For examples, I found the "Rate Your Sig" thread at Caution, which is a large RPG community and graphics site. I will note that they have no trouble using copyright graphics, but the design style is different from what you see elsewhere.
 

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LynnBlackmar said:
I'd love to believe I can do what I want and it works. But cover design is also about selling something, and that goes beyond what we want personally. It's pure and simple, a marketing ploy to get someone to pick up your book or look at the description.

I actually thought about this more, and I think even the trade publishers are partly missing the boat. I highly recommend looking around at roleplaying and teen graphic communities. What they put out is totally unlike what is popular elsewhere. They have a different ethos. For examples, I found the "Rate Your Sig" thread at Caution, which is a large RPG community and graphics site. I will note that they have no trouble using copyright graphics, but the design style is different from what you see elsewhere.
It's a good idea to check out some YA book review sites for the latest covers. Your book should fit into the genre, otherwise regular readers of that genre may not easily click on it...unless you have a stroke of luck or some major advertising ploy and you happen to make a breakthrough with a strikingly different cover, it's best to fit in. Here is one site:

http://www.yabookscentral.com/

Melody

PS - The titles on the covers are not as HUGE as those found on Mystery and Suspense Thrillers, but most of them are quite clear and readable...
 

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I think a cover that captures the imagination (or creates emotion) in the target market is a good cover.

Symbolism and surrealism suit my stories, so that's what I ended up going with. I'm sure they don't appeal to all within the target market, but I think they capture something of the strange/creepy/weird mood of the books.
 
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