Monday, November 26, 2012

My Gripe with YA Book Covers

Okay, today's post is a little bit of a rant.

Young Adult book covers.

Seriously guys. What is up with the pretty-girl-in-a-dress meme?

Seriously. Nothing about these covers tells me what the book is about. Nothing makes me want to read them. They're like the ads in Seventeen Magazine that I always glossed over (well, back when I read Seventeen).

There's no intrigue to these covers. Heck, some of the models used don't even match the protagonist of the book!

The main character in this book, Yelena, has
long black hair and tan skin.

A great example is the book Liar by Justine Larbalestier, which went through a big online controversy due to the fact that the story's protagonist was black, but the girl on the cover was white. (And a quick Google search will tell you all about white-dominated [am I supposed to capitalize "white"?] YA covers, but I'm just complaining about the dresses and lack of creativity.)

Honestly, if my manuscript FOLLOWED BY FROST were to be published today, I already know exactly what the cover would look like, and it would fall right into this category (or the ever-popular here-is-one-half-to-three-fourths-of-my-pretty-face-taking-up-the-entire-cover trend):

A cover can do so much for a book--and we all judge books by their covers. Writers put a lot of effort into their manuscripts; I think it's high time publishers started putting some effort into their covers.

To end on a high note, here are some GOOD covers. :)

What do you think? Do you like the trend? What books covers have stood out to you?


  1. I was wondering the same thing about the girl in a formal cover trend.

    I agree that covers should be good and not a carbon copy of every other book. Good covers aren't easy to come by, though, when you start looking at legal stuff and cost. ;)

  2. Are most of those books you posted the covers from romances/teen girl YA with strong romance themes? Because the covers say that to me. If they are, then those covers are that way because they want to bring in the 'Seventeen' reading crowd. If they aren't, then someone's being paid way too much to do their job.

  3. Unfortunately most of the time authors do not really get a say in the design of the book cover. Once the publishers buy the rights to the manuscript, they're the ones who get to decide what the cover looks like. When you get published Charlie, try to get something in your contract that gives you veto rights on your cover design.

  4. Karen Sandler came and spoke in a class I was in. This is the cover of her book:
    When she originally wrote the book, the character portrayed on the cover had the tatoo on the left side of her face. This is a significant plot point in the book. Because the cover was designed this way, Karen had to go back and change this point throughout her book so that in the end the story and the cover would match.

  5. We discussed the race thing about Liar in my writing for children and adolescents class at BYU. Basically it's a marketing strategy. White (rich) people buy books, other ethnicities in the U.S. are generally considered poor and therefor do not buy books. It's really just a load of B.S. but marketers do what they think will make them money. Maybe they're just stupid and wrong, though. I bet they are. It's a very stupid thing when you go into a bookstore (as I did this weekend) and someone asks for a picture book about a black child and they can only think of maybe one book, but they're sold out of it.

    As far as covers go, I've seen some good ones and I've seen a lot of stupid ones that may have had good books in them, but I will never know unless they come out with a different version later down the road that has a more enticing cover. Anybody who says you can't judge a book by its cover doesn't read books.

    The worst thing is when they use the exact same picture for entirely different books. maybe I'll have to write a post about this, because there's at least one specific cover I can think of that's been used for multiple books.

  6. LOL! It's soooo true. And one thing I've observed is American covers are waaaay more commercial than other countries. It's an American thing. It's all about the money--catching the eye to make a sale. But the dress trend is definitely there--I wonder what the next one will be? ;-)

  7. I get the rant, but I'm stuck on a white character on the cover of a novel with black MC. What?

  8. For me, if the cover isn't a scene from the book, I usually won't look. Cruel, but true. It's reading up to that image that I look forward to, because I want to know how the character got into that situation (Hero of Ages - prime example). :)

  9. Haha, I'd never really thought about that before, but it's so true. Now I'm never going to look at girls-in-dresses YA covers the same way. :)

  10. I'm with you. I can't stand the cute girl in the dress covers. It's been done... move on. But publishers think, "It's been done, we must do it some more."

    Nothings worse than slapping an uncreative cover on a creative work.

  11. I agree that a lot of American YA covers these days are really boring and look basically the same, just with different models and clothes. I'd love to see a return to the old-style illustrations and artwork, not all these photograph-style covers. Another YA cover trend I can't stand is the lopped-off head, face, or body. Unless your book is horror, why do you want a cover model with part of her body or face missing?

  12. Hey awesome review, you should check out this woman's book covers they are NOTHING like what I've ever seen. They are not your typical run of the mill Crap they are far Far better, since buying a cover from her my book has literally flown off the shelves. I can't rave enough about this one. You really do need to check it out for yourselves.


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