I came across this survey over at Tez Says earlier this week and thought it would be kind of fun to do. So here we go…
Just to follow Tez’s lead, I’ll give my demographics: I am a 29 year old SAHM in Metro Detroit. I am a book enthusiast with no delusions of being an author and will typically try any kind of fantasy and/or paranormal author, however I do prefer some kind of romance in my stories.
1. What kind of covers do you like? This is kind of hard to answer as I like covers that are eye-catching, but more specifically, they need to attract my eye. I really don’t know if I can pinpoint one type of cover, but if it has some unique element to it, something that all the others don’t have or something new, then I’m generally drawn to it. I also like pretty colors. It doesn’t matter which colors are used, but they have to work well together without being a mess. I am definitely the type who will walk through the aisles at the bookstore, waiting for a cover to jump out at me. A lot of it depends on my mood too. One cover that definitely did this for me was Guilty Pleasure by Laurell K. Hamilton. If you really look at the cover, you can see someone’s abs, but they are very ambiguous and you don’t know if they are male or female, plus your eye is drawn to the rose, not the flesh. Between that and the purple, it definitely made me wonder what was going on.
2. How much detail should be on them? I like detail. The more detail there is, the more there is to draw the eye in my opinion. At the same time, there can be too much detail as well. The covers that really get me are the ones where you have to look at it for a moment or two to really capture everything in the image. Whether it’s a well-placed tattoo or an intricate architectural design, give me something to look at and I’ll be more likely to pick up the novel. The cover has to make me wonder what is going on inside the novel and if the artist can do this with few details, that’s just as good, but it has to pique my interest.
3. Do you prefer characters or symbols, and why? Quite honestly, I prefer settings. It doesn’t matter which character you have or if it’s their personal symbol, if the scenery isn’t there then the covers all tend to blur together for me. Everyone either has a character or a symbol on their novels any more, but it’s the setting that attracts my eye. Show me some place new. Make me wonder what the character is doing in the novel. Half the time the cover character doesn’t truly depict that written character and since I don’t envision what my characters look like while I read, I really don’t find it necessary to have one on the cover. Symbols are fine, but again, there has to be more to it. If a symbol is going to be used, then it needs to be art-worthy. The more intricate and complex the design, the more intriguing and stylized one can be, the more I’m apt to look at it. Just putting a sun on the cover doesn’t cut it.
4. What don’t you like on covers? The token body. I’m all about putting a character on a cover, as long as it works with the overall theme, but don’t put a body on it if there isn’t a need for one. If you’re going to put a body on the cover, then have it do something different. The whole generic standing still with a guy draped around the character or brandishing a weapon isn’t new. I don’t mind the brandishing, but it all depends on the weapon too. I think this is one of the reason’s Joey W. Hill’s The Vampire Queen’s Servant keeps jumping out at me. You have this guy who is obviously handcuffed, but all you see are his capturers hands. Are these the vampire queens or an enemy trying to get back at her? Is this for fun or is he being tortured? There’s no way to know what is going on unless the book is picked up. I happened to have this one at eye level on my desk and I keep getting drawn to it. So while there is a body on the front, it’s not a token element that’s there just for the sack of being there, but it’s there to make you wonder.
5. What would you prefer in digital artwork? Characters or something to do with/fits the story? I like artwork that inspires my imagination. I know that’s a cheesy response and most artists are going to tell you that’s what they want, but that doesn’t always happen. There are a ton of covers out there that I would love to blow up and hang on my walls, but at the same time, there are a lot out there that tend to focus more on the norm than actually try anything new – you know the ones, kickass heroine with a weapon or a couple in an intimate embrace. None of that is new, however, take Jeri Smith-Ready’s cover for Bad to the Bone (see below). This is such a great cover because it does have elements that are not a standard right now. Ever since I first saw it, I’ve always been able to bring it up in my mind. Here we have this kickass woman, with this huge ass dog, just standing there, giving off all this attitude and daring you to stare them in the eye. You can’t see her eyes, but you don’t have to. You know they are standing up for something and yet we don’t know what it is. You can barely see a hint of buildings in the background, and if you’re unfamiliar with this series, how do you know what they are. Is this a post-apocalyptic story? Has magic ravaged the buildings? Is there a war going on? With the swirling reds and oranges hiding these buildings, the cover leaves it to the readers imagination to guess at what is going on. The colors, the attitude, it all works brilliantly together.
6. Links to covers you do like, both digital and ‘normal’. Other than the ones I talked about above, what other ones do I like…
- Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready – as stated above.
- Ghostland by Jory Strong – It’s simply pretty with the soft colors that are still bold enough to draw the eye. This is one I would love to blow up and hang in my office.
- Deadtown by Nancy Holnzer – I love the mix of sword and guns. You usually only see one or the other on a cover, but we’re given both and the sword is on fire. I also have to admit that I love that it’s hard to determine if she’s trying to save her city or if she’s looking on her dominion that she controls.
- Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study by Maria Snyder – I love these covers. I would definitely be hanging these covers on my walls if I could get my hands on poster size ones. The settings are amazing and makes me want to walk there; the body is placed in a way to enhance the setting, not draw the eye away from it; and the conclusions one could draw are endless.