Let’s talk about SEX!

Okay, no, I don’t want to talk about sex at all.  I want to talk about covers.  But I got your attention, didn’t I?

And that’s the whole point of a cover.  See the nice segue-way, there?  I don’t just randomly yell the word sex.  SEX!!!!

My cover is, as I write this, being carefully crafted by the AMAZING artist Sharon Tancredi:


I have seen the sketches, and I am over the moon with her, her aesthetic, and her ideas for Tempest.  She is also an insanely nice woman who took the time to read my manuscript AND email me about it.  So I feel I am in very good hands.

A lot of people have asked me about this part of the process.  It seems, in many ways, the part everyone is most interested in.  They’ve wanted to know how much input I’ve had, etc.  My experience has been unique, I think, in that the Orbit team just does everything right.  I think I’ve had quite a bit of input on the cover, to a certain extent, but I’ve mostly spent that time shouting, “OHMIGOD YES! YES YES YES!!!”

I am like the Molly Bloom of the Urban Fantasy world, with my neverending affirmations.

My point is not actually Joycean; my point is that covers are important.  I know it; you know it.  I buy books for their covers.  Not all the time, but it happens quite a bit.  Especially if it’s a book by an author I otherwise don’t know.  

So, let’s talk about covers, as I open up the floor to you guys.  For the non-author types: what kinds of covers do you look for?  How important do you think a cover is to you?  What would you like to see?  What’s an example of a great cover for you.  For the authors out there, what was your experience with getting your cover like?  Do you have a dream cover/cover artist?  Any apocryphal stories floating around regarding covers?

PS: For a sneak peek into Orbit’s art department, go to: 



Anonymous said…
For little old me (non-authoress, but regular reader), I like covers that pay attention to the aesthetic of the book. It may seem odd, but the style of the art on the covers can often be a determining factor in how I read the style of the writing. We remember books in the entirety of the experience of them. The best covers are those that contribute to the overall mood and message of the story inside. Is it funny? Dark? Scary? Sexy? Maybe all of the above. The point is, I like to see covers that make me feel like the art and the writing were created in tandem.

I can't wait to see your cover, Dr. Peeler!
Nicole said…
Judging by the art on her website, you cover is going to kick ass! And I completely agree that covers are so important. I own books by a few authors that came highly recommended to me (primarily PNR) that I would not take and read out in public - they are that bad. Bad covers can definitely put me off a book. And having the ability to easily choose between US and UK editions of books, I often compare and contrast when starting a new series and will buy the ones I prefer the looks of. Orbit has consistently put out books with great covers, so you're definitely in good hands. I want a cover that reflects the book in some way, but isn't cliched or cheesy. I want to feel that who ever chose the art actually had an idea of what the book was about and made the choice based on that. If your book is gritty, have a gritty cover. If it's light and fun, then the cover should reflect that. Basically though, I will buy a book simply because it has a great cover - and just hope that the pages inside live up to the promise that drew me in.
silveradept said…
As someone who works in the library field, covers are essential to selling a book to someone looking for a good read. The younger your intended audience is, the more important the cover becomes. When books get reprinted, sometimes comparing new to old covers is shows how much better the new cover is...and sometimes it doesn't.

I think your cover art has become more important, too, because you have to sell your book, often by cover alone, among a sea of many other books, also sporting covers that are trying to get you to buy them. I can't possibly read even chapter one of every new book that comes out, so I have to rely on cover judgment or the judgment of others with more reading time (yeah, I know, work in libraries, no time for reading. Seems to be a contradiction, but it isn't).
Toni L. Chapman said…
I' like covers that relate to the book. I'm not an author so if I read the back cover blurb and the cover art is totally off base it makes me maybe not get it.

T.M. Thomas said…
I think there's a dearth of ass shots in covers today. Why, only 8 out of 10 urban fantasy books feature a female posterior.
Nicole Peeler said…
Dear "Anonymous" (or my friend Christie): I completely agree. I want the tone of a book to come through in the cover art. That's why I loved the Sookie Stackhouse cover art so much, it fit the tone perfectly. I hate when you get a cutsey cover, then the book is dark. The book should do what it says on the package!

Nicole: First of all, your name is beautiful. Classy. Sophisticated. ;-) Secondly, I love that you brought up the US/UK divide. I just moved back to the US from Scotland, and the cover changes are INCREDIBLE. Usually, for the worse. Part of it is that the UK can depict so much that the US can't. For example, when Bellow's Ravelstein came out, the UK cover had a beautiful tina tea cup and saucer with a cigarette put out in the center of the saucer. It was PERFECT. But the US couldn't have a cigarette on the cover, so it was just a pristine tea set. Which was random and pointless. Thirdly, I, too, hate when you can tell the person who did the art never read the book. Por ejemplo, when the protag is dark, and short, and the cover model is tall and lithesome and blonde. That was my WORST nightmare for Tempest.

Silver Adept: That is SO interesting, what you said about children. Maybe we're training, with all our glossy graphics, our kids to be cover whores?

Toni: I agree, I think there's a disconnect that occurs when a cover doesn't "match" the book.

T.M.: Maybe they're all devotees of Lawrentian sexual philosophies.
Mark said…
Holy Craps Nicole! If they're letting her work in her style, Tancredi could break new ground in this genre. It'll be amazing as fuck!

*kicks dirt*
Nicole Peeler said…
Mark: They are, and it WILL. The roughs are GORGEOUS. I'm totally getting it as a tattoo, btw. Which is narcisstic, but it's too good to waste.
Renee said…
Wow, you really seem to be in good hands. I loved her art (especially the madonna and child, "Mary of the Block".)

For me (as a reader) I want the cover art to not just reflect what's in the book, but also be an image that will take my imagination beyond the boundaries of the book.

My 3 favorite cover artists are
the above mentioned Lisa Desimini -- she does the Charlaine Harris covers
Dan DosSantos --Patricia Briggs', TA Pratt, Mike Resnick covers
Chris McGrath --Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, CE Murphy (and just about every other UF author. lol)

They all have amazing sites featuring their art.
Nicole Peeler said…
Renee: I love the Madonna, too, especially all the little random details, like the peeling wallpaper that reveals the star. :-)

That's interesting, how you suggest that really good cover art can actually enhance or even challenge your reading of a book.

And very good chocies for cover art! I especially like how McGrath balances what seems like staple genre art, but does it in a way that's still expressive and interesting.
silveradept said…
I don't think we have to worry about kids becoming cover whores, to be honest. They're just in the same world we are, perhaps even more so - hundreds of competing demands for their time and attention. Books don't necessarily rank well on the list, (possibly because of their low multi-taskability) and so if you're trying to sell them on buying it or borrowing it from the library, it's got to be able to captivate them right at the beginning, or it's not going to work and they'll move on to some other competing demand or another book that looks good. Bad covers will sink even the greatest of books, which kind of explains why nobody wants to read "classics" - most of their covers suck.
Oopsy Daisy said…
Yes, the cover art should match the contents of the book - however, in my opinion, the cover is going to make or break a book. There, I've said it.

You will always have those who know exactly what they are going to buy before they walk in the doors at Borders. These are the same people who can walk into a grocery, grab what they need (and nothing more) and be back in the car in ten minutes. Annoying aren't they? But a good deal of buyers will grab your book to read the back, only because the cover snagged their attention.

That's why I "front" my books when I visit my local Borders. There are a few other authors out there whose books I also front, just to be nice. (See, I CAN be nice when I've had my meds)

I like bright covers with lots of colors, shiny things and Illustrator. Oh, and long walks in the park.
Nicole Peeler said…
I LOVE your considered responses guys! Keep 'em comin'! What a great readership we have here at the League!
JD said…
Chicks in black, butts and tramp stamps on covers get me every time. I don't know why, but they just do. Maybe it's wishful thinking, essentially hoping that I was that cool, kick ass chick who's sticking it to the bad guys.

And I generally prefer the UK covers to the US ones. There's just something inorganic (for lack of a better term) about the US covers.

Another thing is, they have to be appealling. Visually, I mean. Nothing makes pass over a book quicker than a pseudo bodice ripper-style covers. I like a well crafted chap as well as the next lass, but I'm not into Fabio covers. The colours and the graphics, even down to the font, need to work for me, make be believe the art. The last books to really grab me by an unknown (to me) author was Stray by Racel Vincent and Kitty and The Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn and that was a few years ago now. These days, I go off recommendations, but if there are choices of covers, then I go for the nice ones!

If it's an author I know and like, however, all these points are moot anyway.
Nicole Peeler said…
Just to comment on JD's "well crafted chap" (love it!) motif, the last man-meat covers to force me to buy them were Showalter's Lords of the Underworld covers, especially the first. Bonjour, Monsieur! They said, "buy me," and I said, "oui oui!"
Taylor-Marie said…
I like covers that have actual photographs on them, (Like Jennfer Rardins Jaz Parks series or Richelle Meads Georgia Kincaid & Vampire Academy)
The covers with girls looking hot with their killing gear on just catches my eye. (& I'm not half gay.) Ha!
But, I also liked the Twilight book covers, just plainly because it was simple, yet beautiful. It told a story about the book.
Bah, thanks for listening to my ramble.
Nicole Peeler said…
Taylor-Marie: I, too, love the Twilight covers! They're so visually startling. And they did make sense once you'd read the book, and maybe added some layers of interpretation, even. That was a great ramble! ;-)
alanajoli said…
I admit, I've fallen for the back-of-the-female-lead cover scheme. There were a bunch of them all at once, and a lot of them were good, so I kept picking them up! (Alas, this was not a reliable guarantee of quality.)

Honestly, there are enough writers who I'm trying to keep up with these days that a cover has to really work to sway me. There's tough competition in my TBR pile right now.
Paula said…
Aside from the nice design and the right "mood", it's always a plus if the author name and the book title are readable on the cover (and spine). Nothing's more frustrating than having to squint to get that most important info.
Nicole Peeler said…
Oooo, Paula, you reminded me of one of MY pet peeves. When there's no series number!!! I hate buying books out of order! I don't care if they don't HAVE to be read in order . . . I WANT TO READ THEM IN ORDER. Another part of the reason I have always loved Orbit. They number their series!
Nicole Peeler said…
And Alanjoli: Mine will sweep. ;-) Sweep, sweep, sweep.
Krystal32 said…
I think I have to agree with Toni L. above. I look at the back and read what the book is about and if the description doesn't fit with the front cover , I am reluctant to buy it.
Nicole Peeler said…
That's interesting. Why do you think that happens? Is it that the buyer infers a lack of care on the part of the publisher?
cindy said…
haven't visited in so long. wanted to welcome you, girl! the site looks great. and eeeee! cover talk! i'm so excited for you!!! =D
mkcillip said…
I like the idea of the cover offering an alternative in to a book like this. I've not thought about it much, but I'm probably (incredibly, unknowably) affected by just this kind of trans-media (is that a word? maybe I mean intertextual) infection.

When I read Twilight, I didn't care for the book very much except that I read it while listening to The Killers' "Are we human." The two fused together in my mind, and I think I "read" each of them in light of the other. The song's just damn good, so I think that helped the book (for me), but now I wonder what the song would be like without the backstory of the book inevitably invading my thoughts. In some ways, it's nice to have more feeling to the song than just the words and music, but I wanna wonder if *I'm* dancer instead of constantly wondering about the non-human qualities of Edward Cullen.

That said, well-tailored cover art can only be a Good Thing, and you look like you're well on the road. Ooooh, I can't wait to see it!
Nicole Peeler said…
Jimmy, you are dancer. I miss you.

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