Author Topic: People on book covers  (Read 108 times)

Kay Camden

  • Tag Line unlocked
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Gender: Female
People on book covers
« on: January 15, 2019, 02:38:08 AM »
I have another one... (sorry!)

Need some thoughts and opinions about book covers that have people (characters) on them. I'm talking fantasy genre (contemporary fantasy/ fantasy romance/ urban fantasy). Do they generally sell better with people on the cover than book covers that don't show people?

(I've always been on the side of not liking people on covers because I prefer to imagine the characters in my head, and I know other readers who agree with that, but I think we might be the minority.)
Writes twisty plots with smart heroines, haunted heroes, ancient feuds, forbidden love, magic, and revenge.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2019, 03:00:19 AM »
I don't know the answer to your question but I agree that as a reader I prefer to form my own image of a character and am turned off by specific people on covers. But judging by the prevalence of models on covers, it looks like that is not the prevailing wisdom. A silhouette or a character seen from the back could be a middle ground.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2019, 03:18:50 AM »
It's generally accepted that covers with people on them sell better. For an indie, a cover is like an ad and has to be catchy. Have you noticed how often ads have people?

That said, I've seen some beautiful indie covers with objects (crowns, for example) or symbols. They look like traditionally published books, and they can be gorgeous. I don't know if they sell better or worse than covers with people. But they're usually for epic fantasy, not urban fantasy. The current style for urban fantasy uses people, so you'd want to have people on your cover to convey genre. You could use a character facing backwards, for example, that could work. You could have small characters or silhouettes and a symbol, for example.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2019, 03:44:04 AM »
I'm with you -- I don't like people on covers and prefer to imagine what the characters look like. (I've been reading a series where I had imagined the hero to have dark hair and eyes and was devastated when I came to the author's description that said he was fair-haired.) But for fantasy, I'd think you could make a very appealing cover by using elements from the book -- swords, dragons, crowns, castles -- whatever is relevant, and a font that reflects the genre.

Traditional mysteries with a dash of humor -- no cats, no cupcakes.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2019, 04:09:34 AM »
I believe people on covers sells better than images on covers. Humans are drawn to humans, it is what it is.

I don't mind people on the covers, but I never insert the cover person as the image of the main character. Primarily because I tend to find most cover models unattractive, so I just fix it to my image of attractive when the character is described for me.

You can always try testing it.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2019, 05:51:52 AM »
There is definitely a difference in covers between self-published and major publishers. I've noticed a lot of self-published books have people on the cover and many of those are recognizable.

In a survey of 200 books from major publishers, however, nearly half had no people on the cover at all. Of those that did, only 13 had recognizable faces. People on the others were either art/drawing/painting of people, head cut off, body parts only, back to camera, silhouette, obscured, out of focus, or some combination of thereof.

I have a background in filmmaking, so when I first started self-publishing novels I tried to make the covers look like movie posters. I did custom photography and used people that exactly matched the characters in the novel. That was a mistake. It works with movies, because the people on the poster are actually in the movie. But not so much with novels, where it's usually better to let the reader imagine the character. Even in movie screenplays we don't overly describe characters, lest we rule out the biggest box office stars, or the one with the wrong color eyes who would otherwise be perfect for the role.


Re: People on book covers
« Reply #6 on: Today at 01:49:29 AM »
Look no further than the top selling fantasy books.

Throw out the well-known books (Potter and GRR Martin) and it looks like there's a lot of people on those covers.