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Covers follow-up - The Phantom Librarian — LiveJournal
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Covers follow-up
So, no teens came today, though I did have an adult who was very interested in cover design. I think of myself as a total dilettante on the subject but I realized while I was teaching that I... kind of know this. She kept taking copious notes, anyway.

So the five fake covers I posted yesterday were all based on trends I spotted scanning my YA shelves. These are the sorts of covers I'm aping, though I just picked two of each. (And refused Twilight on principle, even though, truth to be told... dang, those are good covers. Seriously gorgeous. It would go in the "symbol" section.)

My fake-ups:

Picture A: The Headless Girl
The headless girl seems to show up on a lot of different genres, including epic fantasy (Cassandra Clare's books feature headless giants over a cityscape). I'm sure the idea is for girls to be able to imagine their own faces instead of a model's face, but it doesn't strike me as terribly successful. Here, there's a lighthearted teen spy, and a semi-realistic story about a girl dealing with grief. And letters, and a cross-country journey. For myself, I feel like this kind of cover was a short-lived trend, and kind of signifies short-term, flavor-of-the-month thinking by the publishers.

In this case, my head-story (elevator pitch style) was: Head cheerleader is secretly homeless... can she keep it from her teammates?

Picture B: The Cartoon
There are hand-drawn covers on other kinds of books, but it's most common on romances, especially of the quirky variety. Eleanor and Park is more serious than that Mates, Dates series, but I wasn't at all surprised to click for the description and come up with "quirky." Means less if books are marketed younger.

Elevator pitch: Hyper-organized prom queen falls for laid back raggedy boy... will either of their social circles accept it?

Picture C: the Symbol
Kind of a gimme, huh?

It finally occurred to me that these books are kind of like being in a club with a secret symbol. It's fun to know what the mockingjay pin is, and a quick little pick-me-up to see it unexpectedly. The films capitalize on this well. The Divergent symbols can be adapted into temporary tats and doodled on notebooks. Etc. I wouldn't expect to find this on a world-as-it-is kind of book, because the symbols more or less say, "Hi, I'm referring to this invented world, kthnxbai." Coming up with a full world requires more energy than I put into the covers, though, so this one is minus its elevator pitch. It's just a Leo sign in a square. The world is divided up by zodiac signs, but I was born on the CUSP, dammit! ;p

Picture D: The Important Cover
I am dealing with SERIOUS things here. I will give you my title and a landscape. I will have won an award, so I'll leave room for it. These covers give nothing away, but of course, they're both tragic and grounded in the real world.

Elevator pitch: After the suicide of her best friend, the heroine seeks refuge on her family's farm in Kansas, where she meets her grandparents' troubled foster child.

Picture E: What's a gown like you doing in a place like this?
Gowns that are in gown-like settings might mean anything, but a girl in a ball gown in the woods, a swamp, or in the case of mine, on a NASA shot of the moon's surface, is most likely in some kind of supernatural romance. I shall be daring and go for Sci Fi! (What can I say, I'm a mold-breaker.)

Elevator pitch: Reconcile Drake knew she was born the night that a UFO appeared over her hometown... but what she never suspected was that her lost childhood friend was a passenger on it! Now, he's appeared again, and she knows the bond between them conquers the distance between the stars... ;p

My next game (and I promise, after I finish Chapter 19), will be switching up the genres for the covers of known books.
4 comments or Leave a comment
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 26th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not nearly as up on YA as you are (obviously) so most of this is news to me; fascinating stuff. About the headless girl trend; it depends on what you mean by short-lived. I think the first big book to have one on the cover was "The Other Boleyn Girl" which came out in 2001 and roughly 75% of historicals centering around women have copied that cover in some way; either the heroine is headless or facing away from the reader, presumably so the reader can project herself into the woman's place. It seems to be dying down now but has obviously trickled down to YA ... I hope it doesn't make it to picture books, because that would be disturbing.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: October 28th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love every single thing about this post.
akilika From: akilika Date: December 15th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been getting a lot of use out of this, trying to draw a cover for my own teen story.

And... I was wondering if you could make this public? I've been wanting to share it for a bit, but knew you hated your non-fiction being public...

...but I'm also in a conversation about covers in another blog, and I think your post is pretty dang germane and useful to what they're talking about. (Please follow this fine and well-crafted link!) And I was wondering if you could publicize it so I could link it there? And, er, on my own blog as well.

'Cause you've got some good concepts and examples here and I think a lot of folk could use 'em.

Edited at 2014-12-15 12:25 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 15th, 2014 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Done. Also made the first one public and linked it.

4 comments or Leave a comment