Cover Art, Truth in Advertising?


As a reader, it’s always annoyed me when cover art doesn’t match the book description.  I believed the writer just didn’t care enough about their work.  They went to all this trouble to describe a character but didn’t care enough to make sure the artist portrayed their main character correctly!  *Outrage*

When I began researching traditional publishing, I learned how little control the author sometimes has on the cover art of their book.  And it horrified me.  The saying is “you can’t judge and a book by its cover,” is more true than one might know.  Sometimes publishing houses commission artists and give them no description including within the book, only an idea of what THEY think will sell the book (which may not be what’s in the book).  When the cover isn’t accurate to the book, you might need to blame the publishing house and not the author.  

BUT, the cover sells a book.  I may know better than to pick books based on covers (and have loved many books despite a less than amazing cover) but I’ve also put down a book based on a horrendous cover.  

AND I’ve been mad at books because the cover doesn’t match the content. As a person who tends to finish books once I’ve started, I’m more likely to be mad regarding a false cover than I am to have not read a book due to a bad cover… but I’d love stats on how most readers react.

A cover is important.  Composition, what you show, how you show it, all of it matters.  Does it have to be accurate to the book though?  

If current covers are anything to go by.  The insides don’t have to match the outside, but where is the line one can push before readers feel tricked?

Food for thought: 

  1. What’s the most important part of your book/ what do you think would compel a reader to pick up your book?
  2. Do you know what you want your cover to be of?
  3. How accurate should it be to the writer’s description?  Does accuracy matter more than visual layout or imagination?
  4. What’s the difference between an artistic rendering and deception?  
  5. Do you have a favorite cover, does it align with your favorite book?

Best of Kindle Unlimited: Annette Marie

Annette Marie’s work is predominately urban fantasy meant for young adults.  Her characters are “older” than a standard young adult character often between seventeen and twenty.  Her story lines do not happen in a school or within a typical teen framework, instead they focus on emotional beats and key road divergence style story plots that characterize young adult literature.

Marie’s urban fantasies cover two differing genres.  One where magic/gods/demons has always existed with humanity.  It changes very little in the day to day modern world because mortals can rarely experience and hold a memory of these powers and the powers themselves do not like urban development.  

In another, these powers reveal themselves when humanity threatened their safety and took over our realm to protect us from our own destructive nature.  The man vs magic struggle is strong in this series.

“Red Winter” is Marie’s best series by miles, though the first three books in “Steel & Stone” make a close second.  If there weren’t another three books in “Steel & Stone” full of a downward descent, this section would be a debate over which series is the best.  

Instead, Annette Marie’s career is a fascinating case study regarding writing priorities.  She’s an imaginative talentedwriter with a thriving fan base.  She’s made her career testing out various stories and creating more when her readers responded to her writing.  

I had mixed feelings in including Annette Marie.  While I love some of her work, I also dislike or was disappointedalmost as much of it as I enjoyed.  I came into this article expecting to discuss writers’ fatigue (a classic Stephen King fault) or discussing how writers’ shouldn’t keep stories going past their natural end point.  

BUT further research on Marie’s writing career highlights that she may have different goals than I do in creating her stories.  It seems she’s trying to create a fan base and doesn’t mind stretching what’s popular in her writing to build that base.  Her motives may extend beyond always telling the story she wants to tell to telling a story people want to read.  What obligation do writers have to respond to their audience’s desires?  Does it impede good story telling or does it create creative story narratives readers want?  

Take Aways from Annette Marie’s Success:

1.  Be responsive and interactive with your audience.  Annette Marie and all writers can only succeed if others are interested in their stories.  When you find something that speaks to your audience hold on to it.

2.  An older protagonist in young adult literature works.  The story beats that identify a work as young adult transcend the age of one’s main characters.

3.  “Magic is secret” does not have to be the default setting for urban fantasy AND readers don’t want or need large exposition drops to integrate magic into a modern world.

Looking for other great Kindle Unlimited Series? Check out our earlier write up on Amy A. BartolSara C. Roethle,  T. A. White, Charlie N. Holmberg, Meg Elison, and Susan Ee.

Wondering why Kindle Unlimited?  Check out my post: 7 Reasons I read Kindle Unlimited

For further discussion on reviews try our “Would you Rather…” post that asks writers to pick between two different kinds of negative reviews.  Or try Do Critical Reviews hurt me as a Writer?

Or consider 9 Things that Make a Book Good (For Me)7 Steps I take Before Posting a Bad Review