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How accurate should the cover art be?

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Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 88
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Topic starter
 

Need opinions and guidance.

If my cover art conceptually is a location in the story (a room), how accurate should it be? Or can the cover be stylized to look better even if, for example, the walls and ceiling don't match the written description?

Thanks for your insight.

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Posted : June 1, 2023 8:47 am
Gideon Smith
(@gideonpsmith)
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I seem to remember there are some fairly famous examples of covers that don't match the contents... Like Harry Dresden always being in a hat, but never in the actual book. To the extent that Jim Butcher even put a line in one of the later volumes along the lines of "You KNOW I don't wear hats" 

Or the current Witcher covers being from things in the game, not the book. And I seem to remember Anne Mccaffrey having some strong opinions on which of her book covers looked like "her dragons" and which did not. But its just a memory, so all of this may need fact checking 

Something  like that....

"...your motivations for wanting to write are probably complex. You may have a few great passions, you may want to be rich and famous, and you may need therapy."
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Posted : June 1, 2023 11:45 am
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Posts: 2159
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While fans will grumble about a "bad" cover, you first have to have fans. To have fans, you have to sell books. To sell books, you have to have a great cover.

Internal illustrations are a different matter, but a cover is not an illustration of your book, it's an advertisement for your book. Its number one purpose is to make the reader pick up or click on that book. Its secondary purpose is to not completely mislead the reader: if the cover has a dragon, there had better be a dragon in the book. But precisely that dragon? No, not necessary. Nice, but not necessary.

image

This is the cover to Back to the Moon by Travis Taylor and Les Johnson. When I saw that cover, I picked the book up, and I didn't put it down until I finished reading it. I had to have that book. And when I was done, that scene did not appear anywhere in the book! But by then I didn't care, it's an awesome book. Did I feel cheated? No,  it's an awesome book. (My guess is that scene was discussed early on, and the artist ran with it.)

Accuracy is a bonus. A cover that sells books is the goal.

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Posted : June 2, 2023 4:51 pm
Nigel Billington, Joe Benet, storysinger and 1 people reacted
(@johnalex20)
Posts: 18
Advanced Member
 

Hey, great question! Cover art is a creative representation that captures the essence of your story. While accuracy is important, artistic interpretation can enhance the visual appeal. A stylized cover can intrigue readers and convey the mood, even if it's not an exact match. Just ensure key elements resonate with your story's vibe. Balancing accuracy and aesthetics can make your cover truly captivating. Best of luck with your creative journey!

 
Posted : August 8, 2023 12:12 am
Joe Benet reacted
(@ellisael)
Posts: 32
Advanced Member
 

thats a quite amazing a question- i have truly loved the covers of Butler- maan of scifi!

Esp of Parable of the Sower - it is a great example of where the imagination of the writer meets the cover illustrator's realistic takes

 
Posted : January 11, 2024 4:19 am
(@morgan-broadhead)
Posts: 462
Gold Star Member
 

The image that you, as the writer, have about what your story looks like can be different from the images formed inside a reader' head. Everyone's reading experience is different because everyone brings a different set of life experiences, perceptions, and biases to the page. So when you turn a story over to an artist to design cover art, what the artist sees might be different from what you had intended. It's really based on the artist's interpretation of the work, although it would be good for the artist and writer to collaborate on what the final piece should feel like, portray, or evoke.

"You can either sit here and write, or you can sit here and do nothing. But you can’t sit here and do anything else."
— Neil Gaiman, Masterclass

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Posted : January 11, 2024 5:44 am
Gideon Smith
(@gideonpsmith)
Posts: 277
Silver Star Member
 

From the writers perspective I think the art on the cover has a purpose of attracting people to buy the book. I think therefore as long as its good, attractive art, that makes someone want to pick up the book, and take it home, its a win-win for the writer. Obviously you don't want robots on the cover if your book is dragons but as long as its attractive, not completely off base and gives the right 'feel' I think its fine

"...your motivations for wanting to write are probably complex. You may have a few great passions, you may want to be rich and famous, and you may need therapy."
- Dave Farland, Million Dollar Outlines

Writers of the Future:
2024 Q1: F Q2: HM Q3:P Q4: P
2023 Q1: RWC Q2: SHM Q3: SHM Q4: R
2022 Q4: R
Submissions to other markets:
2024: 17 submitted 4 acceptances
2023: 74 submitted 13 acceptances
2022: 22 submitted 1 acceptance

http://www.gideonpsmith.com

 
Posted : January 11, 2024 6:20 am
Dustin Adams
(@tj_knight)
Posts: 1382
Platinum Plus Moderator
 

#5 evoke emotions

Not that I need the info I've learned on illustrations as an illustrator myself, I am glad to have learned as much. Especially from IotF. The winning images are a joy to peruse. They are usually characters in motion. They are curiosity provoking. They are emotion evoking. And of course, gorgeous.

I think of old advertising, where the product or its use was shown. Like Cheerios. Hey, here's a bowl of Cheerios - eat them. Now, Cheerios are falling like rain and splashing into a bowl of milk which is splashing outward. There's a lot going on on that box cover.

tl;dr:

You may want today's Cheerio box.

p.s. Unless it's romance, then you want these covers: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CCPMY8DR 🤣

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11x HM
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Posted : January 12, 2024 3:18 am
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