“All books are pretty in their own way, like babies!”

Let’s talk book covers.

First, you should know:

I technically have a degree in design, with a specialty in typography and book design. Yep. Right industry, wrong position!

This might be the WORST thing to have a degree in if you want to be a writer!!! Because, to answer the question I get asked a BAZILLION* times a week, by both ex-classmates and random passerbys, NO, I DO NOT GET TO DESIGN MY COVER. Really. I swear.

Anyway, this week on the YA Rebels, we’re talking about book covers. And I had to decide, do I go all serious and analytical, or do I go playful? As you can probably tell by the title of this post, as well as the vlog itself, I chose the latter.

But I want to add a short list of (my very subjective) thoughts regarding successful covers…

-Cover should say something about the book. Even if the cover makes more sense after reading, I want it to give me a hint, an inclination of what the book involves.

-Cover should take advantage of type. This is an OFTEN-missed opportunity and it makes my heart sad.

-Cover should not be cluttered.

-Cover should be memorable. I love covers that plant some seed in your mind, some recognizable element that stays with you and then when you see it again, you go OH!

-Covers should try something, take a risk, be playful, and be confident. By this I mean, I don’t like seeing covers that follow in other book’s footsteps because it’s a formula, and “it works”.

-Covers should stand out…BUT should not do so at the detriment of the above factors. Meaning, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH should probably not be HOT PINK, even if HOT PINK would make it stand out. Shameless gimmick = Sad Victoria. And most likely sad author.**

What do YOU think? What makes a cover good? Do you have any favorites? Do you know WHY you like those covers?

*Perhaps a slight exaggeration.

**Please keep in mind that the author almost never has say, and their words will be “clothed” with a cover they most likely didn’t pick. Meaning, we don’t have control over the first impression (and that is scary). I think almost all authors would like their cover to reflect their book’s content or mood, at least a LITTLE.


28 thoughts on ““All books are pretty in their own way, like babies!”

  1. Erica says:

    I most definately never even thought to look under the Hex Hall jacket, but that makes me incredibly happy that it is so shiny.

  2. SM Schmidt says:

    I love when the spine gives a hint about the book cover for paperbacks. Wow Hex Hall’s jacket is just gorgeous!

  3. Fallen, by Becca Fitzpatrick. The cover is so amazing that I couldn’t resist buying the book – even though I don’t usually like angel stories.

    It didn’t disappoint. 🙂 Ah, if only that were always the case!

  4. Erika Lynn says:

    The Matched cover is so gorgeous. and i love the vlog, you guys crack me up

    • veschwab says:

      Hah, we live to entertain :p

      And I was ambivalent to the online version, but the real one is GORGEOUS.

  5. Annika says:

    The spine of DANI NOIR is all shiny like HEX HALL. I love that!

    Ages ago you linked to a book with a cover you said was your dream cover for NEAR WITCH. It was yellow with a papercut black tree and a girl, I think. WHAT BOOK WAS IT? I can’t remember and I forgot to make any note of it.

  6. Cynthial11 says:

    I looove the cover of Matched, and also Catching Fire when you take off the jacket it’s red and there’s a mockingjay on it! I really like covers that look kind of eerie, and ones that give you a hint about the book.

    • veschwab says:

      Matched surprised me, bc I wasn’t sold on the online image, but in person it’s fabulous!!

      And now I have to go look under the jackets of all my books :p

  7. Raven says:

    The cover for Stolen by Lucy Christopher is so gorgeous, in my opinion. I love the simplicity and it fits so perfectly with the plot.

    A good cover isn’t just there for shock value. It should represent or symbolize something important or significant about the characters or even the book itself.

    A cover that does exactly this is the one for Shiver.

    That red dot over the “i” in Shiver is what did it for me.

    Especially after reading the book, I know that it is supposed to symbolize the warmth in the midst of a cold winter, imo.

    I agree that covers should be memorable.

    I’m the type of reader who will not judge the book by a cover, unless I can’t get it out of my head. I’ll walk up and down the rows in a bookstore, stopping ever so often just to look at that one book with the cover that is so memorable that I just want to buy it.

    Jellicoe Road was the book with the memorable cover, and thankfully the book didn’t disappoint. It was just as memorable as it’s cover.

    • veschwab says:

      Stolen is a STUNNING cover. Absolutely stunning.

      And exactly. I hate shock value, or safe marketing. Both extremes are frustrating.

      Shiver does a fabulous job of being both initially intriguing and gaining meaning after reading.

  8. Corinne says:

    I HEART COVERS!! Great vlog – awesome covers. Unpeeling Hex Hall to swoon next time I get my hands on it. I really just love the Infinite Days cover, it is stunning. The cover of Break is another that I think was done really well. But to date my favorite book cover is on the US version of Love in the Present Tense which I shared back when Elana did the spreading the awesome post, so I actually have a pic posted here if you want to see it:


    This cover relates to the book in a lot of ways and has always just moved me since reading the book.

    Great post! Will beel checking on other’s faves.

  9. Anna says:

    As a designer as well there was no way I could pass up this post. Noooo way haha One of my absolute favourite covers – actually my ABSOLUTE favourite cover has got to be the cover for Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender. I love the colors on it for one, they work so well together, but what works the most for me is the delicacy of the entire thing. Between the photo and the dotted border that frames the front cover and the excerpt on the back right down to the red nail polish on the girls feet, it just works together so cohesively that I just find myself staring at it sometimes. There are a ton of covers that I like, and ones that I love even (Wicked Lovely series, Some Girls Are, the UK version of Looking for Alaska) but none of them top BGDD – not for me anyway.

    • veschwab says:

      I was hoping you would comment on this post!!!

      And let me just say, I’m so happy one of your fave covers is from my publisher :)))

      I got to see a comp for my cover (they haven’t done the actual photo shoot yet) and I am VERY HOPEFUL 🙂 I am the Russian judge of covers :p

      • Anna says:

        Honestly, Hyperion has some of the best covers period. Bad Girls Don’t Die, Hex Hall (although I do prefer the UK cover more), Percy Jackson series + the new Rick Riordan series.

        With other publishers, there’s so many that I LIKE but don’t LOVE, but they have such impact, like the Prophecy of the Sisters covers old and new, of course Cassie Clare’s (although I wish the blurbs won’t so front & center), lloveee the cover for Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, Wicked Lovely series (of course).. there’s just so many. The only one that really comes close to topping how much I lurrrve the BGDD cover is the ARC cover for Raised by Wolves, that was so incredibly beautiful.

        I’m convinced that your cover will be amazing, they have sooo much to work with! It could be creepy, or quite and questioning, etc! SO. MANY. CHOICES! Although to be completely honest I might still be disappointed I’ve come to associate the photo V took (of the girl running) with your book – so not seeing that might throw me haha

        (Oh and the fact that you have Mirah on your TNW playlist makes me ❤ you just a little more, no one ever knows who she is when I talk about her!)

    • veschwab says:

      I think I have to respond to your original post, no tiered comments here.

      I REALLY like most D*H covers, so I’m hopeful 🙂 And I totally understand what you mean about liking covers but not loving, or understanding impact, but maybe not adoring aesthetically.

      I am actually worried people will compare V’s photo to the cover, but it’s so pretty I don’t want to take it down!

      AND DUDE. Mirah could basically BE my book’s soundtrack. Like, take one of the CD’s, cross out MIRAH, and write THE NEAR WITCH.

  10. BJas says:

    Great post — and terrific book selections too. There is just something about book covers and how the design elements make us happy. Great insight!

    • veschwab says:

      I pretty much ADORE good book covers. They’re much harder than they seem, design-wise, and they stand out much more when they’re WRONG and OFF than when they’re right 🙂

  11. gave you an award today on my blog 🙂

  12. gigive says:

    This is now a couple of posts out-of-context, but REALLY. Pretty accents eeeeverywhere.


    And I totally did not expect Coot’s.

  13. Er. That was me. o_O I have no idea why it said I was someone else. *pokes it*

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