February 23, 2014 by Mod
I’ve counselled against “scene” covers in the past. Though often the first idea an author has, they are usually not the best choice. That said, sometimes they can work.
This kind of cover works best in S/SF, crime or mystery genres. It’s also appropriate on most YA or middle grade novels. It doesn’t work as well in adult romance (apart from the generic clinch/kiss covers, which I love) or literary novels.
If you are using a “scene” cover, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your protagonist or romantic couple should dominate the cover. Any other characters should be obscured, in the background or otherwise de-emphasized.
- Don’t be overly concerned with being completely literal. Maybe the scene on this cover example didn’t take place exactly like this. Readers are not going to care.
- Make sure your models have the appropriate expressions, posture etc. Nothing worse than a scene cover wherein the models look like they are posing for school portraits.
- By the same token, try to evoke conflict, tension, action and/or emotion with your models. The example given evokes tension because we have the feeling that the man turned his head away and just the moment the ghost appears and thus missed seeing her.
- Make sure your designer blends the elements carefully. Nothing takes you out of a scene faster than lighting or color inconsistencies.
The above cover is for sale for $99. Thanks to model Jason Baca for the great image.