Dear cover designers, please don’t…

As book bloggers we can all pretty much agree that good cover design is a must. A great cover can make you pick-up a book, and a terrible cover can make you pass it up.

That is NOT what I’m here to talk about today.

Rather, today I would like to talk about cover design pet-peeves that don’t necessarily detract from the look of the cover, but bother me for other reasons. They aren’t things that make a cover ugly, but are things that may make me vaguely annoyed or grumpy. These things don’t make the cover bad, but they could still be improved in my oh so humble opinion.

Don’t include a dragon just for decoration.

I guess this most often happens when cover designers are imitating medieval page illuminations, so it doesn’t happen very often. But seriously, if I see a dragon I want to read about a freaking dragon, okay? Putting a dragon on the cover of a fantasy book that doesn’t have dragons in it is extremely misleading, and it isn’t fair to people who read every dragon book they can find (aka me).

This happened to me once in college. The book was called The Book of Joby, and there were no dragons. The book was fine, I guess, but I was seriously disappointed when I got to the last few chapters and realized no surprise dragons were coming to save or ruin the day.

Don’t include historical paintings or photographs and not include the title of the art somewhere.

Most of the time when historic art is used in the cover design, the title of the artwork is included on the back cover or on the tp verso (which is the page with all the copyright info). Most of the time they include the artist as well. I really appreciate this, because often I will look up the painting and/or artist so I can see what the original looks like compared to the cover.

Recently I read Queen of the Night, and while the museum who owned the photograph was thanked, the title of the photograph was not. This was confusing to me because I couldn’t determine whether the image was a genuine period photograph or a reproduction, and since I didn’t know the name of the photograph I couldn’t research it! The thanked museum when googled was not obviously a museum, and with their terrible webpage I couldn’t figure out whether they were a collection or a modeling studio. Very frustrating, though I did find the answer eventually through the author’s historical note.

Don’t use a different font on the cover and title page.

Honestly, there’s no reason for this. Enormous time goes into picking or designing just the right font for the cover page and/or title page, and there isn’t any reason those two people can’t just collaborate to get a cohesive book design. I’ve only noticed it in two books I’ve ever read, but it really bugged me. Both books had great covers, but they didn’t match the look of the inside of the book!

Most recently it was The Angel of the Crows. The cover is very trendy, black with a London silhouette and a font with clean lines. The fonts inside the book (for both the title page and chapter titles) was more western and fit the steampunk-feel of the book a little better. But what REALLY shocked me was to find out that the title page font was the one actually imprinted onto the book, so the spine of the book didn’t match the spine of the jacket. WERID, right?

IDK, maybe it’s always like this and I’m just not observant enough to have noticed.

Do you have any cover-design pet-peeves that aren’t necessarily bad design but just bug you? Let me know in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Dear cover designers, please don’t…

  1. Epic Reads released the covers for the 2021 summer releases from Harper Collins and the majority of them kinda have the same design aesthetic and I don’t like a lot of the covers. There’s just something about the covers, especially of the contemporaries that turn me off.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I totally agree…and I could add so many more! But absolutely…why d.o designers put dragons on the front of a book that has NOTHING whatsoever to do with dragons???!!! It’s ridiculous and I have seen it so much,
    (Side note: If the front cover has a dragon on it, it increases the ‘sales potential’ by an unbelievable amount…so that’s why they do it. Very deceptive.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post. It is helpful.

    I think I avoided all these cover-design sins, but may have committed some others.

    It used to really bother me when the cover illustration didn’t match my mental picture of the world or characters. Now I’ve realized that cover design artists can’t read my mind … but I still get annoyed whenever details show up in cover illustrations that show the artist obviously did not read the book.

    The Angel of Crows thing looks to me like it might have been an actual mistake … maybe a miscommunication between members of a team, or a last-minute edit by a lone ranger.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I donโ€™t like when they put a random object on the title… Unless itโ€™s symbolic later on, like in Out of My Mind (Must read). I donโ€™t like it when people just through some random moment on the cover, though. ๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 2 people

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