Cover Art Wish List

Warning: This post may be more interesting to me that anyone else. You’ve been warned.

I’ve written no novels yet. However, why let that stop me from issuing my demands — excuse me, preferences — for book cover art? I have simple tastes, but I know what I want. Might as well get thus on record now for when artists clamor for the honor of catering to my artistic whims. And there will be whims, I assure you!

In all honesty, if the time ever comes that I do write novels, I’ll be honored to have someone represent my work with his or her art. Let the record show my gratitude in advance, as well as the promise of future praise and gifts of exotic beetles. Okay, not the beetles. Those are mine.

Anyway, my book cover art wish list. In list form!

1. I’m not here to sightsee.

I care more about people (and other things that might not be considered “people”) than I do about the scenery. So, characters front and center. Since I care so little about the location, should they be floating in some kind of void or limbo? Mmm, maybe not. At least give me a lamppost or something. Or a tree. Two trees, if you’re feeling adventurous.

I want readers to meet my characters right away. So, the cover is the handshake of introduction. I don’t want my readers shaking hands with a mountain or a castle or something. That’s just crazy talk, and I will thank you not to continue this talk of human/landscape intermingling. It ain’t right.

Exceptions? Well, maybe if my story has some kind of interesting machines conveying characters around the story world, like airships or steampunk mechs or something, I wouldn’t mind seeing those. Maybe.

2. Smile, you’re on candid camera.

Is anyone reading this even going to get that reference? *frantically googles Candid Camera, praying he didn’t just make himself look old and unhip, daddy-o* Oh good, it actually made it to this millennium. Carry on, then.

How many people are just standing around, posed for dramatic effect? I mean really? Unless they’re staring into a mirror and considering growing a beard and are trying to decide the proper style and length that finds the sweet spot between hipster and Sasquatch. Heh, Sasquatch would make a funny hipster. “Clear pictures are too mainstream.” Then the Loch Ness Monster would scoff and sip his half-caff mochaccino because he was being photographed before it was cool.

Whoa, I digressed big time. Back on topic!

Standing around, posing, dramatic. No. What is this, Facebook? Instead of having characters who obviously knew the artist was watching them, let’s have them ignore the “camera lens” and do something freaking amazing, or at least not yawn-worthy. Cutting up some goblins, perhaps. Casting mad spells, yo. Riding a flying guinea pig named Sven. I could go on, but I’m afraid I’d start talking about cryptids again.

And no staring at that “camera,” characters. You’ve got more important things to do than moon for your fans, you puffed-up popinjay. Pretend you’re an actor…an actor pretending to be a character (and don’t keep that train of thought going or the paradox will melt your cerebellum). Actors do not look at the camera. You know, ignoring mockumentaries and stuff like that. Neither should you.

Exceptions?¬†This one, while not ironclad, is at least bronzeclad. I can’t think of any “posed” cover I would find interesting — wait, I got one. If it was a scene where the character was actually posing for something, like another character painting him, or like a Civil War photograph, I suppose that’s kind of interesting. Oh, and I suppose a close-up shot of a character’s face might work, but only if that face is damn fascinating, and perhaps bloody.

3. You going to use that or are you just holding it for someone?

Too often we see characters holding a gun or a sword in a thoroughly non-dramatic way. I want that gun aimed at something, a finger squeezing that trigger. I want that sword being the only thing standing between that character and a messy end. If a character is holding a prop, can we have her using it? Especially if it’s a death ray because those make pretty lights.

Exceptions? Not sure. If anyone wants to suggest props that are better held than used, feel free to suggest them.

4. I prefer pie to cake, especially if the cake is beefy or cheesy.

I don’t want beefcake or cheesecake. I know, I know, “sex sells,” but I plan to keep all the sex appeal on the inside of the book in a section called “About the Author.” Awwwwww yeah. *waggling of eyebrows*


Why no scantily-clad people? It just seems…silly to me. Like when a female warrior is wearing impractical armor that bares her midriff. Insert sword here, it might as well say.

Exceptions? I don’t know. Barbarians? They don’t wear much by design. Let’s say that skin is allowed if the characters are blas√© about it. “Oh, my muscles are glistening with sweat and hypnotizing you? Can’t think about that now, man, I’m too busy wrestling this koala bear. This DIRE koala bear!”

5. No dog poop.
No clever heading here. No explanation even needed, right? I don’t want people picking up my book and seeing a piece of doggy doo. Why am I even still talking about this one?

LIST OVER. You made it, buddy! Have a Gatorade.

So that’s it. I guess I just want book covers that are as riveting as my books (hopefully) will be.

Like this one I found by doing a Google search just now.

Check this guy out. He don't even care.

Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk. Cover art by Michael Komarck.

This is awesome. Neither character is looking into the camera. The man is crouched, but in an active way, ready to spring, ready to make with the stabbity stab with those wicked daggers. Plus there’s a freaking ghost right there. I’d be proud to have art like this.

I hope I do, someday. Guess part of that is up to me.