How to Make a Clichéd High Fantasy Cover

I’m not averse to a few fantasy clichés on a book cover – they let me know at a glance that I’m looking at a fantasy fiction novel, and can be nice if used in creative or appealing ways. As with all clichés, however, they become eye-roll-worthy when used en masse, i.e. when several standard tropes are all packed into the one artwork. If a book tries to cover too many bases, it can start to look a little silly.

I’ve encountered a few covers that take it a bit far, but I thought it’d be amusing to go even further, and have a bit of fun with the tropes of my favourite genre… so here is my recipe for a no-holds-barred, all-boxes-ticked, epic high fantasy book cover (accompanied by examples from the most clichéd design I can muster). I’m no graphic designer, but I imagine that will add a nice level of unprofessional shine to my examples. Continue reading

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5 Features That Make Me Fall in Love With a Book Cover

I’ve always loved beautiful book covers. I enjoy adding them to Pinterest boards and putting them in prominent places on my shelf. A great cover can help convince me to buy a book, and I’ll pay more to get an edition with a cover I prefer. However, a year or so ago I wrote a post highlighting some typical features of fantasy book covers, and since then I’ve paid even closer attention to the content and style of them. I’ve noticed there are certain features I have a distinct preference for – ones that catch my eye and make me want to reach out and grab the books they adorn. So I thought it might be fun to list some not-so-secret ways a book cover can enchant me: Continue reading

Crows and Ravens in Fantasy

Dragons are strongly associated with fantasy fiction, so much so that they have become a symbol for the genre. Given that these imaginary beasts only inhabit the realms of fantasy, fairy tale and legend, and thrill many a reader, this makes sense. However, I’d argue the humble crow or raven pops up in fantasy books and films just as often, even if it is sometimes in a more symbolic or background role.

Since I love crows, and recently changed the look of my blog to feature a crow rather prominently, I thought this might be a good excuse to take a closer look at these sometimes under-appreciated birds and their prevalence in speculative fiction. Continue reading

What Makes a Good Book Tagline?

A great tagline can help sell books and give readers an idea of what kind of story they’re picking up. However, titles, covers and blurbs play a much larger role in book marketing, so taglines (aka straplines or endlines in the UK) are rarely discussed. We’re more likely to associate them with the subtitles on movie posters or trailers, and most of us would be hard-pressed to quote the tagline of our favourite novel. In spite of this, I’d wager that at least one out of every two books you pick up will have a slogan or catchphrase that appears on its front or back cover.

So this week I’ve collected 20 stand-out taglines from various books on my shelf and analysed which ones I like, which ones I don’t, and why I believe they do or don’t do a good job of selling the novel. Continue reading

How a Book Gets My Attention

I’ve always been fascinated by how books are discovered – by how a person ends up finding and deciding to read a particular novel amidst the ever-growing sea of books swirling around them. Since starting to write myself I’ve become even more fascinated by this process, knowing I may one day have a book out there that I hope to get into readers’ hands.

Sadly I don’t have the expertise or the data to analyse how most people find the books they read. However, I do know my own habits and behaviours as a reader, so for interest’s sake I thought I’d take a look at how a book can stand out from the crowd for me and make it onto my “to-read” shelf. Continue reading

Judging a Book by Its Cover: 17 Typical Features of Fantasy Covers

If you’re wandering through a store or scanning a website, it’s generally easy to recognise a fantasy novel. Most covers have features and styles that make them unmistakable. In fact, fantasy and science fiction novels have a history of standing out… and not always in a positive way.  They are famous for their gaudy, bizarre and sometimes downright ugly cover art – there’s even a website dedicated to collecting the worst sci-fi and fantasy book covers. Continue reading