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How accurate should the cover art be?

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Joe Benet
Posts: 87
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter

Need opinions and guidance.

If my cover art conceptually is a location in the story (a room), how accurate should it be? Or can the cover be stylized to look better even if, for example, the walls and ceiling don't match the written description?

Thanks for your insight.

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Posted : June 1, 2023 8:47 am
Gideon Smith
Posts: 144
Silver Member

I seem to remember there are some fairly famous examples of covers that don't match the contents... Like Harry Dresden always being in a hat, but never in the actual book. To the extent that Jim Butcher even put a line in one of the later volumes along the lines of "You KNOW I don't wear hats" 

Or the current Witcher covers being from things in the game, not the book. And I seem to remember Anne Mccaffrey having some strong opinions on which of her book covers looked like "her dragons" and which did not. But its just a memory, so all of this may need fact checking 

Something  like that....

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Posted : June 1, 2023 11:45 am
Posts: 2087
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While fans will grumble about a "bad" cover, you first have to have fans. To have fans, you have to sell books. To sell books, you have to have a great cover.

Internal illustrations are a different matter, but a cover is not an illustration of your book, it's an advertisement for your book. Its number one purpose is to make the reader pick up or click on that book. Its secondary purpose is to not completely mislead the reader: if the cover has a dragon, there had better be a dragon in the book. But precisely that dragon? No, not necessary. Nice, but not necessary.


This is the cover to Back to the Moon by Travis Taylor and Les Johnson. When I saw that cover, I picked the book up, and I didn't put it down until I finished reading it. I had to have that book. And when I was done, that scene did not appear anywhere in the book! But by then I didn't care, it's an awesome book. Did I feel cheated? No,  it's an awesome book. (My guess is that scene was discussed early on, and the artist ran with it.)

Accuracy is a bonus. A cover that sells books is the goal.
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Posted : June 2, 2023 4:51 pm
Posts: 18
Advanced Member

Hey, great question! Cover art is a creative representation that captures the essence of your story. While accuracy is important, artistic interpretation can enhance the visual appeal. A stylized cover can intrigue readers and convey the mood, even if it's not an exact match. Just ensure key elements resonate with your story's vibe. Balancing accuracy and aesthetics can make your cover truly captivating. Best of luck with your creative journey!

Posted : August 8, 2023 12:12 am
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