Genre Covers

My post on my subconscious book-choosing rules has spawned a child.  Since most of us seem to have strong preference when it comes to genres, it makes sense for publishers to develop clear genre styles.

I remember reading a post about Gothic romances that feature a woman, in a night dress outside a house with a light in one window.

So what other genre cover clichés are there?   I’m starting with the easy ones:

As many colours as possible, but predominantly purple and gold.  Featuring the following:

  • a horse
  • a dragon
  • a sword
  • a girl with long flowing hair, who is usually:
  1. Standing on a cliff – top
  2. Riding a horse or dragon
  3. Brandishing a sword
  4. All of the above.

Murder Mystery:

A close up photograph of a seemingly arbitrary collection of domestic objects that acquire a sinister air in proximity with one another.

Usually featuring:

  • a garden implement
  • a syringe
  • blood stains
  • broken glass


  • a girl with long flowing hair who is always:
    1. cropped in close-up
    2. dead
  • and sometimes:
    1. naked.

**Post Post edit. **

Jeez what’s with the automatic wordpress related links?  Please note, not my doing.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andries
    Jul 16, 2009 @ 23:07:49

    you can disable the Impossibly Unrelated Posts.

  2. Shanra
    Jul 17, 2009 @ 20:12:57

    *bemused* Somehow, I seem to have missed those fantasy covers. ^-~ My idea of a ‘standard’ cover is actually with a castle on it. Probably comes from childhood books where I read loads of pseudo-medieval books.

    Scifi tends to have spaceships, though, and books with female protagonists seem to enjoy sporting her centred with a big gun in her hands and a futuristic/alien landscape behind her. Edit as needed.

    Romance, of course, tends to have a depiction of the main couple in an alluring pose. Or have the woman in one.

    Paranormal romance tends to feature the heroine/main character as well. Or at least part of her. *gestures at Patricia Briggs covers* Like those.

  3. mashadutoit
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 09:31:18

    “paranormal romance” – that one slipped by me somehow. Vampires and such?

  4. Shanra
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 09:38:30

    Vampires, werewolves, demons, fae… Pretty much anything that’s romance using non-humans (and non-aliens) is go, as far as I know. *not a big romance reader* Spends an awful lot of time mingling with ‘urban fantasy’ too. Lots of examples. ^-^

    Which reminds me, if you’re curious about the ‘subconcious signals’ with which we pick up books in book stores this is the book review I was talking about.

  5. mashadutoit
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 12:36:57

    Thanks for the links. Great to find another book blog. I like the way she calls them “red flags”. She mentions another red flag that I did not put in…photographic covers. I loathe photographic covers, especially if they feature the people in the story. I really cant tell you why but its strong enough that I wont buy a bargain edition even of my most favourite books if they have a photo on the cover.

  6. Shanra
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 12:50:21

    Welcome. ^-^ Glad you appreciate the linkage. ^-^

    I think, for me, it’s because it looks cheap or sometimes just doesn’t fit the feel of the genre/book. (There are exceptions. I quite like this cover, for all its a photograph, for example. And of course other genres have a wholly different set of criteria.)

    One thing this reminds me of and hasn’t been mentioned yet is movie tie-in editions. I have a few of them and will likely have a few more, but I really, really, really dislike them. I have no idea why. Probably it’s the celebrities on the cover.

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