Which Cover?

Here’s a couple of question that have come up on Twitter: what kind of cover puts you off a fantasy or science fiction book? I also wonder about the reverse: in both genres, what kind of cover catches your eye and makes you turn the book over to take a look at the blurb, or maybe read a bit of the first page?

Here’s a section from an interview I’m doing now for the Mad Hatter, which seems relevant:

MH: Tor UK has been recently re-releasing many of your books with new cover art, which I must say are usually outstanding. I’ve noticed they’re usually going with some sort of crazy looking monster-alien creature popping off the page. Before I had read The Skinner I thought they’d be a crazy Horror/Sci-Fi mash-up, while they are clearly more than that were you going for a Horror feel at all. Do many of the stories involve monsters of a sort?


Neal Asher: Yes, many of my stories involve monsters, some of which, of course, are human. I don’t think the intention was to go for a horror feel to the books, since the horror market is not exactly in the rude health it was in twenty or so years ago. I think here we have more of a case of unashamed cover design. This is science fiction, this is science fiction with aliens, big guns and weird robots and, no matter what any myopic twits in the publishing industry might think, we are not going to have a still-life cover featuring a rose and a handgun.


MH: I think fans appreciate it. You can only have so many ephemeral space stations and ringed world covers…

And here’s some Facebook replies, fantasy first:

Jesper Krogsgaard: If it’s all light, bright and glamour I usually stay 100 miles away. It has to be at least a bit gritty – unless it’s a comedy.

Colin Strawbridge: Generic ‘bodice ripper’ type pictures are a big turn off.


Stuart McMillan: Heaving bosoms and demure damsels keep my wallet *in* my pocket. Saying that, great chested men with giant weapons are equally a turn-off.


Andy Plumbly: Typical bright colours and a generic character on the front. Saying that….Gridlinked originally caught my eye because of it’s snazzy cover (the green one). Loving all the newer covers of yours too!

And now SF:


Jesper Krogsgaard: Ewoks. Cute and fuzzy. Using conventional pictures doesn’t provide enough mystery unless you twist it. Again, like with fantasy, I like it gritty, dark and dangerous.

Colin Strawbridge: I think the typefaces used are more important than pictures; Gollancz have managed pretty well all these years without resorting to lurid graphics.One thing i find especially disconcerting is when they put celebrity reviewers names in much larger print than the actual author.

What do all you reading this think?

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