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Top Ten SF/F Book Cover Trends

Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks to the gals of The Broke and The Bookish for hosting this meme every week!

I have no shame admitting that covers are often what makes me pick up a book. I even (unfortunately) find myself not being as interested in a book because I don’t like the cover >.>. I’m working on that though! But really, the cover tells you so much: what genre the book is in, a little about the plot, possibly who the main character is, the general feel of the book. I sometimes find the cover being more useful than the synopsis on the back in helping me decide if I want to read the book or not. Also, be warned: I actually like a lot of covers that most people dislike, haha.

Also, the way I made this list was literally by just saving all the book covers that I liked and then trying to find patterns within the 40+ that I chose >.>.

1. Focus on the Main Character

Scarlet by AC Gaughen Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

I like the simplicity of Scarlet and the beauty of Touch of Power but I really like that they both tell me something central about the main character (dagger and magic) and make me like the main character right from the start :D.

2. Epic Scenes

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Handbook for Dragonslayers

Nothing says “awesome fantasy book right here!” like an epic and sweeping illustrated scene from the book :D.

3. Adorable Middle Grade Illustrations

Magic Marks the Spot The Castle Behind the Thorns The Map to Everywhere

I adore middle grade and I especially like middle grade covers that are illustrated.

4. Metaphoric Covers

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards Cruel Beauty

I’m always impressed when a cover is clearly not an actual scene from the book, but still wonderfully captures the main themes of the book. Earth Girl does this well since Jarra is trapped on Earth just like the shackles the cover model is wearing. Cruel Beauty does a great job of reflecting the retelling aspect of the book with the rose and the darker gothic themes that Cruel Beauty includes.

5. Pretty Dresses are Pretty!

Stolen Songbird The Kiss of Deception

 6. Eye See You

Gasp Captive The Relic Guild

I’m sorry, I just can’t help it! My name is Anya and I like eye covers D: To be fair, it isn’t specifically the eyes that I like about these covers, they are also shiny and play with the eye in different ways ;-).

 7. It’s So Shiny!

The Perilous Sea Snow Like Ashes

I just like shiny weird symbols okay? Okay!

8. Tough Girls

Mortal Heart Night Owls Silverblind Night Broken

It looks like the Gods o’ Covers finally got the memo that we don’t want to see women in impossible positions on covers! All these tough heroines are clearly physically possible and ready to kick some butt :D.

9. All in the Details

The Wizard's Promise The Buried Life A Turn of Light

I really like covers that have lots of small details that pertain to the story. The longer I stare at these covers, the more cool details I find! I think my favorite detail is the small fanged toad on the cover of A Turn of Light ;-).

10. Dragons!

Shattered The Voyage of the Basilisk

This doesn’t need explanation right? I didn’t think so ;-)

What are your favorite cover trends? Any other eye-cover lovers out there? :D

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -A

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I love all of your cover picks. I find that fantasy and sci-fi books have some of the best covers, but if you look back a few years, they have the worst ones too. I love the progress that’s been made in the genre in terms of cover greatness.
    Sarah recently posted…Week in review Jun 29My Profile

    • Hehe, so true! There are definitely still some really wretched fantasy and sci-fi, but that gives a good indication of the quality of the book sometimes too D:

  2. I’m thrilled that someone else mentioned dresses. They were so overused a few years back, but I still just love them.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #91My Profile

    • Mwhahaha, as you had the chance to see, I’m super not girly and never wear anything but pants, so I must vicariously love dresses on covers instead ;-). I think the trend was annoying when the dress made no sense in terms of the story, but I have always loved dresses that make sense because the character wears the dress in the story!

  3. I also love covers with dragons (of course), kick-ass chicks, shiny (!!!) epic scenes, MG illustrations AND focus on the MC – though I’m less a fan of just close ups of faces ( I do like both the ones you chose though!) I am not however a fan of eye covers >.< eyes kind of freak me out, I'm always thinking of eye injuries OR the fact that they're just STARING O.O LOL Pretty dresses is another one I'm less of fan of, but only because it's been so overdone. I do like some of them though :) Awesome selection here!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Stacking the Shelves *37*My Profile

    • Haha *hordes all the eye covers* ;-) I agree that pretty dresses are over done. There needs to be more on the cover than just a cover model in a pretty dress I guess, hence the cool glass rose or scene in the background :D

  4. Middle grade covers do get some of the coolest illustrations. I think I’m starting to sense a theme here…so if we ever publish books, make sure the cover is shiny and you will buy it? ;) Great list!
    Kel recently posted…Updates: Bad Book NewsMy Profile

  5. I love that you included dragons in your list. :) I agree with you that middle grade illustrations are awesome – always the best shelves to look at!!
    Kate @ The Book Bee recently posted…TOP TEN TUESDAY #4: 10 Book Cover Trends I LikeMy Profile

  6. I like shiny weird symbols too. :) Covers like Snow Like Ashes and The Perilous Sea tend to be my favorites. I love dragon and dress covers as well!
    Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure recently posted…So You Just Read a Cliffhanger Ending (A Gif Post!)My Profile

  7. OOh nice! I like the pretty dresses too! And the tough chicks! They usually portray a great UF read!!

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    Jessica @ a GREAT read recently posted…Review–Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn DolamoreMy Profile

  8. 1. Focus on the main character; that is a good one! I also picked Scarlet as favorite cover, but for another reason, but I like this.
    3. I love illustrations! My favorite type of cover.
    4. Ooh, good picks. I really like Cruel beauty; how could I forget to include that one??
    5. Pretty dresses, yep! They still get me to want to read a book.
    8. Yeay, also one of my categories this week :D
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday 34. Cover love/hate.My Profile

  9. Nice choices! Middle grade books really do have some cute covers, don’t they?
    La Coccinelle recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Cover Elements I Like/DislikeMy Profile

  10. I will join you in the eye love! I know most people don’t like them, but I just always find it to be so interesting. And ironically enough – I have both Perilous Sea and Snow Like Ashes on my list too for the shiny symbols! I really can’t identify what it is, but from the moment I saw both I knew I MUST HAVE THEM – if only for the pretty covers. And of course dragons needs no other comment, because dragons.

  11. LOL. Love your list, Anya. I agree with most of these. I had a hard time thinking of actual trends, so I didn’t come up with very many, but most of these ought to have been on my list. Dragons! Duh! :D My TTT Post
    Liesel Hill recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Cover TrendsMy Profile

  12. I love all of these cover trends too! The only one I’m not really into is the eye ones. Why is everyone obsessed with eyes? Why don’t we ever see an ear on a cover? I’m a big sucker for anything dress or shiny related though.

  13. I love the details on The Wizard’s Promise cover. I’m not a fan of cover models, and really prefer illustrations and creative fonts. Plus, the aurora borealis is so captivating! The buried life is very eye catching too. Another cool eye cover is Tabula Rasa which comes out in September, I believe. I really like that one.

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