Tuesday, May 22, 2012

YA Book Cover Trends

All around awesome writer and blogger Kate Hart did a comprehensive analysis here of 2011 YA book covers. I can't even imagine the time it took her to compile all this info. She told me she doesn't watch television at all, but this was still an enormous task to take on. Her study yielded results from the interesting (blue is the most common color of traditionally published YA books) to the sad (the downright dismal amount of ethnic diversity in cover models).

Kate followed this up with another post that clarified some reader questions, and addressed what writers can do to help--especially writers who are white (like me). It's very thought-provoking and has me thinking about my own responsibility as an author. Though I have characters in my books who are ethnically and sexually diverse (LGBT), I'm not sure how much control I'd have over the covers. Per Kate's post, even mega-author John Green admitted not loving several of his book covers. I'm not sure what the answer is but Kate poses some great questions that we, as writers, need to keep asking.

Have you read these posts? What are your thoughts on these issues? Anyone else happy to see the decrease in dead girl covers?


  1. I don't know what can be done, but I totally agree it's important to have the conversation.

    And here's what I had to say elsewhere:

    I started writing the manuscript long before I knew a single thing about publishing, but I'm proud to say my first book features a protagonist who is white, Asian, AND African, who falls in love with a white girl, and has Chinese, Japanese, Jamaican, white, Jewish, and British/Ex-Pat Indian friends.

    I didn't set out to write a cast of diverse characters on purpose. Those were just the characters that came to me, because those are the kinds of people I know.

  2. Matthew--that's awesome, but what's happened in other cases is that the girl on the cover ends up being white despite her ethnicity. I'm not sure how writers can collectively change that, but it's an important issue. Your book sounds really interesting, BTW! :)

  3. FYI, I don't think I get auto-notified unless you set your comments up for that embedded reply thing, which seems glitchy.

    Anyway, here's what I emailed Kristy, in case anyone else wants to know:

    I think that's the saddest part of the problem. It's not even up to the author. Sigh.

  4. I think the thing that struck me most about Kate's post this year is how none of the black girls were front and center and facing the camera while the few Asian and Latino girls featured were. That the bulk of the black girls counted were tiny figures in the background really stung. I do hope that this is something that gives those in the business of designing, buying, and marketing books pause.

  5. Valerie--I noticed that too, or that they were "behind" the white person. I was also surprised that the indie published books were just as guilty, being that they have complete control over their covers. I hope people keep addressing this issue.

  6. Well, just because they have control of their covers doesn't mean they write about non-white main characters. I'm sure their covers reflect what's in their books. Which is really the issue for me. Not enough diversity when it comes to main characters.

  7. That's very true...and something I struggle with being white. I read that Kathryn Stockett (The Help) got a lot of criticism for writing black characters since she's white. I don't know what the answer is but this whole issue bothers me.


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