A Question of Covers: Should Book Covers Contain Human Models, Or Not?

This is a question which I have often considered whilst being in the process of selecting a cover for a book; should a book cover contain human models, and, if so, does this have a major impact on the perception of a book and, in turn, its sales results? While it could be argued that it is dependent upon the story, theme and other important factors, and, that some covers are evocative for containing depictions of inanimate objects such as a sword, globe etcetera, without models, I would like to forward my own example of using human models on a book cover.

My original book cover for THE GREAT HIGH SCHOOL LOVE GAME is below. While the theme of the book was somewhat exemplified by the love hearts in the image, it could be classified as being generic in tone, and, possibly as a consequence of this, sales of the book were slow.

THE GREAT HIGH SCHOOL LOVE GAME cover

THE GREAT HIGH SCHOOL LOVE GAME cover

Changing the book cover to one which contains images of the four main characters, as seen below, has made the cover, in my opinion, more representative of the story, and the love quadrangle theme which it explores. I was also fortunate to source photographs of models who greatly resembled my vision of my book’s characters, which in turn expressed my vision to readers in a clearer manner. Sales of the book have improved since the change, possibly because of the fact, without wishing to sound superficial, images of attractive people do seem to assist in helping to ‘sell’ a book to prospective readers.

THE GREAT HIGH SCHOOL LOVE GAME cover

While my experience, and observations are but one example, it has made me more conscious of the above, and, out of my next four books, three will feature models on the cover. This, though, will not be using models just for the sake of it – I feel that this will be best for expressing the stories’ themes to readers in the clearest manner. At this point I pose the question to you which I originally asked in this post – should book covers contain human models, or not?

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2 thoughts on “A Question of Covers: Should Book Covers Contain Human Models, Or Not?

  1. I believe that models might well help for romance-themed books, but that’s just a guess. My experience is that free books ‘sell’ rather well regardless; priced ones not so much. However, my best priced seller is a story called “Amish Country” which features a very simple photo of a field for a cover. Quite obviously then, the title (and popular fascination with all things Amish) is the draw. And even though the reviews have been, at best, rather mixed, it still accounts for the overwhelming majority of my book earnings, such as they are. (I’m thinking since my other books sell so poorly, maybe I should try a test-market re-issue of my one book of collected stories as “Rez-erection” with an appropriately risque cover featuring a bare-chested native American brave. Not really, but one can’t help but think that sort of thing, and worse, is what does really well, judging by the overwhelming majority of what’s on offer at Smashwords most days.)

    • Thank you for explicating your experience with covers, your points are very interesting, and your example is great as a contrast to my experience. Two of my current books feature an image but no models, and a further book coming out soon will also feature an image without models on the cover. My next three books, though, will feature models on the cover. I’ve sometimes found that an image without models can speak volumes about the story’s content, but it’s always dependent upon our vision, and what we want to convey to readers. It’s just one of these points where what may work for one may not work for another etcetera.

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