Nail your genre
Sci-fi and fantasy readers are very visually literate, informed by over 100 years of imagery. And these books are marketed to niche groups. “Film posters often just set a mood, and are hyped via robust advertising including trailers and film stars,” says Dave Seeley, who has illustrated book covers for Baen, Del Rey and Tor. “Mainstream publishing for big-name authors can get away with that, but sci-fi and fantasy novels, marketed to a niche fan base, can’t. Maybe that’ll change, but they currently need to tell a potential reader that the book is sci-fi or fantasy at a glance. That can be accomplished with obvious cues like spaceships, planets, or future technology for sci-fi, or medieval weapons, dragons or visible magic for fantasy. Sometimes cues can be bold, sometimes quite subtle.”
Dave Seeley’s cover leaves readers in no doubt that there will be
guns and sci-fi cities inside.