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Urban Fantasy Covers & Marketing

Ned Marcus

For any urban fantasy readers/writers, How important do you think it is for book cover to follow the trends of the subgenre? My first urban fantasy novel is almost ready, and I need to sort out a cover, but I dislike the usual covers. They all look the same to me. I know that this is supposed to be good because it helps readers identify the subgenre, but I feel uncomfortable commissioning the type of cover that I'll probably dislike.

Any thoughts on this?
but I dislike the usual covers. They all look the same to me.
You mean the default photoshopped character stuck onto a background urban fantasy cover? If so, then I agree with you. They're all the same and most are ugly.

My thoughts are that you don't want a cover you'll hate, but you do want a cover which people understand. Also, you want your cover to stand out for the right reasons. There is a bit of room to play around, since there's not just one type of cover for a genre. The brightly colored protagonist is for me the most common UF cover, but A. E. Lowan also writes UF (I think), and she (they?) goes with a city background and a mystical symbol. There's also covers with a magical artifact on it which work.

So I would look for those you like and pick the elements that do work for you. And go from there.


Prince of Spires above offers some solid advice. It is a balance, between what you like (and don't like--your name is on the cover after all), and what is generally recognized (and successful) in the urban fantasy subgenre by readers. A cover is a key marketing tool.

Do a reasonably extensive survey of recently released Urban Fantasy titles that are doing well, a mix of traditionally published and self-published titles. Yours should probably fall within that range. Also, you might be able to identify some cover artists/designers that would be worthwhile seeking their services.

Another thing to consider, especially if it the work is to be considered the first in a series, a sort of branding layout,/design/content so that readers can recognize books that are part of the series, once there are several published. You may even factor this in with respect to the cover artist you might hire.

Go to amazon, search out the best sellers currently in your genre, and see what sort of covers they have. I think covers aren't about what you as an author like. They're a marketing tool. So hold your nose and jump into the pool of what sells!

Cheers, Greg.

Ned Marcus

Thanks, everyone. Some good points. Yes, some urban fantasy covers are better than others. I like some of Jim Butcher's Dresden File covers even though I don't really like his novels.