Tag Archives: genre

Learning from rejections – book cover designers share their stories


Designing good book covers is difficult. It is creative work that requires that the designer is able to capture the essence of a book in an image that pleases everyone, especially the publisher’s marketing department, and is attractive from a reader’s point of view. 12 book cover designers have shared their stories on their works that were killed before they were published.

If you examine covers of different genres of books, you instantly notice how the genre defines many factors for the cover. Romance covers tend to have a man and a woman in, crime novels often have dark covers, text books show an item from the contents of the book, and nonfiction books have something about the overall theme of the book.

The most difficult book covers to design are for a genre that is so broad that it is hard to define: literary books.

3 book covers, same book3 cover designs for the same book. Left: the original book cover in France. Center: rejected cover. Right: published cover design.

Creative Review has managed to get stories from 12 cover designers on their works that were rejected. Many stories have a lesson that the designer learnt from the setback.

One of the stories and the key takeaway of the project is told by Thy Bui who was the first designer to try and create the cover for a book: “This cover was scrapped, as were a few more attempts. The final cover was designed by Sophie Burdess. So the lessons learnt? That there is almost always a hiccup somewhere along the process – accept this. And, there is no right or wrong design for a book cover. Our role as designers is to explore the options.”

Designing a cover for an ebook is the same thing as for a print book. A collection of ebook cover designs from multiple designers can be viewed, for instance, at the book cover design awards page. Each cover has a brief review. These books are very genre-specific, making judging their covers easier than, for instance, literary book covers.

These Book Genres Are Trending


Nielsen Bookscan collects book sales numbers from outlets and compiles them into statistics that give us a view what kind of books have been popular lately. If we take last year’s sales numbers and compare them with 2013 numbers, we can find out which genres were trending in 2014.

In 2014 in the US, three best-selling nonfiction book genres were religion, reference and general nonfiction.

Three trending genres in 2014 were self-help (+15% from 2013), biographies (+12%) and religion (+12%).

Three genres that were losing readers were humor (-13% from 2013), computers (-12%) and history/law/politics (-11%).

Here are the numbers (units in thousands).

  2013 2014 % CHANGE
Adult Nonfiction
Religion/Bibles 32,012 35798 12%
Reference 32,642 31989 -2%
General Nonfiction 29,509 28533 -3%
Biography/Autobiography/Memoir 20,425 22803 12%
Health/Fitness/Medicine/Sports 22,488 21574 -4%
Business/Economics 15,473 16604 7%
Cooking/Entertaining 15,363 15492 1%
History/Law/Political Science 17,080 15220 -11%
Self-Help 8,546 9848 15%
Crafts/Hobbies/Antiques/Games 8,314 8485 2%
Performing Arts 7,358 7706 5%
Travel 7,658 7417 -3%
Art/Architecture/Design/Photography 6,739 6984 4%
Humor 5,604 4897 -13%
Computers 5,311 4652 -12%
House & Home/Gardening 2,309 2130 -8%
Total Adult Nonfiction 236,833 240,130 1%
Adult Fiction
General Fiction 36,314 33524 -8%
Romance 34,585 30885 -11%
Suspense/Thrillers 22,161 20111 -9%
Mystery/Detective 14,884 14304 -4%
Graphic Novels 7,659 8669 13%
Classics 7,817 7578 -3%
Fantasy 8,615 7526 -13%
Religion 4,925 4174 -15%
Science Fiction 4,448 4142 -7%
Occult/Psychological/Horror 4,474 3329 -26%
Action/Adventure 2,619 2239 -15%
Western 2,088 2232 7%
Total Adult Fiction 150,590 138,712 -8%


Fiction books lost a lot of readers during 2014. All fiction genres, except for graphic novels and westerns sold fewer books in 2014 than in 2013.

Publishers Weekly reported.