Author Alma Katsu on Book Covers

Author Alma Katsu on Book Covers

This is a guest post by Alma Katsu, author of The Taker and The Reckoning. As I mentioned on my review of The Taker, the cover is just gorgeous. It is a pleasure to hear more about how a book’s cover comes to life. Thanks to Ms. Katsu for this blog post.


Cover Art: A Portrait For Your Book

There are few things as important to a book’s success than it’s cover. If the cover doesn’t entice you, chances are you’ll never read the first few lines of jacket copy or pick it up from the shelf at the local bookstore, and you’ll never know if the story inside is the one that’s going to change your life.

Readers are often surprised to learn that publishers control what the cover will look like. The author will be shown the final version and can ask for changes, but only best-selling authors be able say what ultimately goes on the outside of her book.

That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. My publisher has experience in this area, not me. I can tell you what I prefer but I have no idea if it will resonate with all the potential readers of my book. Covers send all kinds of subtle messages to readers through color, font, placements of blurbs and icons and all that.

I think that selecting a cover is twice as hard for books like The Taker and The Reckoning, ones that don’t fit neatly into one genre or another. We wanted something that conveyed the book’s mystery and sinister, dark mood but also wasn’t too hard-edged and would still appeal to women readers. The hardcover of The Taker was meant to convey a Gothic feeling, softened with the golden scrolls. The trade paperback cover with a woman’s face wearing an ornate Venetian mask is quite different, and definitely more feminine. While it is a departure, it’s pretty common for the paperback cover to be less abstract than the hardcover. I think this artwork gives readers a sense of the heroine’s character, that she’s a woman of mystery, but so much more.

The Reckoning’s cover is even more of a departure. It still features a woman’s face and the heroine’s trademark blue eyes, but perhaps favors glamour over a more sinister feel. I’ve been told that it’s very striking and stands out, whether on a bookshelf or as a thumbnail online. So far, readers’ responses have been quite positive.

And now it’s your turn: what are your favorite book covers of all time? Have you ever bought a book for its cover?

BONUS: If you’re interested in what goes into designing a book cover, you might be interested in this video showing how one of Gail Carriger’s covers was put together. ((

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker and The Reckoning, the first two books in a supernatural trilogy about a dark, obsessive love that spans centuries. The Taker has been published in English worldwide, and translation rights have been sold in ten languages. The Taker was also picked by Booklist/American Library Association as one of the top ten debut novels of last year. You can find out more about the novels at


One thought on “Author Alma Katsu on Book Covers

  1. I love books, but ones with beautiful covers are almost irresistable! The cover of THE TAKER (US hardcover) was perfect with it’s gothic, mysterious feel, and the paperback (US) cover is a spot-on match for the story. I have the US hardcover of THE RECKONING on the island in my kitchen so I can pick it up and read it anytime I can steal a moment. I have raved over the drama and beauty of that cover to anyone who is nearby and will listen!

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