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Creating the right cover for your genre, whether it's contemporary romance, young adult, paranormal, or otherwise, comes down to selecting the best imagery, fonts, and color schemes to represent your story. In this article, we share some common cover elements for these popular genres.

Breakaway by Avery Keelan book coverContemporary romance

Take it from any cover designer—relying on stock images to perfectly capture the characters and story you’re telling can be a challenge. Most images you see on published covers are actually composites of many images, labored over for weeks by very talented designers. In the case of your cover, romance is all about feeling, so when you’re stuck, go by feel. 

What emotion does your story evoke? Can you find imagery to echo and amplify that? If the writing is light and frothy, perhaps a simple image and some playful script will help convey that. Is the writing a bit more pensive and contemplative? Perhaps the colors of a gentle sunrise or sunset can evoke that. Go with your gut and see how it feels.

Common elements for these covers include: 

  • A young attractive couple innocently touching
  • Colorful and calm rural backgrounds
  • Silhouettes that are delicate and romantic
  • Fonts and title treatments that include a combination of serif and sans serif fonts that are usually bold but romantic

Running From the Past by Hudson Miller book coverYoung adult

Young adult covers offer many opportunities for creativity. YA novels tend to focus on growth and the transition from teenager to adult. While YA is a genre in its own right, it can also be combined with a variety of genres including science fiction, fantasy and romance.

You’ve got options. Take a look through the trending YA titles on Wattpad and you’ll see it all, from illustration to type-forward and photographic covers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to covers that capture the vibrancy of youth, but you’ll note some common design trends: 

  • Bright, bold colors
  • Lots of contrast using white or dark space
  • Hand-drawn fonts echoing introspective stories
  • Lots of experimentation with tones—one color goes a long way 

Faithfully Yours by Cayleigh G. Kennedy book coverParanormal and fantasy

In order to design a cover for your paranormal or fantasy story, it’s vital you first identify the story’s subgenre. This will help you determine the best imagery, fonts, and color schemes to use. There is a wide range of subgenres within both genres including high fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy and creature fiction. 

Common elements for these covers include: 

  • Atypical fonts
  • Title treatments that play with word placement
  • Vector shapes
  • Bold, title-only covers
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