Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 14, 2022

Book Cover 101: Trends in Women’s Fiction and Literature

by Melinda VanLone

Beautiful book with floral arrangement, candle, tea, and wedding rings
Image by meganlynchnz from Pixabay

This is the last of my series focusing on current book cover trends for 2022. If you’ve missed any of the others, you can find them here:

Women's Fiction Cover Trends

Women’s Fiction, or Women’s Literature, is an interesting beast. It’s a broad genre, accounting for a huge chunk of the marketplace. That said, it’s hard to get a grasp on because it’s an umbrella term that it encompasses a wide range of sub genres, much like Young Adult. 

In general, Women’s Lit encompasses all sorts of life experiences and includes everything from romance (though generally not the central plot or the only main focus) to family drama to death and taxes.

Women’s Lit is usually the first shelf you see when you walk into the bookstore. We expect these books to take up prime real estate on the shelf, both in the store and at home.

That means they need to look pretty or striking. They have to catch your attention like a museum piece that almost nobody understands or an Oscar winning movie that nobody watches.

More than that, they really need to look good on TikTok.

TikTok Influence

Of all the publishing trends we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the biggest by far is the influence TikTok has had on publishing. A prime example of this is Colleen Hoover. Her TikTok popularity combined with her publisher’s take on the most recent covers is single-handedly responsible for a seismic shift in cover trends and a HUGE uptick in sales. Take a look at the top five best sellers last week:

top 5 books - Colleen Hoover, Delia Owens, and Sarah J Maas

The first thing to notice is that Colleen Hoover owns the top five in Literary Fiction/Women’s Lit. She actually dominates the top ten and beyond, depending on which sub categories you look at. TikTok put her there, in part because Booktokers love those covers. 

These covers are influencing not only Women’s Lit but other genres as well. Roaming around TikTok I discovered one of the main reasons for this is that these covers are “discreet”. They don’t shout about the subject inside. They look “literary” or “smart” and they definitely look attractive.

In other words, nobody feels like they need to hide these books like they do one with a naked man chest cover.

If you’re writing romance, thriller, or mystery, jumping on the Colleen Hoover trend train could help boost your sales. These trends include, in no particular order:

1. Large, In-Your-Face Fonts

This trend might partially be due to sheer necessity. It’s hard to read titles on tiny icon size images, so the bigger you make them the easier it will be for your customer to ponder whether they want to click. While type usually takes a back seat to pictures, in this case the type IS the picture. It Ends With Us, Ugly Love, and It Starts With Us all feature enormous type that works with the background to form a pretty piece of art that would look fantastic in your hand when you’re telling your TikTok audience all about how much you loved the book.

book covers showing big fonts

2. Minimalistic Background

It used to be geometric shapes or possibly soft landscapes that dominated Women’s Lit. Think old school Danielle Steele.

Danielle Steel covers

They were minimalistic, yes, but in a completely different way. The colors were subdued. The title was thin or practically invisible. Honestly, if these covers were in Barnes and Noble today, you’d probably walk right past them. Gold foil on the title isn’t enough to catch the reader’s attention these days.

Today’s fiction cover is bolder and more in your face. It’s focused on one image in a big, big way.

Having one central image, or even nothing but a gradient, in the background makes the cover stand out on our digital screens. Tiny details get lost unless you’re holding the physical book in your hands and even then, less is more. Notice the basic simplicity of Colleen Hoover’s backgrounds.

6 books by Colleen Hoover

3. Flowers

A huge trend for Women’s Fiction right now is flowers. One flower, a dozen flowers, an entire collage of flowers, it doesn’t matter. Flowers are colorful, bright, and pretty. You can convey a wide range of emotions with them too (is there anything sadder than a dying flower?).

Just ask Lucy Score how well flowers work for a cover. (Hint… she owned the top spot for both eBook AND print, with this book, for weeks.)

3 covers that feature flowers

Trends are a funny thing. What’s hot today could be gone tomorrow, literally. That said, what I see happening here is the desire for something that makes the reader happy to see it on their bookshelf, to hold it in their hands, and to show it off to others. That’s something that I don’t see going away any time soon.

I’m re-thinking my own covers with all this in mind. How about you?

* * * * * *

About Melinda

Melinda VanLone is a coffee addict, a cat lover, and avid writer of stories about rascally heroes and sassy heroines who live happily ever after in spite of themselves. She shares her house with her fur babies and the love of her life, Mr. Melinda, who spends most of his time at home huddled under blankets because the thermostat remains under her iron control. 

When she's not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her designing covers that sell, taking brisk walks around the neighborhood and failing to resist the pistachio muffins at the nearest local coffee shop. Head on over to melindavan.com to check out her latest writerly doings, or hop over to bookcovercorner.com to peak at her cover designs.

All photo credits - Melinda VanLone except as noted.

5 comments on “Book Cover 101: Trends in Women’s Fiction and Literature”

  1. I love this series of post, Melinda. I haven't looked at cover trends the way you do, so this has educated me on how to do it better. I got a great cover designer (who knew way more than I) and changed my covers about a year ago. The new covers are making a difference in my sales.Thank you.

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