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Sunday, May 25, 2008

10 Standout Christian Fiction Book Covers

By Mike Duran

While a good book cover doesn't make a book "good," it can sure leave an impression. I recently perused the
AIGA Book Design awards and found myself lamenting the absence of inspirational fiction titles. So I turned to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Yet the ECPA Book Cover Awards appear to focus largely on non-fiction titles (and there are some really good ones). The lone fiction title in 2007's finalists was Bethany House's, The Dead Whisper On. Surely there must be more than one good Christian Fiction book cover! It launched me on a bit of quest.

So after endless Amazon surfing, hours wandering the local chains, I have compiled 10 Standout Christian Fiction Book Covers. Disclaimer: The following selections are not part of a scientific survey, nor am I employed by a publisher or marketing firm (although, for a pittance, I can shill with the best of 'em). These are my personal faves. The list is unordered, and I think representative of some of the better book covers in religious fiction.

Foreboding. Mysterious. But the name Adam conjures other images. Was the bridge of a nose ever so suggestive? Dekker does black. Again.

Masts, maps and vast blue. Looks like it was pulled out of a moldy chest along with some doubloons and a cutlass. But what's a Firefish?

Splash! Red on blue's a winner. But what about those little hands...

This is one of my personal favorites. The eye is drawn to that clamped, compressed, cranium. But what's going on inside it?

Beautifully minimal; word and image complement each other. And the cat's tail even serves as an exclamation point.

Sepia sky and water silhouette, drawing our interest toward the horizon. But what are they looking at?

Conjuring a confluence of questions. What's the pedestal for? Did that woman leave it? Or is she taking center stage? Maybe my favorite of the bunch.

Blues and blacks! Two levels of intrigue -- the broken glass and the man behind it. This cover seizes your attention.

The "star" part is obvious, but the "dark"? Our eye is drawn upward, but the face is just out of reach. Evokes the best -- and worst -- of rock.

Whimsical, pink and neon green. This is a superhero unlike one we've seen. And there's so many curves...

So that's my ten best. There was actually quite a few to choose from. Some other notable covers were...

Whaddya think? Any of these your favorites? What other Christian Fiction book covers have left an impression on you, and why?


  1. Mike, thanks for bringing up this hugely important aspect of selling a book that goes so rarely rewarded. There are some great cover designers out there who deserve attention.

    Here's a few other recent covers that caught my eye: "Zora and Nicky" by Claudia Mair Burney; "Hood" by Stephen Lawhead; "By Reason of Insanity" by Randy Singer; and, on a personal note, "Field of Blood" by yours truly.

    Interesting topic, though. What catches our eye? What makes us open the cover to read more?

  2. As a reader, I think covers are unbelievably important. Thankfully CF publishers are thinking long and hard about them. Some of my favs are Deep Blue by Tom Morrisey, House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo, Fossil Hunter by John Olson, Sinner by Ted Dekker, When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin, Less Than Dead by Tim Downs, Stepping Into Sunlight by Sharon Hinck, Betrayed by Jeanette Windle....I could go on!

    I also like the covers to match descriptions in the books. Fussy, I know but it bothers me as it appears the publisher doesn't have full knowledge of the book (or at least doesn't worry about it!)

  3. Wow! Great suggestions! Eric, I hadn't seen "Zora and Nicky." Not only does the cover play on the "black" and "white," but on the "man" and "woman." Flipping the pics only adds to contrasts. And Rel, you've got a great eye. I like all your selections, but probably "When Crickets Cry" the best. Blessings!

  4. Love the covers of Adam (Ted Dekker), Deception (Randy Alcorn), Zora and Nicky (Claudia Mair Burney,, Comes A Horseman and Deadfall (Robert Liparulo), Firestorm (Jeanette Windle), the original covers of This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, and The Oath (Frank Peretti), Shattered Justice (Karen Ball), and The Famous One (yours truly,

  5. (Oh, and I like Dark Star [Creston Mapes], too.)

  6. I like your selections, Mike. I'd forgotten about the recent Lawhead books until Eric mentioned Hood. I actually like Scarlet better. Eye-catching in it's simplicity.

    My one issue is, there almost becomes a "formula" for good covers once one is successful. For instance, I thought the Samson cover you chose had echoes of Dee Gist's Bride Most Begrudging, whose cover has already been imitated more than once if I'm not mistaken. And the Adam cover seems somewhat reminiscent of Deception. Or maybe it's just me.

    Anyway, I think you've shown a nice variety for the most part and all are intriguing as well as attractive.


  7. Nicole, speaking of Peretti... I really like the first cover for Monster. It's pretty plain, red and browns. But the course hair is creepy.

    Becky, I think you're right about formula. In fact, as I was studying Christian Fiction book covers, I couldn't help but notice the recurrence of many images -- lacy historicals, rustic home-on-the-ranges, spunky and splashy chick lits, lotsa longing expressions, and eyes. Many, many eyes. Perhaps this formulaic approach is actually what makes a good cover stand out.

    And, though it's not entirely Christian Fiction,
    the cover for Relief Journal 2.2 looks awesome!


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