I wrote a controversial post some time ago regarding young adult book covers that have been announced for 2012 called All the White Girls, where I suggested YA authors need to get their shit together and start writing books about something other than white chicks in flowing dresses. I found it immensely disturbing that not a single book on the Top 25 YA Books of 2012 featured a cover photo of anyone besides a white girl.
A bunch of commenters suggested the problem lies with publishers and not authors, as cover designers in YA are rarely faithful to the look, ethnicity, race, or whatever of the book’s protagonist for which they are designing.
Today I discovered this post by YA author Kate Hart via my twitter peep E.C. Meyers. Kate breaks down over 600 YA covers from 2011, scientifically, in a number of fascinating and revealing ways, including how often you might find a headless, dead, or back-shot model on a YA cover.
Kate doesn’t stop at just analyzing model poses and cover color distribution (which is, in itself, quite telling of the YA cover trend). She addresses another major concern of mine regarding diversity in young adult literature: gender distribution. The men that are featured on YA book covers tend to be headless or shown from the back–which, of course, is not limited to male models, but nonetheless. Kate even does a brief analysis of self-pubbed and indie book covers in the YA category for comparison, and makes a surprising discovery: self-pubbed and indie books are even less diverse than those published by major houses.
I was surprised by that last revelation, and then wondered why I found it surprising. I’ve read a number of agent “wish lists” lately calling for multi-racial or ethnic perspectives, so perhaps that is a clue.
Kate’s analysis is disturbing to say the least, but also educational. These moments are the ones that will, hopefully, push YA authors to be more diverse in their topics. Be sure to read the full post here: Uncovering YA Covers: 2011