What do we think of PNR covers with girls in dresses?

You can't walk into a bookshop without seeing a PNR book featuring a girl in a dress on the cover. I'm writing an article about it and I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Here are a few questions I'd love to hear your answers on. Even if you just pick one.


Do you think this type of cover is limiting?

Is it overdone?

What do you think it says about YA writing in general?

Is it good or bad for the YA PNR / PNR genre?

Is it too far to featuregirls in dresses on the cover when we know for a fact the character never wears a dress?

Do you love them for their beauty?

Do you hate them for their predictability?

Do you think publishers feel that YA readers will only respond to the girl in the dress cover?


Don't get me wrong, I love this type of cover, but I have read a few books and not once does the female lead appear in a dress while watlzting through the woods.


Responses welcome from writers, editors, cover artists, publishers.






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My opinion is people love cliché because it's easier for both reader, author and publisher. It's a short-cut which is handy. But one I ultimately hate for it's laziness.

I make pre-made covers. I sell a lot of these. If you want any more information or opinion give me a shout.

Thanks very much for this feedback. I'd be interested to know some of the titles of the covers you've sold if you're able to name two or three authors/books.

I'm also starting to get tired of the cover. To the point where I have actually written a PNR and I will be putting on my cover request - no girl in a dress.

Many thanks


One of my biggest complaints about the publishing industry is that almost all the cover look alike.  I wrote a blog post about it on my website last year (which wasn't that long ago) http://www.plagueofvampires.com/2012/10/our-book-cover/

I would agree with Toby that on the publishers side it comes down to laziness.  Personally my wife and I worked very hard with our artists to come up with a look that was very different.

Here is one of the best covers that I have seen in some time. It's certainly no PNR book, but it is a great read. That is if you like serious fiction. You can read a review of it on my page.

Thanks for this feedback. And good on you for designing an appropriate book cover. It doesn't look YA at all.




Stupid question: Does PNR stand for Paranormal Romance? And if so, are you talking only about YA paranormal romance or adult paranormal romance?

I think it's stupid to put a picture of a girl in a dress on the cover of a book if she never wears a dress in the story. I don't get it. 

I write adult paranormal romance (urban fantasy would also work) and just got my cover art in this weekend -- reveal coming tomorrow. I will say that on the cover is a girl -- the main character -- but when I worked with the artist I told him what she looked like and gave him a link to an outfit she might actually wear, based on how I described her. It's the only thing that made sense to me. It's hard enough to come up with a good cover for a book when so much of what happens takes place inside the heroine's head.  Why would I make it harder by depicting an irrelevant outward appearance? 

Having said that, I don't read much YA romance so haven't seen the types of covers you're talking about. I'll take your word that it's a trend, and if so, it seems ridiculous. I wonder what they're going for. Maybe you could try contacting one of the authors to find out? (If I were writing an article, I'd definitely give that a try, at least.)

Hi Christine

It's not a stupid question. I didn't know what PNR stood for either till I saw it somewhere and I thought, hey they invented an acronym I knew nothing about. Did you know there's also a new genre called New Adult - the period after young adult? 


Yes, the covers I'm referring to are YA paranormal romance. I contacted a best selling author and I feel lucky to have gotten a response for my article.


I hope you like your cover. And good luck with the book. When can we see the cover???







Yes, I've heard of new adult -- that's what I would call my series, actually! :)

I'm glad you got a response. I'll be curious to read the details when your article comes out.

Cover is up on my website, but I'll post it for you right here. (I'm going to be soliciting reviews very soon...just waiting for my publisher to tell me the ARCs are ready.)

I find it very interesting that while YA romance covers feature the girls in dresses, the YA urban fantasy covers feature the girls in pants. I also find it interesting that the adult romance covers don't usually feature a woman in a dress (she's usually half naked or in pants), while the urban fantasy covers continue with the women in pants.

I wonder if the portrayal of dresses comes from the trend toward mandating school uniforms, even in public schools, which encourages girls to wear skirts and/or dresses.

What most people don't understand is the cover is there to sell the book and the eye buys. The cover isn't meant to reflect the characters except in the loosest fashion, nor is meant to reflect a certain scene or feeling of the book. It needs only to convey the genre/sub-genre and feature the authors' names prominently.

Hope this helps.

Good point. Now that you mention it, I think I have seen lots of YA urgan fantasy in pants.


Thank you for you feedback on what the cover is designed to do. I appreciate it. My research has me leaning towards the view that anything which encourages a young adults to read is a good thing because if this target group moves away from reading, we might lose future readers forever.


Best regards


I very much dislike this trend. When browsing books, I tend to skip right over these, assuming that the story will be heavy romance, light everything else and that the entire design is a manipulation to make me see the main character as some sort of ethereally beautiful damsel in distress. That is the last thing I want to read about. Unless the dress is somehow relevant to the plot (hopefully in terms of being an evil possessed dress that strangles the beautiful-and-irresistible-though-she-doesn't-know-it character) than I don't want to see it. Bleh. 

Thanks for your views. I don't particularly like the damsel in distress depiction, especially when the character shows strength. I appreciate the comments.


Best regards



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