Why My Book Cover Doesn’t Look Dystopian

Kayti Nika Raet

People judge books by their covers. I’ve talked about that in a previous post on my blog and even made a list of my favorite covers. But what I DIDN’T talk about, or rather discussed very briefly, was diversity in book covers, and not cover diversity as “why all YA book covers feature girls with their heads chopped off?” but as a reflection of the character between the pages, as well as the world around us.

In my aforementioned blog post, I discussed Liar, an awesome book by Justine Larbalestier, featuring a multiracial girl who may or may not be a werewolf. The original cover, though gorgeous, featured a girl who was neither African-American nor biracial. Luckily, there was enough of an uproar about the disparity that things were soon fixed.


Unfortunately, that kind of thing is pretty common. Either from cover artists receiving a description of the book that may not mention some important physical aspects about a character, to marketing executives believing that certain book covers sell better than others (thus the plethora of headless girls, or girls in dresses).

As an indie author, you’re in full creative control, and if you’re an indie author who’s character doesn’t fit the mainstream norm (whether that means they are a person of color, LGBTQ, disabled, religious/agnostic/atheist, or in some way “other”) then you’re faced with a complex decision.

In Niko, my main character is black. I don’t come out and say it explicitly because, well, it IS set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic landscape and I figured racial categories aren’t what they used to be.

So when it came time to talk with my lovely cover artist (and sister) Hana Kura I had to make a decision.


You may note that my cover doesn’t look very dystopian. It certainly pops out (look away from the boobs, please) but it doesn’t scream this a book with a landscape filled with flesh eating monsters, acid rain, and people interested in genetic modification, plus a dash of romance and sexy sexiness. On average, dystopian covers are non-representative and usually feature a symbol of some sort over a gritty background…


Even though I really really wanted to go with that kind of style, in the end I decided to feature Niko in all her baseball wielding glory for one simple reason: it’s for the girl browsing online (eventually, we will reach the print book stage…) scrolling through her favorite genre, who catches sight of the cover and stops, because it looks like she will be able to find herself in the pages. And hopefully, she will.


Please consider assisting our efforts to diversify everyone’s bookshelf by donating to We Need Diverse Books fundraising campaign by clicking —> HERE – it’s vital, folks.




Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Kayti Nika Raet moved down South when she was 11 where she was bit by the writing bug as well as other less friendly insects. She the author of the YA dystopia, Niko, Harm, and Outsider as well as the short stories Slither and Tape the Devil’s Mouth . She’s also a reviewer for Readers’ Favorite and has her own Youtube Channel Kayti Edition. Her procrastination aids are reading, K-pop, and photography. Kayti lives in Milledgeville, Georgia.

If you want to stalk Kayti, try these spots:








7 thoughts on “I #SupportWNDB – The Series: WHY MY BOOK COVER DOESN’T LOOK DYSTOPIAN

  1. I’m new to your blog, but has Nika been released or is it a WIP? Your description of flesh eating monsters intrigues me. (Okay I must admit, it took me a few to look away from the um boobs, but then I noticed the creepy hands, very cool).

    • Thanks for checking my blog and welcome. I love to curse, pimp my friends’ books, pimp my own books, and throw around a little snark here and there.

      So yeah, Niko is released and it’s awesome. Search my blog for Kayti’s name and you’ll see I reviewed all three books she’s released so far in the series, which, in case you’re interested, is called The Outsider Chronicles.

      Oh! And yeah, those are some seriously hot boobs. I can’t blame you for getting distracted – they certainly catch my attention every time.


  2. Pingback: In Which I Support Diverse Books | KNRWrites

  3. Thanks for a truthful and insightful post. I support diverse books too. Books are a reflection of real life. Thus, if has to show real life. So often it doesn’t. Time to break the trends and be realistic. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing! I wholeheartedly agree with you.
    S.J. Francis

    • Hi, S.J! Glad you enjoyed my post! I totally believe in breaking trends and trying out new paths. It keeps things fresh and interesting, and shows us ways of thinking we might not have encountered before.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s