I have a theory, which I want to run past everyone. I think it connects Dramatica with the graphic arts, in choosing book covers. (Indies out there have to make the call themselves, so I think this helps).
Here's my take:
Covers need to reflect Genre and Story domain.
In Dramatica theory, the overall story is in one of these realms: Situation, Action, Mind, or Manipulation.
The OS throughline determines the book cover background.
The MC throughline determines if the cover needs a character or not.
I wrote this on a forum recently,
"Romance is relationship driven. Needs two people. Their connection closeness in the picture reveals how steamy. Character-driven romance, a step back from romance, has one character and a stance showing the type of issue: angst vs pensive. Plot and environment driven stories (city/politics/apocalyptic) must show the setting. A silhouette means strong character, without suggests multiple POV with a MC there to tie together the conspiracy/problem. Now as for the illustrated covers, cozies or rom comedies, the fun illustration and pastel pinks, blues, greens, MEANS light read. Sweet, fun, low stress."
Here are the options.
OS in Activity (MC in Universe or Mind)
OS in Universe (MC in Activity or Manipulation)
OS in Mind (MC in Activity or Manipulation)
OS in Manipulation (MC in Universe or Mind)
Thinking about the movie-covers/posters we see on Subtext and bookcovers (as mentioned above), I'd say Genre works this way.
OS in Activity: Background with a vehicle or flames
(MC in Universe): Running/fighting character on cover
(MC in Mind): Close up of angst Main character
OS in Universe: Standing silhouette on cover
(MC in Activity) MC in still pose with weapon or alert stance
(MC in Manipulation) MC in silent, pensive pose
OS in Mind : Close up on cover, often black background
(MC in Activity) Symbolic item highlighted
(MC in Manipulation) Frightening item or face
OS in Manipulation: Two people on cover facing or looking opposite
(MC in Universe): One of the characters on cover in action pose
(MC in Mind): Close up of angst MC
I'm not sure I've broken it down perfectly, and a review-search of Subtext covers can confirm/contradict me (I'm not currently active). But my point is the cover is the interplay between the OS and MC, which also uses the Genre items (colors, lightning, spaceships) as visual keys.
Okay, I've thrown my idea out for comment.