Friday, June 28, 2013

A good romance cover should...

I have recently discovered that what I like on a cover is not what the majority of readers look for.  What's a writer to do?  I designed my covers and had them done based on what I wanted, what I'm drawn to.  I am starting to think my covers are holding back my sales instead of inspiring them.

I started a discussion thread on The Romance Troupe's Goodreads page titled 'COVERS!'  The consensus there was that readers want bright vibrant colors and a passionate embrace (that's not too sexual) or a half naked man (abs and chest seem to be important - face, not so much).

I am with you on the colors.  Green has always been my favorite but pinks and purples seem to be the industry standard.  

I have always bought a book IN SPITE OF, not because of a sweaty ripped hunk of man.  I prefer covers with women.  These pull me in.  I want to read more about these strong women.  I want to read about women I can relate to and I am a leading lady type, not the wall flower.  On the left, I put one of mine and on the right one from my favorite author.  Both are colorful with strong women.

Rather than the embrace, I like the almost embrace.  This is one of my own favorites.  It shows the story at a glance.  A man (clearly dominant) and small woman (clearly submissive - not looking into his eyes) are coming together under the gaze of a masculine, though not entirely human, being.  

Photo vs. Painting vs. Cartoon
I prefer paintings.  Sites where photography can be purchased are filled with unsexy photos so the good ones are snatched up and used by dozens of authors.  I don't want my cover image to be seen on twenty other books and the same goes for books that I read - I don't want the same image for several books in my library.  I won't give any examples because I don't want to hurt any feelings or call anyone out, but you all know what I am talking about.  The same kiss is on a dozen books.  This is why I steer clear of photography.  The book on the right here is a colorful painting, with sexy men but not photo realistic pecks and abs.

<--Now, cartoons...they work fine for more lighthearted contemporary romance.  HP Mallory has some very successful books that I have read and enjoyed with this cartoon-like theme.  
 Again, I choose these books in spite of their covers rather than because of.  I almost didn't read the Sookie Stackhouse books because the covers are so ridiculous.  They remind me of Napoleon Dynamite's drawing of a liger. 

There is another new cover type that I greatly dislike - the single item on a plain background that only vaguely refers to the story in some symbolic way.  Here are some very successful books that have this.

These repel me.  I have to overcome a great deal to purchase these.  It is very similar to my feelings about the still life type of old.  I have never purchased one of these and don't think I ever will.  It makes me think of my grandmother's romance novels.  It's awesome she read dirty books but her selection options were atrocious.  I am glad I am searching the current shelves and not those of 20 years ago.

What do you like on a romance cover? What makes you pause and think 'Oh,man, I gotta check this one out! Look at the _______ on the cover.'?
  Leave a comment and let me know.

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These are my erotic short stories, all contemporary.  I like that they are alike enough that you can tell they go together at a glance.


Hateful Burden is my only non-romance.  It is a gaslight era horror and I think the cover says it all.


  1. Completely agree with what you said!!! Most of the covers these days make me scratch my head. I want man candy, or some smoking hot girl I can pose like in my bathroom mirror when no one is looking. A picture of a tie or some lovely picturesque lake or home - BLEK!!

  2. Yeah, I'm not so much for scenery. I want the man candy, or the passionate embrace, or the fierce woman on the cover. Hehehe, even I broke down and put a certain someone on one of my series. But I'm ok with that. For me he's playing that character. I won't ever use him on any of my other series. Because in my mind he will always be that certain character. I detest the blah covers of fruit and inanimate objects, they do not inspire my reading appetite at all. I'm a firm believer in the cover sets the mood for the book. So the colors and tones and models need to convey emotion to me, even if the emotion is just sex, or playfulness, or suspense, or action, etc. you get the idea. The picture should hook me.

  3. I'm with you on unique, but I've been told I used bad judgement on my new cover since he's not ripped enough. I didn't want Mr Stock Photo. I wanted unique with a tease. That's what I got.
    I can live with not everyone will love it or understand it. I think sometimes it is okay to break the mold, step out of the box.
    Do something different. It is your book. Your writing. The cover should reflect you. It should sell your book, and I think reader cover choices are as diverse as the writers writing the books.
    I use photographs but two of them are absolutely unique. I know they aren't on any other books out there. (One is Mr Not Ripped LOL) One a photographer did my cover. It happens to be my favorite cover on any of my novels. It's my cousin's gorgeous daughter, who I hope to use again one of these days.
    Covers seem to be a thing of personal taste for the most part. For both the reader and the author. If you really prefer your original art perhaps there's a way to incorporate more of the general tastes into the picture?
    Sometimes the cover draws me in, but I like you, have read many books in spite of their cover which was not my taste preference.

    Kathryn Edgar


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