Cover art

So I’m working on finding a cover for a short story, Light and the Darkness, which I’m going to contribute to a new site, Yellow Silk Designs. I’ve discovered that I must go against the crowd in how covers affect me.

The covers of my e-books at Republica Press, and indeed most of the books there, do not feature your usual romance novel covers. You won’t find the rogue/pirate/duke/CEO with the six-pack abs pressing the bosomy wench/princess/CEO to his body. I think this is fine, and a good change of pace. Of course I’m not the only one — check out Nora Roberts under that name or JD Robb, Luann Rice and others. You’ll find scenes, perhaps a picture of a house on a hill or shore, something like that.

On the other hand, there are plenty of covers like this one. Or this one.

The thing is, I’ve found that in general, covers are not what draw me to a book. Now, I’m probably going against the current on that one; I’m not much of a shopper, for books, clothes or anything else. I love to browse as much as the next person, but I am likely going to be intrigued by the title, and/or the author’s name. The cover picture is almost beside the point, for me. Part of that is because there are so many similar ones. Shirtless man and (about-to-be) shirtless woman. Man looking longingly into woman’s eyes. Woman looking longingly into man’s eyes. Man embracing woman from behind, with her gaze down to the side.

This is done because it works, because it sells. I get that. So I’m trying to work with this, and look at some samples, but I can’t tell you how many of them make me roll my eyes and move on to the next. In fact, the one sample I’ve found so far that I like has two people facing each other across a distance, but the figures are hazy and the faces can’t be seen. Which is probably why I like it.

I think I must digress because I have to say that I’ve found I’m not fond of people pictures. I mean, I’ve seen portraits by the great masters and they’re lovely. However, in my home, I’d rather have a picture of a seascape, a landscape, a building. In the two pictures we have that do include people, the people are small, faceless figures. I can’t say why this is, but I’m sure it figures into why I prefer similar pictures on my covers.

So then I have to wonder why these sell so well. Do people really pay so much attention to the cover art? I’m betting yes, and that I’m the exception to the rule. But still, would something different be so bad? Would it turn someone off from a romance if they don’t see a body or two?

Do I think this is any kind of sell out, that I’d go for a “marketable” picture? No, I really don’t. Some might, but honestly, it’s not that important to me. If this is what the site owner thinks will sell, I’m willing to go along with it. Because I hope that what the reader remembers is the story and not the picture.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by LL on August 3, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I think shoppers are looking for a signal that notifies them that there will be sex stuff in the book. That cliche cover scene is a well-recognized signal, probably because that recognition has been cultivated in us.


  2. You’re most likely right, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to do something different. 🙂


  3. I think I read somewhere on the Smart Bitches site that the level of undress of the couple on the cover of a romance novel indicates to the customers the steamier the sex scenes within. In the world of eBooks, research has shown that it’s the reputation of the author, then the book blurb and finally the cover that influences readers. Of course, I can’t remember where I read that research. I’ll send a link if it comes to me.


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