What’s In A Cover?


ShameWhat’s in a name? That’s which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.  

So Romeo would were he not Romeo called.

But what about Romeo’s face? What about his body? As a writer, I know it’s all about the words, but hey, I’m a very visual person too.  Take my office, for instance.  All my projects are out on my desk, with the important ones on top.  If it’s in the filing cabinet, then I’m not thinking about it.  Outta sight, outta mind.  I’ve got to see it to get excited about it.

So I really appreciate a great romance book cover–especially a great erotic romance cover.  I love romance covers that make me take a second look.  An excellent cover makes me covet a book that I wouldn’t have desired otherwise.

Good or bad? You decide. The title is just too much.

Good or bad? You decide. The title is just too much.

I tip my hat to the people who design them.  I bet it’s a lot harder than it looks. For instance, those romance covers where it indicates a woman is in a menage with several guys.  I bet this is a cover design specialty.  Clearly you want to indicate that there are several men here and one woman, but you don’t want to make it look like a dog pile.  Then there’s the way in which a few men are touching the woman at the same time.  You don’t want the woman to look like she’s in a relationship with an octopus–some multi-armed, naked torso mutant.

Looking through some recent erotic romance books out in the world, I noticed that I have 5 categories of romance covers I’m drawn to.  Here they are:

1) The arty cover.  So arty, you might call it Ahhhhr-ty.  I notice that black, red, and white cover designs are really in right now.

Juicy cleavage never did a cover wrong.

Juicy cleavage never did a cover wrong.

2) The squidy shameful cover–but one with taste.  Something that indicates a little wiggling is going on inside the book.Owning Wed

3) The “I just got f***ed real good cover.Dark Destiny

4) The “I’m just about to get f***ed real good cover.Revving Her Up

5) And finally: the emotive cover.  Cowboys

Faces are hard.  I don’t want to de-personalize others, but it’s so easy to have an expression in a woman’s mouth that makes me wrinkle my nose.

Almost coming out of her corset distracts you from her face a little.

Almost coming out of her corset distracts you from her face a little.

A certain tension around the lips can read, well, bitchy.  There’s bitchy hot, of course, which is great, but I’m talking bitchy in an annoying way.  I also don’t care for the “I’m a dumb blonde mouth”.  So anyway, my guess is that it’s a lot harder than it looks to get an erotic romance cover with emotions on the face that work.  This one worked for me, but her eye is a little dead–if you’d started at her nose I wouldn’t have complained.

study 2What kind of cover do you like best? I found an entirely different cover for A STUDY IN SHAME. Here it is. They look about the same in terms of age and color palate, so I wonder if one cover was designed for women, and another cover for men.  What do you think?

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9 Comments

  • LizEverly
    February 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I love SAFFRON NIGHTS cover. At first I was kind of Meh about it. But it doesn’t have any people on it–even though it does have the colors that seem to be popular right now. The no-people-on-the-cover thing seems to be popular now. Once again we have 50 shades of Grey to thanks for that. Fun post!

    • madelineiva
      March 1, 2013 at 7:29 am

      It has sexy, drippy chocolate on it — and that’s good enough for me!

  • cmkempe
    February 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I’m no artist but I do find poorly designed covers distressing. I’ve had a few, but I’ve been lucky for the most part that they’ve at least been competent if dull. There’s one cover I won’t put up ANYWHERE because it’s so ugly (under my given name). Yeesh!

    • madelineiva
      March 1, 2013 at 7:30 am

      What can you do, right? I love your Swan Prince cover.

      • cmkempe
        March 1, 2013 at 7:36 am

        The Tirgearr covers are lovely. I am very pleased!

  • Elizabeth Shore
    February 28, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Great post, Madeline! Covers are a huge deal. I remember that All About Romance used to have this contest every year in which they sought out the worst covers and skewered them mightily. There were some pretty horrendous covers out there, although I felt bad for the authors who often aren’t given much (if any) say on what cover the publisher comes out with.

    • madelineiva
      March 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Yeah, you’re right. But there are so many awesome covers too — I wanted to cheer on those folks who are doing it really well. I drool over the Avon Red covers.

  • barbaraelsborg
    March 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Just seen this in my google alerts and you have one of my favorite covers up there! Scott Carpenter did Cowboys Down and I just love it. Some of mine are really horrible so when an artist gets it right – I could cry! it is difficult I know to marry the imagination of a writer and an artist – so I do appreciate all their hard work but sometimes I wonder what they were thinking.

    • madelineiva
      March 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Yes! I think it’s just a lot harder than it looks.

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