The good, the bad and the ugly…romance cover

I have a cover reveal organised by the fantabulous Lola from http://www.lolasblogtours.net, and following a post https://slashingpax.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/i-love-weaklings from the equally fantabulous Ingela,  I thought I’d share my view on covers, mainly a certain type of cover. This one:

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The hunky bare chested male, by himself.

In my genre, this type of cover is rife. You can’t browse the modern romance section without ending on the picture of a ripped, sometimes tattooed chest and a six pack. The pose is usually sexy, the lighting slightly porny, and the background blurry.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like ogling on handsome men as much as the next girl (mwhahaha!), but the rampant use of yet another taut stomach’s close up is starting to bore me to tears.  I know I may be wrong, but to me, it indicates a lack of imagination from the author/publisher who chooses this type of cover, which doesn’t bode well for their plot.

It’s like the romantic interest wasn’t very compelling, and not worthy to be shown. I know that romance readers are mostly women, so it explains the abused broad chested male cover. Yet I’m not sure if those women are genuinely swooning at every single one, or if the publishers think they do. I am not going to discard a book for such a cover, but it loses some brownie points from the start, and the blurb will have to be twice as appealing.

Give me an original cover. One where both the protagonists show up. After all, it takes two to make a romantic couple. Fully dressed, half dressed, I don’t care. Don’t put them in a corny pose circa 1980’s Harlequin with flowing hair and open shirt. Show me the mood of the book through colour, light and facial expressions, because a picture is worth a thousand words and it will pick my curiosity.

Or don’t show the characters at all, because it pushes the sub-genre to the surface and I can let my imagination flow.

What’s your favourite style of cover?

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4 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the ugly…romance cover

  1. 😀 “genuinely swooning at every one” – well put! I don’t think they do. I think it’s like washing powder. You need a small white box with red text on it to know that it’s washing powder, so you can grab it when you’re in a hurry without stopping to think. For those who read A LOT, it may simply save time.

    I like Jordan Castillo Price’s covers, especially the Mnevermind ones. They tell me something about the mood of the book, and the men look totally normal and believable, and there’s some texture to tease the eye.

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  2. I never would have compared a book to washing powder lol.
    I liked the covers on the Mnevermind, the first volume in particular, the way the guy puts his hands up like that won me on the spot.
    I also love Simone St James’ covers. She writes historical/paranormal romance, but all her covers feature landscape and a woman seen from the back. They are simple, eerie and classy. Like her stories lol.

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  3. I think for covers it’s not only important to have a great looking cover, but also one that shows the reader what to expect. And for romance covers a naked or half naked man on the cover where you see his chest is an easy way to convey it’s a romance book and often hints there is some sex involved. And while they might not be be very original they do convey where the book is about to the reader and I think that’s important too.

    Having said that I am not really a fan of those covers either, but I’ve seen enough conversations online to know quite some people do like seeing those chested covers. I will still buy books with those covers as long as the blurb can win me over, but I won’t pick it up simply for the cover, while there are definitely covers out there pretty enough to make me almost willing to overlook the blurb just because the cover is so pretty it already sells me on the book.

    On the topic of not showing the characters, I think for character driven books and especially romance novels it is important to show the characters on the cover in some way, whether that’s a close up, a sexy pose, a silhouette etc. As having a character on the cover tells the reader that it’s about the characters and relationships. I remember an author who writes character focused fantasy books who recently changed her covers and added characters to them as they didn’t sell as well without them. And I think that’s because of expectations. When you see only a landscape on a cover you expect the more high type of fantasy with epic quests, while if you add a character it suddenly bring that aspect into focus more.

    It’s also very much dependent on the genre, with cozy mysteries for example you rarely see characters on the cover even while you can expect a certain focus on characters, but for those covers it’s the expectation to have a cutesy cartoonish style and usually no characters.

    And I think your books have great covers, they do a nice job of letting the reader know what to expect and what the genre is, but they are a bit more original as well. And they look pretty. And I love covers that stay consistent throughout the series in style like you do with yours.
    And I guess that’s long enough for a comment, sorry for rambling. Covers are such an interesting topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree that covers are the first indication of a genre, a clue given long before people read the blurb. What I find interesting though (correct me if I’m wrong) is that a half naked male can point to either romance or erotica, while a semi naked woman always points to erotica. *grins*

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