Four Naked Chests and a Pickup: That Oughta Cover It

The other day I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the cover of my romantic suspense, Head On took grand prize in its category of the Houston Bay Area Romance Writers' 3rd Annual Judge a Book by Its Cover competition. (The Salt Maiden's cover came in second on the same category.)

I was delighted since I think Dorchester Publisher did a fabulous job with both covers. I have to admit pride figured into it as well since both pieces of art were based on my suggestions (something that doesn't happen all that often in publishing, so it's much appreciated), and both are far removed for the type of cover art normally found on the romance aisle. My books, however, are meant to be cross-marketed to both romance readers and those who enjoy mystery/suspense, most of whom would be horrified to find a bare-naked chest on their book covers. It's not that I have anything against half-nekkid guys (except for the pale, flabby, shirtless suburbanites I occasionally encounter mowing lawns in the neighborhood), but I have to admit, I'm not crazy about the steamy covers, either. I don't want to have to think about what book I can carry to the doctor's office or read in front of kids, nor do I wish to have to put a "plain brown wrapper" type disguise on my reading material.

But clearly, lots of women love that sort of thing. If you follow the link above, you'll see what I mean. Yep. Four gorgeously-naked chests and a pickup (with my favorite big, black spider crawling into second place.)

In other countries, tastes are different. Which is why, just for fun, I've also posted the eye-poppingly red Polish cover of Head On. Quite a different look, isn't it?

So what types of covers do you prefer on the books you purchase? Which covers entice you to pick up a book an a writer you don't know? If you're an author, what type do you like or envision for your own work?


Joni Rodgers said…
Congrats on the great((must...resist...pun...agh!)) coverage!

The buzz on this book just keeps getting better.
Thanks, Joni!
Suzan Harden said…
Congratulations on the JABBIC, Colleen!

I'd prefer if the cover reflected the atmosphere of the writing, which I like Dorchester has done with yours.

Some times though I think the publisher's art department throws out what they THINK makes a woman buy a book. I know, I passed up Sherrilyn Kenyon's Fantasy Lover when it was first out because the cover turned me off. It was extremely red with (you guessed it) a half nekkid guy on the cover. And I missed out on a terrific book! The new cover has has dark blues and black with a guy dressed in a black t-shirt leaning against a New Orleans Greek revival-style mausoleum. Much more reflective of Sherrilyn's writing style!

As for my books (*sigh*), maybe vampire chocolate Easter bunnies?
LOL on the vampire bunnies, Suzan.

Thanks for the congrats - and I agree with you that it's best for publishers to choose packaging that's reflective of the book's tone and contents. Readers hate feeling mislead and manipulated. People looking for a superhot read are disappointed if their clinch-cover book is tepid, and people who prefer squeaky clean won't appreciate a spicy surprise.

Speaking of packaging, I was enticed by the redesign of Phillipa Gregory's THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL. The stuffy, oh-so-historic English original title turned me off, but the tastefully-sexy movie tie-in (call me shallow, but it was the movie trailer that caught my interest) cover reeled me in. And I'm so glad. I'm absolutely looooving this book - best thing I've read in ages. It's a real pageturner and smart, too.
Suzan Harden said…
EEK! I can't believe how many typos I left in my post!

I chalk it up to a seven-hour shift at Hallmark dealing with desperate lovers.

And your point about The Other Boleyn Girl covers goes to show different covers mean different things to different people. I loved the original cover. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed the movie people don't slaughter the book.
TJ Bennett said…
I'm no fan of the clinch cover (they are almost never done right), but yes, I admit a good-looking man on the front of a cover has caught my eye a time or two. The Blaze cover that won for the contemporary category would convince me to buy it (what is it about a military man in--and out--of uniform?), and Kim Lenox's cover for her new Victorian book makes me want to crawl to the bookstore to find it, but most of the time I don't like the book covers where the guy looks like he's going about his daily business but forgot to put on his shirt. You in a conference room--oops, NO SHIRT. Man on a horse--NO SHIRT. Man walking into a ballroom--NO SHIRT. LOL! Kim's is good, however, because it looks like the guy got caught in a hellacious wind storm that just happened to rip his buttons off his shirt to reveal...sigh. I think I'll go back to her website and remind myself...

I love your covers, and frankly, I love my own. I think if the cover sells the book, no matter what, it is the right cover.


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