Don’t Judge A…

February 7, 2013

Yes, this is one of those posts where I am going to ask something from you.  If you are feeling lazy, stop reading now.

But don’t really stop reading, because I would like to hear what you think.

I am currently taking a class on developing my own cover art for my self-published novels.  And I am finding out there is a lot more to cover art then I ever anticipated.  I would like to share a few of the things I am learning.

First, I just want to say that romance novel covers have come a long way from here:

old

I am not even sure what I am supposed to feel when I see this cover, but I will admit that I want to know who Nurse Saxon’s patient is.

But I digress.  Let me share with you a few things about cover art.  Now understand, that as an indie author, I rely on the brilliant artists who share their work through stock photo sites, and right now, I just want to say thank you!  For real.  I am at your mercy, and I appreciate your very hard work and for making it available to fellow artists like us.

So let me tell you about the cut off their heads method.  (Yes, I laughed out loud, too.)  cutoffheads

Yes, that’s a thing.  Indie authors get stock images, and they don’t always completely match the descriptions of the characters that she has created in the written work.  We can correct the hair and eye color in photo altering software programs or…we can just cut off their heads.  Which is easier.  And Grace Burrowes wonderful cover clearly illustrates this technique brilliantly.

Then, there is the myth about bodice rippers.  I’ve heard this one for a very long time.  The woman’s dress is always falling off of her.  Well, all right, I want to talk about the hero on that cover.  And I don’t think I even need to mention this because if anyone has shopped at your local food market and gone past that awkwardly placed rack somewhere between the batteries and the toilet paper, you all know that romance novels no longer need the bodice ripper, but they do need the bare-chested man.

barechestAnd it was a surprise when I stumbled on a website that has lovely stock images of a lot of shirtless men.  But this cover of Kat Martin’s Deep Blue beautifully portrays the need of the bare-chested man as cover art.

And this is something that begs a question.  Has the beautiful, half-naked woman who has adorned covers for years gone by the way side?  Is it no longer the need for female bare flesh that sells romance novels?  Has that been replaced by the bare-chested man?

I am not sure.  I still see plenty of bodice rippers, but I would almost argue that they are no longer a necessity.  For I also see covers that have nothing to do with the sensual side of things.  A great illustration are the covers of the magical Julia Quinn.

jqSplendid was JQ’s first novel released, and here you will see the original cover on the right, and a newly released cover on the left.  I personally like the one on the left more.  And I like the one on the left more not only because the dude on the original cover is a little wonky looking, but I like it better for purely marketing reasons.  The new cover uses a more easily readable font in a brighter color that contrasts nicely with the background color.  I would notice the cover on the left faster than the one on the right.

But I have saved the best for last.  Not only do I love her stories, but her cover art makes me drool with desire for this level of natural creative ability.

backArtfully implementing one of my favorite cover art moves, Lisa Kleypas hits a home run with the classic bared female back.  Nothing says seduced woman like the drooping neckline of a gown down the heroine’s back.  A ripped bodice says the heroine is weak and succumbed to the stronger male.  A bared back and a sagging dress says I’m wicked and I know it and I am in control of my own body.  Take it if you dare.

Well, done, Lisa.

 

So now it’s your turn.

How do you judge a book by its cover?

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