The Romance Cover Conundrum

An article on the development of covers for romance novels was published last month on the Publisher’s Weekly blog. This article briefly recaps the history of romance novel covers, not forgetting the days of Fabio. However, what is most interesting about this article is the discussion of the covers which are appearing on books published by independent authors. Many of them are no longer willing to settle for a stock photo with some text slapped over it. Indie author are getting more creative with their covers, partly to make them stand out, but also, partly because they can. Without the domination of a big publishing house art department, an independent author is free to exercise their own creativity on their covers.

However, romance authors with books that will be releasing this year may be most interested in the last part of this article. A best-selling author who has had a look at the current best-seller lists speculates on the types of book covers which will sell romance novels in 2015. Apparently, the standard naked male torso will be with us for the foreseeable future. But there are other unexpected images which might also appear on romance covers over the course of the coming year.

Personally, the cover of a romance novel has a big influence on whether or not I decide to read the book. How about you?


11 thoughts on “The Romance Cover Conundrum

  1. Definitely, if I’m paying full price for it. I picked up some Regencies in a charity shop for mum, Mills and Boon [Harlequin] some of which had very dodgy covers. For different reasons, I hasten to add; two had the same stock picture of a half-cut male about to debauch a blowsy looking female, neither of which covers had anything to do with the contents; and of the rest, 3 of them had the gentlemen attired in incorrect costume for the period, and one regency lady in a gown of the 1870s. The content was, however, far superior to the covers, and I would buy those authors again [and have].

    And this is why I like to have full control of my own covers. And am available for hire too…

    • REALLY!!! Some of those covers are so embarrassing that one does not want to be seen in public with them. More and more, some romance covers border on the pornographic. I have a couple of friends to have purchased or made cloth book covers for use on such books while they are commuting to and from work, not so much to protect the book as to hide those images from the prying eyes of their fellow commuters.

      I have to confess that I have ignored more than one Regency novel because the cover featured either clothing or scenes from a later period. I assumed they were Victorian-era stories and never gave them a second look. On the clothing front, one of my pet peeves is the man’s shirt which opens all the way down the front. So very 20th century!!! I also ignored another Regency book which featured Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the cover. How hard would it have been to have checked the date on that structure? Fellow Regency readers later clued me in on some of these stories, so, in the end, I did read them. But, as you say, it is very clear to me that most authors have very little input into their covers. I am a case in point, sadly! (Live and learn!)

      After reading that Publisher’s Weekly article, it is clear to me that it is hard to find good cover artists, especially for indie authors. Please post a link here for those who would like to find out more about your cover services.



  2. The shirt thing irritates me, too, especially men in the act of undoing them; also lace ruffles in the Regency. I can take a man with cuffs showing after 1800, but really, it’s not right.

  3. …. though i have to say on the cover I did for a teenage dystopian SF future, I’ve had comments that the 2 scared looking girls must be dominatrices because they are in black leather. I don’t understand that one.

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