Concerning Covers

At the risk of causing serious offence I have to say I’m not a fan of romance book covers. Something about the cheese factor just makes me shudder. I wonder if the industry is well served by the standard cover. Would more people be interested in reading our books if they didn’t flush with embarrassment at being caught with one in their hands. Obviously not such an issue in today’s e-reader world, but still.

My biggest objection is what the covers say about our work? That the sex is what it’s all about. Not the story, the world, the characters. As an author I put far more energy and thought into who my characters are, the worlds they live in and the structure of the plot than I do in the erotic scenes. I want my covers to reflect this.

Maybe this isn’t such an issue for the higher heat levels of erotic writing, but even then I’m not sure. Even the most extreme and raunchy work has to have strong character development and world building, good dialogue and a solid plot.

As a reader I will drop a book if the plot isn’t exciting, the character’s are flat or unrealistic. It doesn’t matter how hot the sex is, if the rest of it falls short I lose interest real fast.

I’m aware that the industry standard cover identifies the genre and also that many people love them, but personally I’m not so keen. In fact I have to work to not be put off. Also we have to battle so hard against the stereotyping of our genre as it is. Romance and erotic work is degenerated as a worthless form of literature, suitable only for bored and unintelligent housewives. Look at the way Shades of Gray has been dubbed mommy porn, rather than a study on alternative lifestyles. Interesting too, that romance is the highest selling genre on the planet. Our work is valuable and I’d love my covers to say that. To let the world know that my work is as valid as a crime author, a contemporary author, or God damn it, a literary author.


So, these are two covers from the same book by the inspiring Nalini Singh. Sorry about the poor photo quality, I had trouble finding good versions of cover one. Anyway I know which book I’d be more likely to pick up. The second cover, although more subtle, still lets me know clearly what genre her writing is and what to expect.

Okay, there’s my rant done with. I’m interested to hear what you think. Please leave comments and let me know.

AND… really big sorry if I offended you, but this is my forum to express myself.

3 thoughts on “Concerning Covers

  1. Kastil says:

    I like the cover on the right. The eyes of the character on it are intense. I have to agree, too, that higher heat levels ‘demand’ a sex-driven cover. I write regular romance under a different name and, though I do include a soft sex scene in a few, the covers do not show barely clothed charatcers. In fact, one of them doesn’t have a human in sight. The cover does symbolize the characters involved IMO and that’s importnat as well.

  2. Yep. Just look at FSoG. A necktie.

  3. Some of the covers are really unsuitable, IMHO. Erotic romance has a story to it. If not, then it’s just porn. So why do the covers suggest pornographic content? Because sex sells. We don’t have to like it, but there it is.

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