About Book Covers, My Shiny New Cover and Thoughts On…

My very first official cover…
is in and it’s so pretty and purpley! As it should be, considering the title and the story. I have to say that the folks over at Torquere did a lovely job and I’m so pleased with it!

Finding the right stock photos, especially for a story set in the 1930s is not easy. Believe me, I’ve searched through hundreds! It gets even harder when you’re trying to find a fella who somewhat resembles the character you’ve got in your head. In this case, Remi, my smexy Englishman.

The process…
When I was asked what kind of cover I wanted, only one thing filled my head: ????? Terribly naive, I know, but as a newly published author, I spend most of my time with my head immersed in my characters’ worlds. I had no idea what the production process of a book entailed, only that it was most likely quite a lot. Boy, is that an understatement!

Suddenly, I had to think about everything. Formats, Marketing, Mood, Tone, Time Period, Symbols, Character, Color, Settings, Aesthetics, and more. Did I go with the kind of covers I liked? Did I go with man nakedness? Somewhere in the middle? Did I want a photo cover? Yes. Animated? No. Did I want to see the model’s face? Not in this case. For some covers, it works. Personally, I prefer to use my imagination to ‘see’ my characters, and I know many readers do too. Though, I’m not opposed to it if I see the right model and image that makes me go ‘that’s him!’ while releasing a sigh and my eyes get that glazed, starry look in them. Did I want both fellas on the cover or just one? This time I decided on one. But which one? Remi or Hawk? Well, seeing as the whole caper sort of starts because of Remi, I went with Remi.

I had to try and find an image that could capture the mood of my story, that felt ‘right’. I had to offer the art department as much info as possible, and I tell you, I inundated those poor folks with information, links, photos, and descriptions, the whole while asking myself if it was too much or too little.

My thoughts…
During my search, I went through hundreds of images, typed in scores of keywords. It was tough. I knew that no matter what I chose, somewhere, someone wouldn’t agree, and you know what? That’s okay. What I enjoy, someone else may not. When it comes to book covers, in m/m just as in m/f, there will always be a difference if opinion. Though with the m/m genre growing as it is, the question of what makes a great book cover is often on peoples’ lips. Personally, I’m not into the naked, ‘man boob’ covers. Now, that’s not to say they’re not hot, or that it turns me off the book. Sex sells, everyone knows that, even those who’d never admit it. Then again, I’m one of those gals who thinks a sneak peak is sexier than the full monty. I KNOW what’s under that towel, and the fact that I know it’s there but can’t see, is way hotter–and brings all sorts of things to the imagination– than him just laying it all out there. But that’s just me ;)   

The Magpie effect…
I’m an artist and a very visual person. I’m also like a magpie. I get attracted to shiny, pretty things. Certain covers will attract my attention, and get me to read the blurb. I admit that I’ve often bought a book solely for its cover, because I see book covers not only as a marketing tool, but a work of art, much like the stories themselves. If it’s an author I know and love, I’d probably be looking them up anyway, so the cover really is a second thought. 

Remembering Fabio…
I’ve been reading romance since I can remember. I LOVE romance books, especially historical romance (no surprise there). BUT–here’s where I run the risk of possibly getting strangled with someone’s corset laces–I hated a lot of the covers to the point where some really put me off. Remember all those books with Fabio on the front? I’m certain they’re well-beloved to some people, but it’s safe to say, I’m not one of those people. Let’s face it. When you’re in your teens, awkward, and reading romance, your self confidence is pretty shaky as it is without sitting out in the open with a book showing a half naked Fabio sporting long, windswept hair standing on some cliff top with a buxom lady at his feet grasping his skin-tight leggings.

M/M Romance covers and the great debate…
Now, I’m not embarrassed about the fact that I read romance. I know the stigma it still carries for some. I’m proud to say I read AND write it. If it’s a great book with a great premise, the cover won’t turn me away. Of course, I’m all grown up now, so Fabio no longer intimidates me. In the romance genre, we still find plenty of ladies clinging onto their muscular males, but what of M/M Romance?

I know there’s the question of what readers want out of their M/M Romance, as well as what sells. Erotica versus Sweet Romance? That’s a conversation for another day. The fact is, that for some authors, their titles containing covers with more nakedness sell somewhat more than their titles without. So does the nakedness prevail or…? I know in the past year alone, I’ve seen a growth in the artwork of many new titles, many incredibly stunning. So what’s the future of the m/m romance book cover? What do you like to see? What turns you off? Does it really make a difference to you? What’s your take on the debate? What do you believe should or shouldn’t be on there? It’s okay, you can tell me… ;)

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2 Comments

  1. First of all, I love that cover. There’s a super sense of movement and menace in it. He looks as though he’s about to run. And he’s dressed appropriately too. Very enticing.

    I wonder how many of the naked torsos are because it’s hard to find photos of men in suitable period get up. In any case, I’m not a fan of them. They are so common that my eye tends to skip over them and fix on the more unusual designs. Yours is very eyecatching.

    I too had my first book cover this week after a debate with the editor about the naked manboob question. The first cover was mostly torsos and, pretty as they were, didn’t indicate much about the book other than it involved men. My point was that the book looked like contemporary erotica whereas it’s historical without much sexual content. Readers expecting the one wuld be disappointed to get the other. I’m pleased that, while present in the second version, the torsos are now much less obvious with other design elements taking the fore. In other words it’s the type of cover that would catch MY eye – whether that’s a good thing or not I have no idea.

    Fabio – he made me laugh, but then I never liked het romance. All that swooning!

    • Hi Elin, thanks for commenting! I wondered that, too, about the stock photography for historical m/m. I know to find this image, I had to scroll through endless ‘handsome man in business suit’ photos, as that specification was the closest I could find anything resembling the period. And a three-piece suit? Pfff. Also wearing a felt hat? Double-pfff. I typed in every word imaginable that I could associate with detective, and all I got was guys in Sherlock Holmes type garb holding the biggest magnifying glasses I’d ever seen! Lol.

      With some covers, the half nakedness/torso images work–like with Ava March’s books. She writes Regency Erotica, so I feel her covers give just the right feel of the period and the content, and some of the covers use images with men dressed in Regency attire. They go perfectly well together. While there is sex in my book, it’s not an erotica book, and I’m a very, very strong believer in letting the reader know what they’re getting.

      I’m glad you got your book cover more how you wanted it. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, as I know many authors and readers have been discussing this very thing within the genre. Good luck with your book!

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