Monday, June 23, 2008

How far is too far?

Cover art. That’s what I want to talk about. We’ve all seen the horrible ones, we’ve all seen the WOW ones, but I want to talk about sexy and not so sexy covers.
Some publishers have been accused of taking it too far, leaving nothing to the imagination. I guess for me I like the sexier covers, but then I’m an erotic romance author, so that’s to be expected. Still, not everyone feels the same. Some examples of covers to spark off our discussion:

The cartoony cover. Now this seems like a fun story to me. So if I buy it, I don’t want to be shocked by smokin’ hot love scenes. LOL

The classic cover. This one tells very little about the story. It’s nice, not showy, you can take it to church and feel perfectly comfortable.

The dark cover. These are usually paranormal stories. There’s always some brooding hero, maybe a cemetery, cliffs, or a wolf in the background. We can all pick out a paranormal book a mile away, am I right?

The sexy cover. Now we’re getting hot, but still it’s not ‘hide it in a paper back’ hot. It’s what I think of as classy sexy.

Then there’s the racy cover. There’s a clear message here. Nekkid body parts! If you pick up this book, expect to need ice water, am I right?! LOL I think these covers are just as necessary as any of the covers I mentioned above.

Now, you tell me. What covers do you prefer and why? Does the racy cover turn you off? And just because we’re Wicked Writers here, doesn’t mean we all expect you to agree with us. We want...actually that’s not true. We NEED your opinion. The reader is the most important voice! We value what you have to say!


Sophia Danu said...

Great blog Anne! I enjoyed all of the covers that you presented. I believe that the cover should fit the story and if so then it is perfect (not too far or too cute or too sexy). I like to see a cute cover for a comedic romance or a naked cover for an erotic romance. Personally I don't think there is a "too far" to go on covers, but I do respect others opinion on the issue if they believe so.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I like sexy cover, racy covers, or even the one of Nora's you posted. I'm not real big on cartoony covers BUT if also believe the story should fit the cover just like Sophia said. My personal tastes just lean toward the others.

Great post!

Regina Carlysle said...

Great minds must think alike, darlin'. lol. Snicker. I'm doing a similar take on the cover issue at my Regina Carlysle blog today!!! That's tooooo funny!

I would be completely PISSED if I bought the super racy cover and got a sweet story. So yeah, the cover should fit the story. Personally, I find "landscape" covers way boring and I doubt I'd even pick up one of those unless I was familiar with the author. I like the Cartoon covers because that tells me right away I'm going to get a laugh and I'm ALL about THAT.

I'm trying to figure out if stories sell better with a super hot cover if the writer is selling erotica. Hm. Interesting.

Cindy said...

Hey Anne, I have to say that I agree with you 100% I want the cover to tell me whats inside the book,I hate getting a really hot cover & the story is not really hot,I feel like that is misleading.
And to be honest I think hot covers are very appealing.

Anne Rainey said...

Sophia--I feel the same way. I don't mind the racy covers one bit. In fact I'm requesting RACY for my upcoming story "Burn". LOL

Kelley--I tend to walk right past cartoony covers. They generally do nothing for me.

Regina--I thought I was the only one who hated those 'landscape' covers. Tells me nothing about the story and in fact makes me think of my grandma's romance. lol

Cindy--Don't you hate when you buy a book with a racy cover, then the story is tame? Man that bugs me. I always feel like I got ripped off.

Regina Carlysle said...

Okay. I was running a little experiment when I talked to the art department about Killer Curves. I asked for NEKKID and FLAGS. That's it. I wanted hot, hot and hotter. It's the first time I ever did this and I wanted to see if it helps sales. Of course, I'll have a wait since Killer Curves doesn't come out until Sept. ACK. Still, it will be intersting to see.

Lisa F. said...

My only objection to the super racy erotic covers is the fact that I can't leave them lying around the house because of my kids. I'm really not 100% comfortable bringing the book into the house because they tend to snoop around. Usually those books are only bought as ebooks and if they're not available I just have to pass on it.

Stephanie said...

I think a cover should not only represent the story but it should also clue us in on what it's about.

Nora's cover probably wouldn't attract my attention simply because all its showing is flowers and not saying something about the story to me, but because she's Nora she can do that.

And like Regina, I love the animated covers. To me its saying that this is a fun story, but also, if there is a sexy, hot scene it wouldn't be a bad thing. LOL Then again I love animation period. So the cover is bound to catch my eye anyway.

For the racy covers...they do sell better I've witnessed it with writer friend's work. Now is this a good--well yea for the writers--but I'm not sure for the readers cause though the book is sexy itself, most times they don't tell what the story is about.

I guess its just the perogative of the buyers that counts the most in the end.

Anny Cook said...

I have several books in release. The sexiest cover sold the most books. I was upset about the cover because it wasn't one I wanted to flaunt around my grandkids. But there you have it. Nekkid people equals sales.

Anne Rainey said...

Lisa F--I understand what you're saying. My kids are older, but I do have a younger nephew and when he comes over I do tend to hide the racy books. :)

Stephanie--Right you are! A cover should give the reader an idea of what the story is about.

Anny--Ah-ha! PROOF! Nekkid=sales!

Regina Carlysle said...

You know, I think that's why ebooks are becoming soooo popular. Readers have a privacy about what they read. Now me???? I wouldn't flaunt a NEKKID cover around a bunch of little kids but I love a hot, sexy cover. My ebook reader is a DREAM. Instant gratification, a hot cover and privacy. Who could ask for more?

Laura J. said...

Okay, I'm a bad mom as my daughter has seen some of my racer book covers. Her reaction....YUCK!!!! and she covers her eyes and runs away. Guess I don't have to worry about her looking at guys for a while (I only hope it stays that way until she's at least through college). She doesn't like my "kissing books".

As for the question, I definately want the cover to reflect the story. And for me the hotter the cover the better.

I have some quilted book covers to put over my steamer books when I take them out in public. My mil made me one that is trade paperback size since I can't find one that size anywhere else. I'm not ashamed of what I read and have no problem talking to people or recommending books to people, but I want to respect others who may not want to see that (as long as they don't make comments about what I read *g*).

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--I'm jealous. I want an ereader so bad! ugh!

Laura J--LOL!! Your daughter sounds like my youngest. She's going to turn thirteen soon, but she still covers her eyes if she sees a couple kissing on T.V. I'm hoping to keep her that way!

Unknown said...

I love all the covers except the classic cover. It seems to plain to me and it doesn't attract me. The other covers are great and I like the cartoon cover because it seems fun.

J.K. Coi said...

Well, being an author of darker paranormals, of course, I tend to like the darker, sexier cover art. When I'm reading though, it all depends on mood. A cover says (or should say) a lot about the story inside. So if I'm in the mood for something light-hearted, I know I'm not going to grab one of those dark covers and expect to laugh myself silly.

J.K. Coi said...

Oh Anne, I just got myself a nice e-reader last month, and it's boootiful! I love it!

Anne Rainey said...

J.K.--I love the dark paranormal covers, esp the sexy ones! Yum! I think thehe only time I get annoyed is if it seems sexy and then I read the story and you have to wait until 3/4 into the book to get the first love scene. That's frustrating.

Liane Gentry Skye said...

I actually read my first erotic romance by accident because of one of those cute, cartoony covers. Now I loved it, and still read that author. But I can't imagine if my mom picked up that book LOL.

But, the ones that are too explicit, to me, are just that. For me, its sexier to leave a bit to the imagination. Hot, steamy, but don't let it all hang out there and spoil the book for me.;c)

Anne Rainey said...

Phoebe--I agree about the classic cover. It's too boring for my taste. I'd walk right by it. LOL

Liane--LMBO!! Too funny! Yeah, I see where you're coming from. I sort of tend to like somewhere btwn sexy and racy... :)

Unknown said...

Hi Anne! I like covers that can tell me if it’s race or not. Like you, I generally walk past the cute ones unless it’s an author I know. There are a few series that I read that have those covers and I only found them because my sister had them and she lent them to me to read, the same is true of covers like that Nora Roberts cover. I do gravitate to the ones that look like paranormals, one of my big loves. I don’t think they get to racy and raunchy is in the eye of the reader. If I pick up a book showing BDSM I know that is what to expect. Unless the author that I know is always good, I read the blurb because I’ve found too many that the covers don’t fit the story. If I pick up a book with a longhaired guy on it, I don’t want to wind up reading about a guy with a buzz cut!
I don’t use book covers. I leave them lying on my desk at work and at home. I was raised with the idea that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of and that is what I am teaching my son (the ex is a prude, LOL). He knows that I read grown up books and ignores them. He does think it’s funny that they bother some people. If it bothers someone or I know that person is bothered by the books I will turn it over or cover it if that doesn’t work. I really don’t want to offend anyone.
I hope this helps.


Happily Ever After Authors said...

I just basically said what you all are saying over at Regina's blog. :)

Sex sells, but if the cover doesn't match the story, you risk losing readers.

I just can't bring myself to pick up a cartoonish covr. I'd rather read an Archie comic. I realize I could be missing a good read, but how can you get past the image on the front to read it? Maybe the author and cover artist should have thought about how damaging that route could be. Maybe it's not.

I also realize that I may have lost readers for A Psychic Hitch because of my cover choice - but it depicts the heroine and isn't that what we want covers to do?

I could have gone with one of the other choices in that photo set, but it wouldn't have reflected this particular story. It would have for Last Glass of Wine. But I chose to go a more conservative route with it even though the heat level was taken up a notch. Those who couldn't handle the cover of Psychic might be more inclined to buy Last Glass.

I love seeing what works and what doesn't.


Regina Carlysle said...

I think, Bekki, that's probably why I keep asking these questions. I really Do want to know why one book sells like crazy and another doesn't. Is it because of the cover art? Hm. Hard to say and it's anybodies guess.

I REALLY didn't mean to steal Anne's post idea!!! Really. LOL. It was such an accident. One of those things.

Happily Ever After Authors said...

Hey - great minds!


Desirée Lee said...

The "classic" covers don't do much for me. They don't give any insight in to the story.

The cartoony cover makes me think "chick-lit".

I love the dark covers. Paranormal/supernatural is my favorite to write and read so I think that is part of the draw for me.

The sexy covers and the racy covers are nice eye candy though if I read the book and they weren't as sexy or racy as the cover suggested I'd feel gypped.

The covers I really do not like are the CGI models covers, i.e. Poser art. That's not to say that all CGI artists are bad. Many of them are great. Unfortunately they greats do not seem to be employed by publishing houses to do covers for them.

More often than not it is the blurb and/or excerpt that fuels my decision to buy a book. I have bought books with horrid covers and liked the content just fine.

Carpe Noctem,

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Anne Rainey said...

Connie--The way you were raised, bravo! Now that's the way to be!

Des--I agree, I don't like the CGI models either.

Unknown said...

Well, for me, I must say that I like classic covers best, although not the particular one you have on the blog :-). To give an idea, my favorites are Amanda Quick's covers for the Arcane Society series and other single titles - Second Sight, The Paid Companion, The Third Circle, etc.

That said, I must also add that at this point it is not the cover that makes me buy the book, but the author. If I like a particular author, I do not care if the cover is bland or otherwise - I'm buying the book.

Recently, I've been buying a few more mainstream romances because of the strong plot and characterization. When I see a very racy book cover sometimes I think it may contain more sex than I'd like to read (I know it's funny coming from someone who is a sensual romance writer)... and I'm going through a different phase right now. I like a book to be hot where it needs to be and seriously engaging in all other aspects as well.

I think the romance industry needs to command more respect. There are so many romance authors who are talented beyond belief but some look down on this genre because of the "cheesiness" (of course, many speak through ignorance).

I hope you don't hate me but here's my two cents - just like one must dress professionally to go to an interview or work in an office, I think romance books should present themselves in a certain way to tell people that hey, even though we write hot romance, we're also damn smart and we're giving you much to chew on in this book. We're not only dishing out sex - we have a lot more to say than that. In reality, it is the authors who have the power to change the status quo...

Food for thought.


Valerie T. said...

Sorry I'm late on this posting, but thought I could give my two cents worth.

I don't have little ones running around, so if my husband or son see a risque cover, they just roll their eyes. But I don't hide it. Even in public. I don't care what other people think about what I'm reading. Hey, at least I READ. :)

Anyway, I like all types of covers. If I buy a Nora Roberts book, I don't expect nekkid men on there. But I'll still buy her book.

As far as e-books go, my biggest thing is the author. If they're on auto-buy (like Ms. Rainey), I buy it. Others, if it fits the story and it's a story that interests me, I'll buy it.

As someone who's trying to get into the cover design business, it's interesting to see all the different types out there. I just see them as works of art.