With great pleasure we introduce to you Ann Stephens:Cover Me!
Recently, I finished an excellent romance by Elizabeth Lane, THE WIDOWED BRIDE. I cheered for the hero and heroine all the way through the book, and I enjoyed reading about 1920s Colorado. The biggest problem I had with the book was the cover. It showed a dark, handsome hero all right, but instead of Elizabeth’s strawberry blonde heroine, the woman pictured is a brunette.
Stop wondering why Ms. Lane chose a cover that clearly did not depict her female lead! She very likely did not see it until the image, back copy, and font had been selected and printed by Harlequin’s marketing department! To get cover approval at most major publishing houses, an author has to be at the sales level of J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, or Stephen King.
In a way, this does make sense. As a new author, I can guarantee that the marketing staff at Kensington has sold a lot more books than I have. And I will admit that an eye-catching cover is what makes me pick up the book or click on it to find out more. Like most readers, my decision to buy a book takes maybe 30 seconds. That first glance is crucial. One of the best covers I have ever seen is Vanessa Kelly’s SEX AND THE SINGLE EARL. I totally wanted to reach out and touch this!
While people have complimented the gorgeous hero pictured on HER SCOTTISH GROOM, my favorite thing about it is the house pictured. I put a lot of thought into the kind of house Kieran’s family would own. (If their original home was destroyed by the English a century before the book opens, what would replace it? Yeah, writers think about stuff like that.) The marketing department nailed it!
For authors less thrilled with covers assigned to their books, one of the pleasures of self-publishing is control over the cover. Some models and artists have set up their own sites, offering poses to suit all eras and genres of romance novels. Of course, this means that the author then needs to buy the image she wants and either design the entire cover herself or pay someone else to do it. Graphic design requires skill, as an awkward cover makes a potential reader wonder if the story inside is also amateurishly presented.
Mind you, one theory offered for increased sales of romance novels for electronic readers relates to the tradition of lurid book covers. The standard clinch shot may not look very professional if one is, say, an attorney or a teacher. E-readers offer romance lovers the chance to read their favorite books without worrying about raised eyebrows or snarky comments by those who still think romance means wimpy women hanging around waiting around for some guy to rip their bodices.