Thursday, February 28, 2008

The ugly, the bad, and the awesome

It's me! (Heh. Almost forgot to blog today.) But I'm here, and I want to talk cover art. Let's let the hair down and get out the claws, shall we? And let's focus on romance novels.

What, about the cover, attracts you to a romance novel?

Are you a clinch person, or do you prefer flowers or scenery?
Do you like bold colors or subdued?
What about the font? Does that grab you in any particular way? Foil or no foil?
Do you prefer just the hero, or just the heroine on the front?
What about those headless shots? Just the bare male chest, or the female back?
And what's up with every other book displaying a tattoo lately?

I ask all this, and really want to know what floats everyone's boats because i just got my July cover. Here it is:

I love this cover. The colors are a little subdued for me, but the hero and heroine are sexy and they work for me. And do you love that butterfly overlay?
But here's me, two seconds after gushing over the cover: Oh, look, the hero has hair on his chest. Uggh! It's my first hairy-chest-guy cover. For the record, he is hairless in the book. Does that bother you when things appear on the cover that aren't in the book? And his hair color in the story is brown with blonde streaks.
Now, the heroine's hair in the story is red. Hmm... That bothers me only a little, but probably because I've come to the point where I just appreciate that the artwork rocks. You know? But how long will it take readers to keep flipping from reading to glaring at the cover?
Lastly, my son just commented that the hero is really rockin' the Elvis sideburns and pompadour (though the shadowing above his head just makes it look that way; I hope). Now I won't be able to think of anyone but The King when I look at this cover.

So talk to me. What do you REALLY ABSOLUTELY love in covers. It'll make you buy a book even without reading what it's about. And what will make you put a book back on the shelf so fast you'll give the guy standing next to you a papercut?



Betina Krahn said...

If there's a guy on the cover, he'd better be smokin'. I don't mind clinch covers, as long as they're not cheesy or overly explicit.

I like foil and bright colors, myself. And I'm crazy about covers that use neat lettering that hints at the tone of the book. I've bought some books from new authors because the covers made me do it. They turned out to be great books. Of course, I've had a few ugly surprises as well.

But for spooky, paranormal stories, the darker colors work well. . . Michele, I'm not a big fan of the hairy chest on the cover, either. Unless, of course, he's a werewolf. . . lol.

My favorite covers of my own haven't been clinches and have had an element of whimsy on them. My special favorites were the knight knocking a letter in the title askew and a cute pig on the cover. But then, that's me.

Cindy Gerard said...

Great topic, Michelle. And great cover, BTW! congrats. IMO, cover art is critical to the sale of a book. With almost 40 books out, I've had some great ones and some really awful ones. the one I remember most is the guy who looked like a lounge lizard. Eeek. That book did NOT sell well. Then again, my first Desire featured a cowboy with a ten gallon hat and what we call High Water pants. Instead of hanging sexily on his hips, the waist of his jeans was darned near to his arm pits. Okay. so that's an exaggeration but it was a horrible portrayal of a cowboy, no matter how you slice it. And yet that book sold very well. so go figure. But I like a realistic cover art look. Something that shows real, not cartoon people (unless they are supposed to be cartoon people and then that's cool)and something that sets the tone for the book. If it's action and suspense, I want to cover to reflect that. If I want a romantic suspense, I want to see a cover that lets me know there will be romance as well as a tense and edgy story. While I like certain colors, I won't put down a book if it's not a fav color but I would put it down if I don't buy into the cover concept. Yikes. Sounds like I want to judge the book by its cover - which makes it really scary for those of us who get less than stellar cover art. Well, now I'm depressed :o( I think we need a reader's take on this as I'm way too invested.

Helen Brenna said...

I love your new cover, Michele. That butterfly overlay totally rocks! But I get how you can start to pick it apart after your initial gut reaction. I do the same thing. For the record, I like hairy chests. I'll pass on hairy back or shoulders, but a nice thick rug on the chest trips my trigger. Your guy's hot!

As for covers in general - there is nothing that will make me buy a book just because of its cover.

I like heroes on covers more than heroines. He's the reason why I read romances, right?

Michele Hauf said...

Betina, I loved that cover with the knight tilting at the letters too! It was so clever!

Cindy, you sound as picky as me! I can buy a book if the cover rocks. Seriously. I have some books on my keeper shelf that the story wasn't necessarily keeper, but the cover was.

Helen, yeah, hairy chests are okay, but they're iffy on romance covers. Half the time, if the guy has a pelt, they end up looking like they've got a rash or some disease. I think I might have lucked out with this one, but he does look a little wolfie. :-) (Oh, he's a vampire, by the way.) And can anyone guess what his problem is from the title?

lois greiman said...

Wow MiHauf, great cover. I really like it, and I don't usually like hairy guys on covers cuz they usually make it look like scare tissure. Okay, maybe that's just me.

I've spoken to so many people lately who tell me they always buy books because of the cover. A little scary.

Great title too, by the by. Nice package. Oh, hmmmm, that sounds kind of suggestive.

Debra Dixon said...

I'm not much of a hairy chest cover girl. (g)

I buy people I don't know because the cover intrigues me or I like the people on the cover or he setting delivers a vibe for the kind of story for which I'm looking.

For authors I know, I could care less about the cover. :)

When Loveswept did that experiment many many years ago and took the people off their covers, the sales PLUMMETED !! That told me all I ever needed to know about the category romance buyer and book covers.

Cindy Gerard said...

Deb - HA - nice to know you don't have a hairy chest :o) Okay, so I know what you meant but your "I'm not much of a hair chest cover girl" made me grin.
Sorry. i'm in a mood today ..

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- LOL! I didn't notice what I was typing until I'd typed it. But I thought it was funny too. (g) I guess we're both in a mood.

Christie Ridgway said...

Michele: He's an amnesiac vampire, of course!

I absolutely love the butterly overlay. Does it have significance to the story, or is it just a cool effect?

And I am putting that Elvis reference out of my head. Not thinking it!

I want the cover to suggest the tone and to not make me embarrassed to be found reading it. I'm kinda over all that part, but it took me a while to get comfortable with some romance covers. I used to travel alone a lot on business and I always read these thriller/murder books with dripping blood on the cover because I found they kept men from hitting on me.

flip said...

I love covers featuring partially clad men showing where their hip and waist meets. I love that part of the body.

Betina Krahn said...

I'm a big fan of shoulders and pecs, myself. My second favorite body part on men is virtually never seen on covers of any kind. . . hands. I love great looking hands, muscular, artistic, fingertips a bit square, masculine but capable. sigh.

And your butterfly is wonderful, Michele. I'll be watching for this one!

Michele Hauf said...

Lois, I can't even see his package, so... :-)

Yep, gotta love an amnesiac vampire. And when he was a young vamp in the 18th century he used to call his lovely lady victims 'butterflies' so that's what that's about. The title was originally Stalking Butterflies, which I loved, but it wasn't very Harlequin-friendly, so I like the new title as well.

What I like on covers is curliques. Seriously. You know that fancy scroll work stuff they have here and there? If it's got curliques, I'm so there. My butterfly is sort of curlique-esque, so there is that.

And fancy fonts! As long as they're not so fancy you can't make out the letters. Any nice font really does it for me as well, and I can usually overlook a not-so-studly hero if the font is workin'.


Kathleen Eagle said...

It's a good cover, Michele. I love the colors, love the butterfly overlay. I could do without the hairy chest, but that's probably my little bias. (Don't let them give you an American Indian hero with a hairy chest. To my knowledge, it doesn't happen in nature.)

I think the key is getting something different from the rest of the covers out that month, starting with color. And I'm tired of headless cover people. I like people with heads.

Playground Monitor said...

One of my RWA chaptermates had a cover where the hero had no facial hair, yet he distinctly had a goatee in the book (and in the art facts sheet). So she wrote a scene where he shaved the goatee because she actually loved the cover so much. It was one of the Nocturne Raintree books.

I know how much agony y'all go through with covers so I never let a cover influence whether I buy a book or not. And yeah, I might flip back and say "Hey, the redhaired heroine is blonde on the cover" but I know that's not the author's fault.

Give me a great story between the covers and I'm good. Of course, were I published I'd probably be singing a different tune.


Kimberly Van Meter said...

It's a very nice cover, Michelle!
I'm not entirely sure what turns my crank but sexy lips are nice, as is the soft swell of a muscular bicep...but I also like covers that are pretty. There have been some Super covers that I thought were gorgeous without people on them but I guess they didn't sell as well and so the Art Dept stopped doing that. FWIW, I liked them.