Even though many authors have some say in the lids slapped on their reads, almost every scribe you ask has a horror story about their Cover from Hell.
Take as an example NY Times bestseller Christina Dodd's Milady Trois Bras, the unfortunate depicted on the front of Dodd's medieval romance, "Castles in the Air." As you can observe, for all her charms, Milady's a bit grasping, with one hand on terra firma, another at her right hip and still another clutched lovingly by her tempting Templar lover.
Yet Dodd's had myriad cover success stories since, and the majority of romance-fiction book toppers work because nobody in the industry knows how to move attractive reads to consumers like romance. In addition to raking in $1.37 billion in sales in 2008 - the largest piece of the fiction pie -- romance fiction also was the top-performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists.
That's a heap of lids in front of a whole lotta' eyeballs that make initial info-gathering judgments like so many of us: based on covers. So what covers are catching my notice these days?
Monica Burns' "Kismet," a lush illustration evocative of Burns' gorgeous Middle Eastern-set story of adventure and self actualization, especially in the art director's powerful choice of female-superior pose and sensual fabrics. The painterly quality of the piece creates movement and the palette and font choices intrigue. "Kismet" deserves such a dynamic cover.
Anything but classic romance-novel cover, Charlotte Stein's "The Things that Make Me Give In" is stunning and alluring in its stark communication of intent to meet readers' expectations. The bold photographic background and palette attract and attach the eye to the clean, crisp font and tagline, "Desires that remove every inhibition." The moist, open, feminine mouth is a dynamic, seductive image for the erom reader, a placeholder icon that promises what this book delivers: one of the sexiest erotic-romance reads of 2009.
Readers: What about a book's cover catches your eye and makes you buy it or pass it over? Authors: What's your cover success story -- or favorite cover nightmare that you can talk about now w/out becoming apoplectic?
Check out Michelle Buonfiglio's take on romance fiction every day at BN.com's Heart to Heart blog and at RomanceBuyTheBook.com. Catch more of her Unabashedly Bookish romance fiction posts here.