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shizu
06-20-2016, 05:31 AM
I'm currently looking into cover options for some rights-reverted books I'm thinking of self-publishing, and I'm finding that my personal taste doesn't run to having people on the cover. Rather, I find myself leaning more towards using elements that play off certain imagery from the books -- locations, objects etc.

These books are M/M romances (including some sex, but they're not what I'd call out'n'out erotica). Would the lack of a guy of some description on the cover be off-putting/confusing for readers? Would they tend to scroll past a cover that didn't immediately jump out as being a romance?

veinglory
06-20-2016, 06:42 AM
If I am looking for M/M and the cover doesn't fit that pattern, it is pretty predicable that I might scan right over it.

My books with "typical" covers sell better, probably for this reason.

Latina Bunny
06-20-2016, 07:32 AM
These books are M/M romances (including some sex, but they're not what I'd call out'n'out erotica). Would the lack of a guy of some description on the cover be off-putting/confusing for readers? Would they tend to scroll past a cover that didn't immediately jump out as being a romance?

I don't know about other readers, but I myself, as a M/M (and M/F) Romance reader, tend to prefer covers with people on the cover. For me, it's probably a taste thing.

Looking at my own book collection, when it comes to my Romance (both M/M and M/F) selections, I notice I usually pick books that have the characters, obviously the romantic couple (or more, if it's poly), on the covers.

ETA: The times I do have Romance books without characters on the covers, are books by Nora Roberts, and a few YA SFF books.

ETA2: If a book cover doesn't feel like a typical Romance cover, then I would have to take more time to check its blurb and genre.

Maryn
06-20-2016, 09:12 PM
While my personal preference is for no people on covers, one way readers know what they're looking at is the cover resembling other covers in the genre and subgenre. Erotica has people. M/M erotica has men, always. For that reason alone, I'd recommend having at least one handsome man prominently featured on your cover, even if it's not to your personal taste. It's a business decision, not an artistic one.

Maryn, who might let her eyes glide past a person-free erotica cover

Filigree
06-20-2016, 10:48 PM
It is a business decision, but hear out the alternative. C. S. Pacat's three books in the Captive Prince series were branded with symbol covers that conveyed the regal simplicity of the already famous self-published versions. I'm seeing a few more object/symbol covers in M/M. There's also market to consider: American editions tend to get figure covers, UK markets less so.

I can share a personal depressing anecdote: because my debut was both M/M romance and space opera, my first publisher branded it firmly as M/M with two hot boys (one I had to fight for to get the right skin color & features) and a futuristic city...nobody but M/M readers bought it, and only a couple thousand of those over 4 years. I'm getting the rights back next month, toning down some of the sex, and turning the cover more SFF, though probably still with one figure. Then self-publishing.

Added, with some bluntness: is your book appealing to typical M/M readers? If so, brand accordingly. If it already has elements that might put them off, at least consider branding in another direction. You can still have a hot guy, but use the cover to signal those other story aspects.

Latina Bunny
06-21-2016, 02:35 AM
Wasn't Captive Prince fantasy, though? (Is it marketed as M/M Romance originally, or just Fantasy that happens to have gay main characters?)

I think with SFF, you have more leeway with covers and types of content.



Added, with some bluntness: is your book appealing to typical M/M readers? If so, brand accordingly. If it already has elements that might put them off, at least consider branding in another direction. You can still have a hot guy, but use the cover to signal those other story aspects.

I agree with this. It kind of depends on the markets and perhaps even the genre.

If it's erotica or erotic, I would expect the characters involved with the relationship on the front.

I have had some M/M SFF and M/M crime books that didn't have "hot, naked abs" on the front, but they had either the faces, the clothed bodies, or illustrated pictures of the couple in some way.

(Another obvious exception from my collection: My LGBT YA books didn't always have characters on the front. None of them had hot abs, obviously, lol.)

shizu
06-21-2016, 08:04 AM
Thanks for all your responses, and for confirming my suspicion that I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I catered to my own taste on this one. As a reader/buyer, I'm much more drawn to unusual or non-traditional covers, but the fact that those styles are unusual and non-traditional shows I'm in a minority there. And while I'm not looking to make fabulous amounts of sales with these re-releases (they're just out of contract/out of print stuff, and while I don't see myself shopping them around anywhere new I feel it's a shame to let them languish), I would like them to be recognizable to readers who might be interested.

Interestingly, although all of these novellas were originally marketed as M/M romance, only one of them had a (real) person on the cover. That one was part of an anthology, while the others were part of a house line that had specifically commissioned art for the covers. Oh, and one more was also an anthology, but again the cover featured artwork rather than photography. None of the artwork covers screamed "Romance!" at all, but readers knew what they were getting from the line in which they were released -- and the publisher that released them -- so it may not have mattered as much.

(Actually, I can only think of one of my books that has the 'traditional' chiselled torso/s on the cover, which -- when you consider I had a good deal of input into several of 'em -- says something about my tastes! It's also my bestseller, which may or may not be related, but it also probably says something about my judgment...)

I still don't feel they're erotica, so hot naked abs might be a bit of false advertising, heh, but while there are elements ranging from historical to paranormal to mystery they are romance first and foremost. Hopefully I can still work in some of the imagery I was leaning toward while also signalling that accordingly.

Thanks for the food for thought!

Latina Bunny
06-21-2016, 03:51 PM
I still don't feel they're erotica, so hot naked abs might be a bit of false advertising, heh, but while there are elements ranging from historical to paranormal to mystery they are romance first and foremost. Hopefully I can still work in some of the imagery I was leaning toward while also signalling that accordingly.


Just to point out: Hot abs are not always necessary for M/M Romances.

Look at other M/M Romances from various publishers. There are many M/M covers that have clothed guys, or have just the guys' heads (and sometimes shoulders).

It also depends on the subgenre, too. For example, I noticed many M/M Paranormals would also include the animal form(s) on the cover, if any of the main characters are shapeshifters.

(If it's vampires, then they would usually treat it like a regular M/M with guys on front, but sometimes with a hint to the darkish elements, like darker or gray/gray-blue covers, or adding orange or reddish tint to the cover or actual font, etc.)

I've seen some M/M crime fiction, thriller, or murder mystery books have more subdued or dark color-schemes.

With non-Paranormal SFF stuff?...

The SFF ones can vary in their covers, depending on the story elements. Usually if they're very strongly marketed as M/M Romance than SFF, then usually characters are on the covers.

If it's more like SFF that just happens to have a gay romance, and the SFF plot elements are stronger than the actual romance elements, then they would be put into the SFF section with more typical SFF covers. These are usually not marketed as M/M Romances, though there are some exceptions.

ETA: Also, there are reader expectations. Romance readers want either Happy For Now endings or Happily Ever After endings. Just giving a heads-up in case you are not aware of this Romance expectation. :)

veinglory
06-21-2016, 06:26 PM
My idea of "traditional" M/M covers is not quite as narrow as orange-hued sweaty abs, although I will certainly use that when it is appropriate. By one of more intriguing looking males in vaguely "romancy" poses.

gtbun
08-05-2016, 03:17 PM
I'm not sure the lack of a clearly-defined man on a cover is going to set you back. If anything, the "traditional" approach - a quick google search shows me lots of oily abs - might look a bit naff. If I were to look through my mother's bookshelf, which I am loath to do, I would find a bunch of books that all look the same. If someone's scrolling through a plethora of similarly themed books, a good-looking but slightly different design may well stand out more.

When it comes to romance and anything vaguely erotic, I would always look at Anais Nin's modern designs:

https://67.media.tumblr.com/2f4f0cc352d46a15eb159d544788e082/tumblr_obfove7iUR1rnrg56o1_400.jpghttps://67.media.tumblr.com/ce4b96beb46863de80de881b2c386dde/tumblr_obfove7iUR1rnrg56o2_400.jpg

Yes, they're kind enough to include naked women on the front to let us know what we're getting in for. But it's nowhere near as in your face as m/m fiction covers, and it's mostly about the type. Frankly, the concept of using imagery related to the plot and locations sounds a much better option than the traditional stock portraits you find in the usual covers.