What do you think for cover?

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Maggie2005

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Does a pretty sad girl on the cover convey romance
or a shirtless guy or a hot couple

what do you prefer or what make you click to buy?

Does it play a huge factor or something presentable would be okay?
 

Dan Rhys

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I think an attractive woman, perhaps in a longing state, with either the shadow or silhouette of a man lurking somewhere nearby would be good. The standard shirtless guy making love to the leggy woman is, I think, too trite a cover.
 

Sonya Heaney

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This is a real question … ?
Romance covers in some countries are completely different to romance covers in others. The “topless guy” covers sell huge numbers of books in certain places while they turn off readers elsewhere. In one market you’ll have some shirtless man, and in another you’ll have a demure Jane Austen lady. Cover designers know their job, and they do it well.
I waited in agony for my first cover, and it turned out to be GORGEOUS (you can see it in the links below).
I didn’t pick up a romance book for so long because I thought it was just a sex-fest. The covers implied that. I was STUNNED when I read a few and discovered there was more (good!) story than sex!
 
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KBooks

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What works well in one sub-genre of romance may be totally out of place in another (i.e. the kind of cover I would put on a steamy paranormal romance with dragon-shifters would look completely different from the kind I would put on a flirty Christmas rom-com set in a bakery.) Your cover is the first thing that will either get readers to click or turn them away so you want it to match genre expectations.
 

Carrie in PA

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What works well in one sub-genre of romance may be totally out of place in another (i.e. the kind of cover I would put on a steamy paranormal romance with dragon-shifters would look completely different from the kind I would put on a flirty Christmas rom-com set in a bakery.) Your cover is the first thing that will either get readers to click or turn them away so you want it to match genre expectations.

Exactly this. Whatever your subgenre is, go look at the top 100 selling books in that category. And don't try to push the envelope too far - as in, don't put a shirtless guy on a sweet romance because shirtless guys say "steamy" so you'll never reach the sweet readers, and tick off the readers looking for steamy and end up with sweet.
 

Hopefully WLCT

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I grew up reading books with Fabio on the cover and I loved every single one! Now, to be honest, the cover doesn't matter to me.
 

LJD

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I've liked lots of different types of covers. One person, couples. Photos, illustrated...so many things can work.

BUT. It should be appropriate for the subgenre, heat level, and tone. A cover tells the reader something about the book.

Even still, I write rom-coms (all m/f) with open-door sex scenes, and I've used couples, guy only--both clothed and shirtless--and illustrated covers without people. (See here.)

(Personally, I'm not a fan of shirtless, headless guy with super-defined abs, however.)
 

Animad345

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What an interesting thread! I don't usually think about covers so much -- when I'm at the bookshop, I tend to zone in on titles -- but I prefer covers that don't have the characters on them.
 

Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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As a reader who gets the vast majority of her fiction reading material from Kobo, I put a lot of weight on the cover when I'm looking at books whose authors are new to me. Amateur covers -- hand drawings from someone who's about as artistic as me, illegible fonts, clumsy kerning, zillions of competing images, etc -- are an immediate no. Since Kobo shows a title and book cover and the first ~30 words of the blurb, and from there you click to read the full blurb, the cover plays a large role in whether I click. In the romance genre, I use the person(s) featured on the cover to tell me the age, gender, race, and species (for paranormals) of the protagonist, as well as the setting. I use the style of the cover pose to tell me the heat level, tone, and more about the setting.

I am vastly more likely to buy a book if I've already read a book by that author. I quite often buy 'the next X books in the series' if I've downloaded the first book for free and loved it.

That's just one datum point, but I'm probably not alone in my shopping habits.
 

Roxxsmom

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It really depends on the subgenre and heat level of the romance. I read a lot of historical romance with smart, unconventional FMCs and a relatively high heat level. The covers of those books most often seem to have a picture of a woman in an old-fashioned dress (that may not actually reflect the period of the novel), sometimes with a building or pastoral landscape in the background. Like this one. Often, the MMC isn't on the cover at all, even if the pov is split between the two characters.

I associate the shirtless male torso covers with a certain kind of contemporary romances, and I associate the ones with the swooning women in the arms of the male hero (like this one) with a certain kind of "bodice ripper," not just spicy but with an "alpha male" hero who is possessive and rapey (maybe I'm not always right about that, but that's what those covers make me think of).

You probably should do some research about the way cover design in romance coveys to prospective readers a particular setting, period, heat level, and relationship dynamic.
 

Sonya Heaney

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What an interesting thread! I don't usually think about covers so much -- when I'm at the bookshop, I tend to zone in on titles -- but I prefer covers that don't have the characters on them.

Replying a bit late, but a ROMANCE cover with no characters on it is unicorn-level rare.
 

Sonya Heaney

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The covers of those books most often seem to have a picture of a woman in an old-fashioned dress (that may not actually reflect the period of the novel), sometimes with a building or pastoral landscape in the background. Like this one. Often, the MMC isn't on the cover at all, even if.

My first book was a not particularly steamy historical romance, but I still nearly fainted when I was sent the cover and it was historically accurate.

I'm actually angry about a lot of US historical romance covers at the moment. All the women in sleeveless prom/Quinceañera dresses with HUGE Eighties hair ... The same book is then released overseas with a wildly different cover. The US cover people need to stop dumbing things down.
 

Marian Perera

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Replying a bit late, but a ROMANCE cover with no characters on it is unicorn-level rare.

I've actually seen quite a few - for instance, Anne Stuart's romantic suspense series Ice and its continuation Fire have no people on the covers.

A lot of Mary Balogh's older books (the Slightly series among them) didn't. Ditto for Catherine Coulter's Magic romances, and some of Catherine Anderson's books. My copy of Lorraine Heath's Always to Remember doesn't either. Finally, I went to All About Romance and glanced at the covers along the top of the page. One of them features a Christmassy scene with no people, and another shows coffee beans in the shape of a heart.

ETA : And of course, there's Fifty Shades of Grey and every other romance which used "close-up of man's watch or tie clasp" to show readers what they could expect.
 
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Carrie in PA

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I've actually seen quite a few - for instance, Anne Stuart's romantic suspense series Ice and its continuation Fire have no people on the covers.

A lot of Mary Balogh's older books (the Slightly series among them) didn't. Ditto for Catherine Coulter's Magic romances, and some of Catherine Anderson's books. My copy of Lorraine Heath's Always to Remember doesn't either. Finally, I went to All About Romance and glanced at the covers along the top of the page. One of them features a Christmassy scene with no people, and another shows coffee beans in the shape of a heart.

ETA : And of course, there's Fifty Shades of Grey and every other romance which used "close-up of man's watch or tie clasp" to show readers what they could expect.

Sylvia Day has a bazillion books with objects on the cover.

Also, illustrated covers are becoming more and more popular in romance, Christina Lauren comes to mind - and while some have illustrated people, lots of them are peopleless.
 

Gillhoughly

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It depends on the level of "heat" in the romance.

If you have lust at first sight with plenty of nookie, then a hot couple with few clothes cover will find its audience.

A slow burn romance leading up to a plot driven encounter, then an attractive couple making eyes at each other hints at what's inside, just make sure to deliver on the sexual tension.

If it's snappy and playful, falling in love in spite of themselves, think Hallmark movies as a cover theme.

Look at covers on your shelves. Did they match the heat level inside?

This is a good place to shop: https://selfpubbookcovers.com/

You can study covers and figure out what's being represented in each potential story. A hot guy in a tuxedo holding a gal tight indicates smoldering sophistication, a dash of adventure and mystery. A couple in a country setting with misty trees and mountains conveys cozy conflicts focused on character development.
 

Earthling

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I really struggle with this because I like steamy romances and even erotica, but still find the shirtless-guy covers unappealing. I also know that they do sell books and I'm an anomaly.

My first publication was with a small press, and they asked for my ideas on cover design. I said I didn't like torso covers but if they thought it would work I would be fine with it; they're the experts. I also made some tenative suggestions for what might work. I wish I hadn't because they tried to fulfil my vision and it turned out my idea was terrible. ;) But the only review that mentioned the cover said they liked it, so it seems I'm out of step with most romance readers once again.

My next (<<< that one) is with a Big 5 publisher who didn't ask for ideas or tell me anything about the cover until the draft arrived, at which point she asked what I (and my agent) thought. I absolutely loved it but thought it would look cute with the hero's other dog on there as well, so I sent back a sketch of what I was picturing. My editor got the cover artist to draw in the second dog and, yet again, my idea was bad. It didn't look right, and we went with the original. On the other hand my agent made a suggestion about the spacing of the different elements which was also acted on, and DID make the cover better.

I started off thinking cover design was best left to the professionals and my experiences have reinforced that tenfold. I'm certainly never going to suggest a design again, and I don't think I'll make improvement suggestions on existing designs. If I get a torso cover and my publishers think it will sell books, then I'll gratefully take a torso cover.
 
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Meemossis

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I think the type of lady can let the reader know if there is sex in a book. I've noticed the close-up views (in historical romances, anyway) tend to be "clean". Whereas, if you see the whole body and a bare shoulder, it's hats off. ;)
 

TheListener

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Totally depends on the romance sub-genre. A shirtless man will always garner my attention as I scroll. Muscles and tats, even better. A sexy couple works too. The sad and frowning woman who looks distraught? I will never click on it. If you write dark romance, then make sure the cover conveys that or the title. If you write sweet, then make it look sweet. As a reader, I click on it because the cover speaks to me enough to read the blurb and if that gets my motor revving and my heart all atwitter, I buy. Both need to work.
 

SusanStar

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I usually don't like having the characters (either pov or love interest) on the cover just because I prefer to let my mind's eye interpret how they look. I like the kind of covers that go for something symbolic like a landscape or an accessory that means something to the characters or some kind of mood-setting art piece that gives me an idea of the atmosphere waiting between the pages. Essentially, anything that's got me curious, I'll test the waters.
 

Black and white winter scene with evergreens in the snow, and a house