Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Eve Ortega GuestBlog: Bringing Sexy Back

Contest!!! Eve's got a great prize for one LCB. Read on...

Eve Ortega was here in early January and quickly became a favorite of many Bellas. We read a chapter of her Work In Progress that day, and I've since been lucky enough to read a draft manuscript (the first manny I've ever requested, doncha know
). Well, the novel's romantic and hot and Regency, and I can't wait for the final product. Perhaps Eve'll tell us what's doin with "Goddess of Beauty" today. For sure, she's here to chat about a cover art phenomenon that dearly needs exposing. A warm Bella buongiorno, please, for our friend, Eve...

Is it just me, or are we se
eing a lot of bare backs on romance covers lately? I recently got a behind-the-scenes perspective on the “sexyback” trend and an insider’s look at how a romance novel goes from bond-paper manuscript to the bestseller list.

As the Chapter Grand Prize winner of the 2006 Avon FanLit contest, I traveled to NYC last month to spend the day at Avon/HarperCollins headquarters. I had tea with the very gracious Eloisa James, lunch at Saks with Avon editors Tessa Woodward and Esi Sogah, and chatted with lovely people in the Publicity, Marketing, and Editorial departments. But one especially fun part of the day was my tour of the Art Department, where all the Avon romance covers are created.

My guide, Will, began by showing me some of the original paintings used for Avon covers. Although a lot of publishers are moving to computer-generated art, Avon still commissions actual paintings for most of their romance covers. For historicals, they often start with models in period costume, and then they send the photos to the artist. I got to see some of the paintings up close (alas, not the models!), and they are exquisite.

One that especially caught my eye was the cover of Jenna Petersen's Desire Never Dies. Interestingly, the original painting extends further down … there’s quite a bit of heroic posterior that didn't quite make it onto the cover! Evidently, publishers can't put too much nudity on a cover if they want WalMart to sell the book, and WalMart is a huge market for romance novels. So the art and editorial departments have to walk a fine line between making the cover sexy enough to sell and keeping it modest enough for the retailers. Hence, the current popularity of the naked back – evidently, it’s acceptable nudity.

Will also showed me this amazing coverflat for Kathryn Caskie's upcoming release, How to Engage an Earl. I just love this sexy tug-of-war that wraps around the book - it speaks volumes about the romantic relationship and definitely engages my interest. As a reader, I love the tussle in a romance as much, if not more than, the clinch.

Of course, for those of us who are aspiring authors, it’s fun to dream up covers of our own. My good friend Sara used her Photoshop talents to inspire me as I work on my current novel-in-progress, tentatively titled Goddess of Beauty. (gob_cover2.gif) That’s Sophia Myles and a scruffy (and hot! and wet!) Hugh Jackman, starring as a runaway debutante and a rogue-gone-respectable, lashed together by love on the high seas.

What kind of cover art catches your eye? Have you ever bought a book solely on the basis of the cover art – or decided against purchasing it for the same reason? Do you love to hate the cheesy clinch, or hate to love it?

And if your life were a romance novel, who would you put on the cover? GlassGiant.com/romance/ will let you use any picture to make your own cover – a favorite celebrity, your significant other. Here’s a little something I put together for you, Michelle!

Bellas, thanks so much for having me back! You can read more about me and my trip to NYC on my blog TessaDare.com. If anyone has other questions about my day at Avon, feel free to ask – I learned a lot, and I’m delighted to share. And – sigh – since I have no coverflats or signed ARCs of my own to give away yet, I’ll be glad to send one lucky bella 3 recent Avon releases of her choosing!
***
Encore! Grazie for the lovely cover, Tessa!
Encore due! amyskf, the Lusties have randomly selected you as their winner from Monday's Lust Bites GuestBlog! Send me your snail mail at mbuonfiglio@RBtheBook.com.

60 comments:

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Eve! Welcome back, and thanks for updating us on your trip to Avon. I just wish you could have come back w/an insider report on Buzzy, my favorite Avon publicist. :) I think he was on vacation then.

Well, covers are fun to dish, no? I can say the covers that don't get my attn are the "real estate" covers. So I'm drawn to them only by author's name. If I don't know the author, I've got to explore further, but I'm not sure how that works for others. If I'm buyin for fun, I'm not as attracted to those covers as the model cover shots.

I don't really mind the clinch much, and actually appreciate it when the art's great and the couple's beautiful. But the guys with the over-producted hair and poofy muscles still give me the creeps.

Thank you SO much for the Canna romance cover, Eve. I'd love to read that book, dog ear the good parts...to heck w/the keeper shelf, that's a nightstand novel if I ever saw one. (I've officially passed the point where you all tolerate my obsession, haven't I?)

So welcome, Eve, welcome Friends of Eve -- soon to be Bellas! Looking forward to some fun today. :)

Stacy~ said...

Welcome Eve! It's lovely to have you back :)

I love the variety of covers, from the floral to the flirty colors to the sexy and seductive. I don't mind the clinches much either. I'm fairly open about what's on - and in - my romances.

What I don't like are amateurish covers (a lot of ebooks are like this) or ones that have the models look like bad videogame characters. I don't like the soul-less eyes and blank stares that graphically-generated models tend to have. I also don't like the covers to have models that are practically doing the deed on the cover - they should be tastefully sexy, even not, but not sleazy. I know what I'm getting when I pick up a book from a certain line, and the rating system is usually pretty accurate so there's no need to put it all out on display. Let us use our imaginations a little ;)

I have picked up a book because it caught my eye, but have never bought one solely on the cover. The blurb has to catch my interest. Btw, love Michelle's cover - I bet she'd buy it solely for that purpose. Guess I can't say as I blame her.

Congrats Amy!

Tessa Dare said...

Good morning, Michelle!

Forgive typos, I'm barely cracking my eyes open over here in Cali - got my 5 AM wake-up call courtesy of my baby, as usual.

Anyway, thanks so much for having me back. I had a great time here in January, I had a great time in NYC - I could (and have) gone on and on about it ... Avon was really great to me, and I learned so much that day - not just about cover art. If you're interested, you can read more -a LOT more - on my blog. I've put up links to all 5 of my blogs about that day. And yesterday we talked deflowering TMI, which is worth a bit of scrolling down!

Oh, I should mention that this is me, Eve - Tessa is my writing/blogging alter ego. Another happy consequence of the FanLit contest, which I entered under the name "TessaD."

As for what covers draw me - I must say, there's probably a disconnect between the covers I'll admit to liking and the covers that actually draw my eye. I've noticed that books around my house that keep drawing my attention are ones where we see some eyes - a body part that 's strangely scarce. There are a lot of decapitated cover people. And, as I noted, backs.

Michelle, I don't mind a clinch, either - but my ideal is a clinchy stepback. That way it's there for my enjoyment, but the book's safe for doctor's offices and whatnot.

Stacy, thanks for the welcome! There's a whole different dynamic in play with ebook covers, isn't there? I mean, you never have to give them to a store clerk or take them out in public, so anything goes, it seems. But I'm with you - even though anything goes, I'd prefer to have *something* left to my imagination.

And of course, there's nothing worse than when the cover people bear no resemblence to the characters as the author writes them - my guide at Avon, editor Tessa Woodward, talked about how the editors try to make sure that the basics - hair color, eye color, period-appropriate attire - are the consistent. And certain aspects of the cover - clothing, shading - can be and often are changed along the way, either by the artist or with computer effects. There are a LOT of people who have to approve each cover.

Tessa Dare said...

Oh yes, and I owe Michelle a huge thank you for being so good as to read my first novel, Goddess of the Hunt, in one of its early incarnations. Michelle, you were so kind to give my big-ol-stack-o-paper the attention that you did, what with all the stacks of books with Actual Covers you have vying for your attention. Since then, it's gone through more revision and is now out there for some other people to read it and tell me what they think. While I'm waiting, I'm working on the next book, the one I'm calling Goddess of Beauty. (I'm trying not to get too attached to my titles - because another thing I learned at Avon was that the author's working title almost NEVER gets used.) My goal is to have it drafted by the time RWA rolls around in July.

Anyone else going to RWA conference in Dallas? I heard a rumor that Avon might host a social hour or somesuch for FanLit participants, which I was really excited to hear.

CrystalG said...

I like a variety of covers. Covers that have a symbol(locket, flowers, hat and gloves) covers with a good looking hero, covers that portray a scene from the novel. I don't like covers where the art work is poorly done.
A cheesy clinch doesn't bother me.

MaryKate said...

Hi Tessa! Welcome back to RBtB, we're glad to have you visit again!

I'm a huge cover snob. I'll cop to it, happily. I hate clinch covers. I don't like what some people refer to as "man-titty" on covers. I like tasteful covers. I think Avon does gorgeous covers for the most part. Although I think they do historical covers better than contemps.

This snobbery though does come back to bite me in the behind though. I recently "discovered" Kresley Cole's work. Why had I never tried her before? The cover cheese, I just couldn't stand it. I still think she could benefit from someone doing some more tasteful covers for her.

I also avoided Loretta Chase's LORD OF SCOUNDRELS for years because I hate the cover. What a delightful treat it was to read that book!

I should be more open minded, I realize that, and I'm learning. But I'm still pretty judgmental about cover cheese.

Portia Da Costa said...

I'm happy with a nice clinch cover, and I've been lucky with some of my recent ones... I've had backs, fronts, sides even... and all sexy and evocative without being *too* blatant.

I don't really like the really explicit type of covers on some books, mostly ebooks. Even on an erotic book, I just don't want to see acres and acres of oily flesh with nothing really covered except the naughty bits. Even if there's the wildest, hottest sex inside, I still think there's a place for subtlety and mystique on the cover....

Lindsey said...

Great blog, Eve! I too love the clinch stepback. I'm sure I've said it before, but I love Candice Hern's art covers. I also thought Anna Campbell got a great cover for a new author. And the new Cathy Maxwell keeps catching my eye - but mostly because the heroine's head is at the bottom & I always think it's upside down!

I love the cover Sara did for GOB! Which part inspires you most - the part where you're a NYT Bestselling Author or the scruffy Hugh? ;)

Tessa Dare said...

Crystalg - Symbol covers can be lovely! Anne Gracie's "Perfect" series is one example that comes to mind. Very tasteful and elegant.

Marykate - Thanks for welcoming me back! I know what you mean, about being a cover snob. I know I never, ever would have picked up LOS with that cover, unless a friend had recommended it to me. And what a loss that would have been! Incidently, LC's newest is an Avon release - Not Quite a Lady - and I think the cover is lovely. More bare back! The book inside the cover is wonderful, too!

Portia - How great, to have a pubbed author's perspective. I think it's so funny how you say you've "been lucky" with your covers. I've heard variations on that a lot - when it comes to covers, authors seem to cross their fingers, close their eyes, and hope for the best! Eloisa James and I had a great conversation about the different versions her cover have gone through, and the compromise involved.

Lindsey - Sara did a great job, didn't she? NYT bestselling author, indeed. *snerk* I'm really suprised she resisted the urge to put a blurb from NYT Bestseller Sara Lindsey - "Captivating! I didn't want it to end!" ;-) Candice Hern's covers are gorgeous. There's another June release coming from Avon - Sophia Nash's A Dangerous Beauty - that cover is very painterly and elegant.

beverley said...

Hey Tessa,

Usually you give us an advance when you're guest blogging. I just saw your note today.

Oh wow, a special lunch for the Fanlit participants?? I'm loving it. This will be fun.

beverley said...

Great job Sara with the cover. It's great!

Playground Monitor said...

Tastefully sexy... yeah, that's what I like. And I'm with y'all on those computer generated e-book covers. Those characters are spooky. And I'm with Portia on leaving a little to the imagination on the cover. The mystique on the cover makes the heat inside all the more intense.

I nearly spewed my tea all over the screen when I saw the "Bella and the Beast" cover. What a hoot! Guess what website I'll be playing on now?

I've picked up a few books based on the cover, but the back blurb is usually what sells me -- or the author's reputation after I've read several of her books.

Marilyn - madly making plans to fly to her mom's house on Friday

Tessa Dare said...

Bev - wait, wait - did I say a lunch? I swear - anyone reading this at Avon - I did not promise food! For the record, I have no actual knowledge of any event - I just heard it rumored that they were considering it. And I really hope they have one!

Marilyn - that Glass Giant site is addictive! And I agree, some of those CGI covers can be a bit spooky - like Sims screenshots or something. I agree, the cover art never "sells" me on the book - but it is what often catches my eye in the stores and entices me to read the blurb or first few pages.

Monica Burns said...

Hi Eve, {{{{Bellas}}}} {{{{{Michelle}}}}}

Covers...some of them I love some of them I despise. I'll pick up a book specifically if I love the cover, but like our Queen Bella, I have to dig further...what does the blurb say, maybe open and the book and read the first page. Even then I can wind up disappointed.

I love covers that are sensual, sexy and tasteful. I don't mind clinches, and I've noted that a number of Avon's recent clinch holds have been understated and incredibly sexy.

I love covers that are essentially works of art. The cover for Caskie's book is a new technique that I've not seen before, and I like the wrap around piece. I think, for me personally, the cover last year that Nicole Jordan had is one of the best I've seen (Lord of Seduction I think). The richness of the colors, the beauty of the woman's back and the juxtaposition of the man fully dressed I found sooooo sexy.

I don't like a lot of eBook covers either, although I consider myself incredibly fortunate. Eliza Black does my covers at NCP, and I LOVE her work. Obsession is her best cover to date. She's truly gifted.

The one thing I do believe is that covers DO sell a book. My books always sell better if the cover is tastefully sexy or features a guy without his shirt or at least partially open. *grin*

Monica

amy*skf said...

Here I was feeling a little down (just a little) and then I read Eve/Tessa's blog and the lovely covers and am stopped on Bella and the Beast w/Canna--and then I see I won the lovely lustbites contest. Thank you.

I'm with the tastefully sexy crowd--not that I haven't picked-up a book with a bare (albeit shadowed) bottom, but then I've had to hide it, read only at night under the covers. So tasteful is good.

Ebooks sometimes are creepy, but of course it's the money isn't it?

I also don't like it if I can absoluetly tell that one of the parties would never be interrested in the opposite sex.

On a happy note--it's our 9th wedding anniversary today. Yay!

trish said...

I like simplicity, a too crowded cover turns me off. I have put books back on the shelf for that reason, but never really have picked a book based just on the cover...its the blurb that gets me. Clinches on the cover I could take or leave it, I'm neutral.

India Carolina said...

I'm looking first and foremost for an author I love, so Sara's beautiful cover works for me. (What a sweetie to put her time into making some fun for you!)The moment I see the name-Tessa Dare- that book is jumping into my hands!

I don't mind a shirt open or off, but I don't want to blush as I hand my book to the cute guy at the checkout. I love the use of light in the covers. Check out how well it's done in the Caskie cover.

Portia Da Costa said...

Hey, Tessa... now it's my turn to laugh. 'Close their eyes and hope for the best...' I've literally done that in certain instances when I've not seen any advance artwork or anything. The board back envelope arrives, I open it, draw out the flat with my eyes scrinched shut... hoping for the best and sending up a little prayer to the art fairy before I open them again! :)

LizeeS said...

Hi Bellas,
Welcome Eve - what a great subject.
Its lurking Lizee here - I'm still traveling and pop in when busy-ness gives me a chance. I'm actually in the land of Michelle at the moment(!) and have a sec to check in on all your fun - my what I miss when I don't take time to join you.

I have to agree with what Monica said about loving covers that are works of art. I am so attracted to color, shading, melt-in-the-mouth softness whether the subject is model, skin, symbol or even real estate. And, if there's a horse on the cover, i'll very nearly buy it without reading anything else! If there's a horse and a gorgeous man, I'm a pathetic goner!

Personally, I'm tired of the torso-only shots with the faded landscape in the background; a good set of abs is fine, but it's a waste (a waist? sorry) without the eyes. What I really always wish for is some pose or look that comes straight from the book. I know that isn't how covers are created - but I long for a depiction of a part that touched me.

I also love really classy covers - where the model scenes tell a story (like the example you posted, Eve, for Kathryn Caskie's book)or even if there's just attractive colors and classic lettering. If it looks rich, I'm attracted to it.

CM said...

Tessa,

Thanks for the wonderful covers. I hate to judge a book by its cover--but there aren't many other ways available for me to judge it! There are some autobuy authors. There are some recommendations I'll get that will influence my decisions. Some authors, I'll visit their website and see if the excerpt grabs me.

But for the rest? It's all about covers. Usually, rich colors--red, blue (like the Caskie cover) grab me more than the pastels. The Black Dagger Brotherhood covers are great examples of covers that just grabbed me.

Tessa Dare said...

Sorry to bail on you for a while there, bellas! We are having plagues of biblical proportions this morning at the Dare household. It's our first big heatwave of the season here in Cali, and that means the ants always decide to take a crack at moving indoors. Then all our plumbing backed up this morning - help is on the way. I expect the locusts to arrive in time for lunch, seriously.

But anyway ... Amy*skf - glad to hear I'm not the only one having an off morning! And I'm glad yours got better when you won some cool stuff. Congrats on the anniversary!

Monica - so nice to have an e-book author's view. I have a good friend (Ericka Scott) with an e-book coming out at Cobblestone this month, and she said they were great with the cover art. She had lots of input, chances to request revisions, etc. And the cover is gorgeous!

India - I agree, the cover's pretty much irrelevant if it's an author I love or a book a friend has recommended highly. Any India Carolina, for example, will be an auto-buy! But they do draw my attention to authors who are new to me.

Trish - What a great comment, about simplicity. A cover with lots of "white space" or pink space or blue space or whatever - gives the eye a place to rest. To me, it signals a kick-back, relaxing read. A lot of chick-lit books have those kinds of covers.

Portia - LOL at opening the envelope with eyes closed! Although, I can imagine that just having your name on that cover is the biggest thrill ever - no matter the cheese quotient. I wonder what it was like to see your first-ever cover?

Lizees - Horses, hmm? That's one I hadn't thought of! I loved your comment about covers looking "rich." I agree - when there's gold-leaf embossing and rich texture, the book looks more tempting to me. More indulgent, opulent. Or somethin'.

CM - I totally dig the BDB covers. They're hot, but not a sea of skin. And they're slick and glossy and modern.

That brings me to a secondary question - I'm not a paranormal lover. I'd heard and read about the BDB books for ages before I finally bought one. And of course, I was sooooooo glad once I finally did! But those are books that I picked up in the store and looked at probably 5 times, then ultimately put back - and then one day I finally made the purchase. Does anyone else have a book like that? The cover seduces you every time you're in the store, but it takes a little extra nudge to make you actually buy?

Alice Audrey said...

Hi Tessa!

Every time I buy based only on the cover art I regret it. Yet now and then I'll do it anyway.

Alice

LizeeS said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your plagues! What is the household equivalent to locusts? Whatever, I truly hope there are NONE!

I think talking about covers like you're referring to now - ones you pick up and don't quite want to buy - starts to get into personal taste. I will pass over anything with a dark (as in content) look or theme. I'm such a 'gimme the fairy tale' girl that I don't like the look of hard eyes or harsh characters - even if the story ends up being wonderful.

On the other hand, I'm not crazy about the covers going on a lot of contemporaries right now either. Contemp is what I write and I don't like the "chick-litty" kinds of covers with cartoon high heels and stylized modern woman themes.

Guess I'm a cover snob too, mary kate - but it's good company to be in!

Maureen said...

I usually don't buy a book based on it's cover anymore. I've done that years ago and found that it rarely was a good idea. Eloisa James usually has some beautiful covers.

Kate Pearce said...

I've been lucky-I've had beautiful covers from Ellora's Cave and from Virgin 'Cheek', although the first gave me loads of input and the second none at all :)
But Portia is right, there's always that deep breath moment before you open the file or see the cover flat.

The trouble is these days that with so many books out there, a cover can make all the difference to someone picking it up and reading the blurb or passing it over.

Kelly Krysten said...

Great blog, Tessa!
I love the stepback clinch, I don't need funny looks in my dentist's office...I got into the worst situation with this over the summer. The title of a book I was reading, which shall remain nameless, had the word 'sex' in it(I know *gasp*!lol). And I was on an airplane, by myself, and I noticed every man in the vicinity staring at me with intent, lascivious eyes. My vain self thought...wow, I must look really cute today. But then I realized what I was reading and had to pray no one followed me when we landed.lol.
BTW, I love the cover Sara made up for you! Makes me want to read the book even more.

robynl said...

I usually don't buy just b/c of the cover art but am so pleased when I love the cover of a book I purchase. I think covers are a work of art quite often and love the colorful scenes.

tetewa said...

The cover of a book is the first thing that catches my eye. If it is a book that I know nothing about then I will read the back blurb next. These are the two main things that help me decide to purchase a book ifI don't know anything about it. I loved the coverflat for How to Engage an Earl, how sexy! Another cover with a great back shot is Desire Never Dies by Jenna Peterson. Just love those sexy covers.

Maggie Robinson said...

Hi, E/T!

Give me a detail of an actual period painting, please. And now that I know men's shirts don't actually open all the way down but have to be pulled over the head, don't give me the shirt whipping behind the hunk as he stands resolute in the snowstorm.

And it goes without saying: no mullets or girls climbing UP the guys. ;)

Vivi Anna said...

Happy anni, Amy!!!

I'm a cover browser when I'm in a bookstore or even online browsing. I like dark sensual moody covers, not big on the man titty covers, again I prefer my heroines on the covers...damn! I'm so weird that way...and I'm strictly hetero so it's odd. I'm drawn more to a cover with a female model on it especially if she's sporting a blade or gun, or riding a motorcycle, or has heels on and leather...

Lois said...

Ooh, now that was a very cool trip! :) I like seeing any covers; I'm just someone who separates covers and the inside. I don't buy a book based on a cover and I've certainly read plenty to know a great cover doesn't always mean great inside or bad cover doesn't always mean bad inside. The time I might buy based on a cover is, for example if I happen to catch a Regency style cover on a book in a bookstore but it wasn't a book on my list.

Anyway, all that aside. . . I have not gotten a couple of books over my time because the covers were a little too hot. :) But it does annoy me when the cover is hot and the inside isn't that hot. . . and I really can't stand headless people. LOL I just have this thing with people having heads. :)

Lois

Tessa Dare said...

Plumbing crisis solved! Yay! No locusts yet! Now I'll try to catch up.

Hey, AA - You and Maureen make a good point. Every time I select a book solely based on browsing, I usually regret it. It goes something like this. I'm in the store, and I remember that I've been meaning to read something by Molly Mantitty. Because everyone's raving on and on about Molly Mantitty, and I feel like the last person on earth who has not read a single one of her books. So I saunter over to the M's, browse the covers and blurbs of the Mantitty oeuvre, and select one to purchase. Fifty pages in, and I'm skimming. I think to myself, what is all the Molly Mantitty hoopla about, anyway? Then I go on Amazon, and the reviews always say, "Oh, this is the WORST Molly Mantitty novel evah - so disappointing - stay away - start with any other book than this!" I have a special knack for picking up the weak link in an author's backlist, is what I'm saying. That's why I try to research before I buy.

I'm with Robynl - If you already enjoy the book, a great cover is a lovely bonus.

Kate Pearce - happy to hear you're happy with your covers! That must be such a great feeling, to love not only what's inside the book, but what's outside, too. the Avon people told me that some of the authors arrange to buy the original paintings for their cover art.

Kelly K - thanks for dropping by! I know what you mean about the airplane. When I was flying to NYC, I sat next to a guy on the plane. I was reading Beauty and the Spy by Julie Ann Long, and he was reading a popular thriller by a popular guy thriller author (who shall remain nameless, b/c I'm about to make an unfavorable comparison). So here I am, trying to be discreet about my (relatively tame) clinchy cover - but then I thought, that's just wrong. Julie Anne Long is 100 times the writer that thriller guy is. So I flashed my cover with pride!

Angie-la said...

Ya know, a cover may make me pick up the book initially, but if the premise of the book doesn't capture my attention I won't buy it.
I try not to let a cheesey cover influence me, but I have bypassed books by authors who were not known to me based on a bad cover. One must be discriminating when on a limited book budget!! If I am familiar with the author, the cover is never a deciding factor.

And some e-book covers with those computer generated characters are just downright creepy!

alissa said...

A striking cover which is applicable to the contents is what appeals to me. Paintings, scenes from locales and artwork is attrative.

Sue A. said...

Covers with beautiful photographs really appeal to me. They can be photographs of tastefully posed models or something else entirely. I think it has to do with great lighting and simplicity of content.

I've never been enamored of the cartoonish chicklit covers. When I pick up a book I don't want to be thinking of entering a world with no basis in reality.

But overall I'm loving the direction of covers. They just get more scrumptous!

Tessa Dare said...

Tetewa - I think you're right - that cover is all-important in catching the eye - then the blurb is the deal-maker (or breaker). It makes me conscious of how important face-outs are (the books that face out on the shelf instead of showing only the spine.) I confess to sometimes re-arranging bookstore shelves to face out my fave authors' books! Ooh, I'm such a naughty girl.

Vivi Anna - I must say, your covers have the widest range! You've got the artsy Alluring Tales anthology, the graphic novel-ish Hell Kat, the more traditional cover for Blood Secrets... You're in a really unique position to discuss this topic! So I'm guessing I know which is your personal favorite, but do you have any sense for which approach has sold best?

Maggie - So, no redneck mulleted lumberjack in a snowstorm with Babe the Blue Vixen climbing his trunk? Gotcha.

Sara Lindsey said...

E/T (I love it! Phone home!)
I'm not big on clinch covers and, like Maggie, I love the details of old paintings like on the Lauren Willig books.

Tessa Dare said...

Lois - It was a fun trip! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Isn't it interesting how there's often a disconnect between the 'heat' on the cover and the 'heat' in the book? Some of the erotica/romantica covers are tame in comparison to your average sensual romance cover. The headless cover model gets to me, too.

Angie-la - I agree, my book budget doesn't allow for a lot of impulse buys, either. And if I'm going to buy it, I want it to look good on my shelf! (But then, sometimes the cheesier covers can make good conversation starters on the coffee table!)

Alissa - I think every aspiring historical romance author dreams that hers will be the book to get that tasteful, period painting cover. Pam Rosenthal's The Slightest Provocation has a gorgeous cover like that.

Sue A. - Thanks for mentioning photographs. They have an entirely different 'feel,' don't they? I guess since I mostly read historicals, it might feel a bit weird to have a photograph on the cover of a book that takes place before photography was invented. But for a contemp or paranormal, I love a picture of some beautiful people in a beautiful setting.

Here's another question for y'all - How much does the cover affect the way you picture the hero and heroine of a book? I must admit, it affects my mental image a lot, even when I don't want it to.

Tessa Dare said...

Sara Lindsey!

Bellas, that's Sara, photoshop artiste extraordinaire - the one who made me that cool mockup cover for my WIP.

Really, Sara - you want a painting? Don't you want to design your own covers? ;-) I guess you are the art history buff, after all. Do you have a specific painting in mind for PMA?

Vivi Anna said...

You're right Tessa. I've had all sorts of covers...even major man titty with the anthology Sexy Beast which is still selling well and it's been out for over a year now.

Hell Kat didn't sell well...Kensington realized after that the graphic novel type cover didn't sell well to women, but to men. It's too bad really, but that book is very much my signature piece and not very many people got to read it. I personally LOVED the cover. They marketed me all wrong with that book. But I was bought for the Aphrodisia line, although I dont' think I belonged in it.

I love love love my Blood Secrets cover. I think it's so sensual and moody and totally suited the story. And that has been selling like hotcakes.

The Alluring Tales cover I think it very nice, and I like what Avon did for us there, and that book too has been selling well. I'm hoping they keep that same style for us when Volume II comes out in 2008.

What covers do well all depends what market you're in. Overt sexy covers sell well in the erotic/romance and erotica markets. Not so much in the mainstream.

amy*skf said...

OMG--Molly Mantitty. But I know what you mean--I usually never buy impulse, it always has to be recommended, but that's cause I too have a tiny book allowance.

The BDB thing--I had the book for about a month, picked it up twice and just didn't get into it. But then the next time I picked it up, something clicked--They are all on my keeper shelf and are an auto buy.

The cover models sometimes are perfect and other times drive me nuts because they are sooooo wrong. Lizee--were you talking about the eyes, do you guys know the Lori Foster cover--It's one of the Winston covers, with our friend Nathan Kamp--he's looking right at you--or close to it, and you see his lovely eyes and nose and chin. Lovely.

Sometimes I like the headless torso--then I can give him the face I want.

Vivi--I love your Blood Secrets cover--I think they look just like what I pictured the characters as--plus the whole feel of it--the "other-ness" of it made it pop out at you.

anne said...

I enjoy looking at covers that show great creativity and imagination. Something memorable. Not the trite type with clinches. A gorgeous setting which gives the book immense appeal. tastefully done.

Tessa Dare said...

That's a shame about Hell Kat, Vivi. There was a great post on DearAuthor.com the other idea about cover art, which included the idea that the clinch evolved as a branding device. Clinch on cover = satisfying romance inside. And with so much uniformity in the brand, maybe a cross-genre cover like Hell Kat's confuses the buyer?

Glad to hear Blood Secrets is doing so well! Congrats!

Amy, you make an excellent point about the back of the head or the headless torso giving us an opportunity to imagine our own face. I hadn't really thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

catslady said...

I love the clinch covers lol. I also like when they show only partial parts of the face so that I can use my own imagination. I'm not drawn to the cutsey covers but I don't think a cover would stop me from buying a book that I want. It's harder to say which ones actually draw you in.

Anonymous said...

I like the clinch covers, but if the book sounds good I buy it. Even the ones with the really cheesy covers. It's nice though when they have a great cover.


Stacy S

Stacy~ said...

Vivi, I loved the cover for HellKat and was disappointed when Inferno changed. Oh, you've reminded me of some of my favorite covers - Alluring Tales is very sensual, and some of the Aphrodisia covers are very provocative and eye-catching. Lacey Alexander's cover for "Voyeur" is like that. I don't consider it cover cheese, but rather tastefully sexy. To me, cover cheese is the uncomfortable-looking poses and expressions that are overly dramatic, a little too silly, imo.

MK, you must love McNaught's covers. I do, too. In fact, I've posted your "alpha male" definition at my blog, including a very tasteful cover for KoD :)

I don't mind the models' faces being on the cover because if I don't like them, or it doesn't fit the description, I work on exercising the muscles of my imagination, and that can be a rather effective tool. I do kinda like that Nathan Kamp guy *g*

Right now I'm reading "Wild, Wicked & Wanton" by Jaci Burton and I really like the cover - the models' faces, the guy's mouth grazing her jaw, the woman's eyes closed, lips parted, a look of anticipation on her face. A bit sexy, a bit mysterious, and rather tasteful, I think.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Wait. I love Molly Mantitty, and have been dying to write a special retrospective of her career. But the prima donna won't give me an interview. Can you believe it? I offered her a prime GuestBlog spot and everything.

Nekkid backs and headless torsos are driving me a little nutty. The decapitatedness (it's a word if I say it is) seems really objectifying, which says much when talking about a rom nov cover.

I, too am a stepback tart. They seem to combine the best things about the clinch, w/o the cheesiness. But I've said before that I tend to appreciate the clinch more as I get older (and the men I ogle get younger).

But the best cheesy cover I ever saw was for an Annette Blair novel called, "Thee I Love." The book is fan.tas.tic, but as Annette wrote me, "please don't judge a book by it's cover." I don't know, I would have giggled at the cover at the store, but definitely would have picked it up to check out the story.

All in all, I don't pay too much attn to the covers, but when a hot one, w/great graphics and printing, etc comes along, it def stands out. Ward's, Rosethal...

Sorry, Tessa. I thought Goddess of Romance was a retitle for Goddess of the Hunt, a title I loved. scusi.

Vivs: Hell Kat is one of the frikkin hawtest covers ever. Great art and color. Really captures energy of heroine and story.

KimW said...

Welcome Eve/Tessa and congratulations on your Avon FanLit contest prize win.

I love the covers that have a woman in a beautiful gown like you have posted here. I also like the male chest ones. I don't usually purchase a book based on the cover, but sometimes on ocassion, it jumps into my hands at the store. I use the covers more to tell me the genre. If it's a really risky one or a cheesy one, I use a book cover if I read it away from home.

Amy S. said...

The cover is usually what draws me to a book. I like all kinds of covers. lol. I don't think a cover has made me choose to not get a book.

lacey kaye said...

I'm late but I came! Cute cover, Tessa/Sara! and GREAT BLOG :-)

ev said...

ahhh.... finally a moment to get online. I went back to work today and have been on the move ever since.

I got home and two of Daughter's friends came by and helped finish putting up the gazebo. So I had to make everyone dinner after so we could sit outside and enjoy it.

It's hot in the house, but I don't have a lead or long enough cable wire to run outside for the small TV- yet. Then I will sit out there all summer long. Just me and the dogs and one cat. On a leash.

Covers do intrigue me, but they don't usually turn me off from a book. Unless they are gross ones, that will do it.

Have a good night everyone!!

Tessa Dare said...

Hi, everyone!

Thanks so much for chatting with me today. Cover art is a fascinating topic that brings out everyone's opinions. I had a great time on my trip, and blogging has been a means to prolong the high.

I'm just sorry I had these pesky RL plagues that kept drawing me away!

Catslady, Stacy S., Kim W., Amy S, Lacey Kaye (geez, that's a lot of initials), and Ev - thanks so much for adding your voices to the conversation. I think if there's any consensus, it's that we care far more about what's on the pages then what's holding them together.

Michelle, thanks so much for inviting me back! No worries about the title. I've just got this little "goddess" theme going on. "Goddess of the Hunt" is the book you've read, "Goddess of Beauty" is the one in the works (although I flirt with the idea of changing it to "Siren of the Seas"), and "Goddess of Romance" is what I one day aspire to be! It's confusing, even to me. I mostly go with acronyms: GOTH, GOB, and GOR. As in, "Now that I've finished GOTH, I'm starting GOB, and GOR, do I hope I get pubbed one day."

Jennifer Y. said...

I love all kinds of covers...I have never purchased a book solely on the cover...it may get my attention but it is not what determines if I buy or not.

Julie in Ohio said...

I hate being left out of a good time. I'm sorry I'm late but I'm going to throw my two cents in anyway. :o)

Welcome back, Eve!!!!

I'm a (as MK dubbed it) cover snob but will buy a much loved author whether the cover sucks or not. Unlike Michelle, I love the tasteful landscape covers. I find them beautiful. But what I love most about them is that they don't distract me. When there are models on the cover, I keep trying to put them in as the hero/heroine and more often than not, they don't look anything like them. I find that annoying.

Cover artists listen up: If you are going to have models on the cover, make sure they resemble the people in the book.
Sorry, that's a pet peeve of mine.

Looks like you had a wonderful day yesterday. I'm sorry I missed it. The dentist beat the crud out of me. No fun was being had by me. :o\

Julie in Ohio said...

I have discarded books because their cover was too risque. I like my lovin' done in the book not on the cover...

I just recently bought a book because I loved the cover only to find out it was book 5 of a series. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is a problem. I have to read books in order. I had to go to Amazon and get the first four books before I could start the one I wanted...

Minna said...

I like all kinds of covers, except the ones where you have people without their heads, like in that Pleasure for Pleasure book. Makes me think of guilliotines...

Minna said...

But if the story looks good, I buy the book no matter what the cover looks like.

Stefanie D said...

Well, I have to admit that I don't like books with an (according to me) ugly cover. And most of the time I won't buy such books.
But hey, most of the time I adore the covers, so I still have enough books to buy. :P

Julie in Ohio said...

I apologize if my comment sounded pretty harsh. I'm not a cover nazi or anything. I enjoy beauty and of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If I offended anyone, I'm sorry.

kim h said...

hunks are great on the cover. i hope i win lol