I said, “Yes, Loose Id does really nice covers.”
She said, “I mean I like your book covers.”
“Thank you,” I said. The kudos of course belongs to the Loose Id Cover artists, who I think are very talented. April Martinez has done most of my covers, Ginny Glass did one, and Fiona Jayde did the Spring Fling (Disciplinary Measures).
Covers sell books. Yes, even ebooks, because when you’re scrolling through Amazon, what do you see first?
The cover. It, along with the title, stops you and says, “Hey, look at me!”
I believe a cover should to be “accurate” in describing what is inside the book with respect to genre and tone so the reader is not unpleasantly surprised. A cover that looks “sweet” but contains graphic BDSM content is not an accurate cover. Conversely, a “sexy” cover with G-rated material is misleading also. Readers will feel cheated in both cases. A cover should not promise what the book does not deliver. The heat level is one part of tone, but so is humor, poignancy, and a number of other factors.
A cover should convey the (sub)genre because often the title doesn’t. Is it domestic discipline? Erotic? BDSM? Paranormal? Contemporary? Historical? Particularly with historical fiction, I’ve seen indie books that were way off with respect to the period represented. And if a book is a erotic, it still needs to be tasteful to avoid being dismissed as “porn.” There is a difference between erotica and porn.
When the cover doesn’t mesh with the content (as judged by the blurb), I feel a disconnect that leaves me with a slightly negative impression that makes me disinclined to buy the book. I’ve never bought a book because I liked the cover, but I’ve skipped over many that left me feeling, “meh.”
I personally like simple covers. I don’t like a cluttered background. I think some covers try to do much and end up looking so busy that the eyes can’t rest. When a reader looks at books online, they’re not in an art gallery — they’re on the freeway. Think of a cover like a roadside billboard. They’re speeding along (scrolling through Amazon) at 65 mpr–they don’t have a lot of time to stop and study the nuance.
But simplicity needs to be distinctive. Your billboard needs to stand out not only by itself, but from all the other billboards. Which is one of the things that I like about Loose Id’s covers. Each one is distinctive. There is another excellent erotic romance publisher who does lovely, quality covers–but the covers look interchangeable to me. You could take the cover off one book and slap it on another and never know the difference. Loose Id’s aren’t like that. After working with several different publishers, I think Loose Id has the most detailed cover art form–the one that authors fill out to give the cover artist direction.
Sometimes I have been shocked by my own covers. When I first saw the cover art for Unexpected Consequences, my reaction was, “it’s so out there,” then I thought, “well, it leaves no doubt as to what the book is about!” Then came False Pretenses, and it didn’t even faze me. Body Politics turned out different from what I had expected, but it worked for me (after I thought about it for a while). I see it as the most symbolic of all my covers. (A post about symbolism here.)
Of all my covers, Reckless in Moonlight is the most direct rendition of what is in the book. I said one does not have the time when scrolling to study nuance, but Reckless in Moonlight has a lot of tiny details that apply directly to the story (the moon, the evening, the swimming pool in the background, the two sexually exhausted lovers).
Based on cover alone, tell me which one of my Loose Id covers catches your attention and tell me why. Post your comment and enter a random drawing to win a $5 Loose Id gift certificate. Be sure to leave your email address. I’ll draw the winner’s name this weekend so you’ll have a couple of days to enter! (Team Cara Bristol members receive double entries).
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Domestic Discipline Week/Shark Week continues on Loose Id Author JA Rock’s blog. Today she interviews a real life DD femdom couple. It makes what I write seem quite tame! Other posts: Pauline Allen on self acceptance, Fabian Black on bratting, and me on DD & feminism.