Let’s talk book covers (and enter a drawing)…

Cover by April Martinez. The first Rod and Cane book.

At an Ozark Romance Authors meeting, writer and fellow member Amanda Buxton said to me, “I looked at your book covers on Loose Id. They’re the best.”

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?

Cover by April Martinez. Older woman, younger man romance.

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.

Cover by April Martinez. Rod and Cane 2.

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.

Cover by April Martinez. Rod and Cane 3.

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.

Cover by Ginny Glass

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).

Cover by Fiona Jayde. Rod and Cane 4. A Loose Id Spring "Fling."

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).

Check out Loose Id’s other covers here.

* * * *

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.



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14 Responses to Let’s talk book covers (and enter a drawing)…

  1. Jane says:

    Body Politics, without a doubt.

    I, too, like clean and uncluttered and the composition and colour choices that the artist has made when creating this one are excellent. The red skirt against all that darkness really helps it to ‘pop’ and catch the eye, as does the little hint of it on the male model’s shirt.

    The font? Easy to read and matches perfectly.

    Strange as it may seem, given that I’m a sex blogger, I like a bit of ‘tease’ in my covers – I’ll always lean towards those that scream sex appeal without being too overt. This is a perfect example of that; the models are fully clothed, no faces, and yet the positioning absolutely suggests hellishly hot things upon the pages within. (Reminds me a little of Colin Lane’s photograph for the cover of The Strokes’ album, This is it. http://alexander-ayres-photography.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/colin-lane-strokes.html)

  2. Casey McKay says:

    I also like the cover for Body Politics. I think it’s the red and the fishnet material she’s wearing. I also like Unexpected Consequences because it’s very sexy without being porn-y. Yes, I know, I chose two, I’m not good with rules! And I agree the Loose Id covers are all very sexy, but without being ‘cookie cutter’.

  3. I like Body Politics. I think the red really pops and the man’s hand could be spanking or maybe not.

    Interesting post. Covers are tricky and I think another thing to consider is how it will look as a thumbnail on Amazon when it is listed with other books. It seems like you ought to be able to read the title in the thumbnail, but they are listed below so maybe just a good cover that catches readers’ attention is better.

  4. S. J. Maylee says:

    Great post, Cara. I’ll be getting my first cover soon. I can’t wait, but I’m also so nervous. I’ve filled out my sheet which had a lot of great questions. Fingers crossed. 🙂

    I’ve always loved your covers. I love how varied each one is. It’s really hard to pick. The pink in your site has always brought my eye to the False Pretenses cover, but I adore the sexually exhausted lovers in the Reckless in Moonlight cover. I love them all too much, lol. 🙂

  5. Lina Sacher says:

    Unexpected Consequences.

  6. Lina Sacher says:

    Oh right and why – because ASS and the hand there… It’s pretty obvious what is going to happen to that ass. It’s to the point and pretty. Maybe kind of raunchy-ish. Sort of.

  7. Love all the covers they are all super and fantastic, hard to choose which is my favorite.

    Destiny’s chance she looks like she is wearing her very tight jeans and walking shaking her naughty ass teasing everyone with it

    False Pretenses with the paddle striking the ass is nice touch

    Unexpected Consequences with that hand hitting the ass and grabbing it love that

    would love to see these made into videos too based on the books

  8. Renee Rose says:

    I like Unexpected Consequences. It’s hot. It could be erotic, could be disciplinary, etc.

  9. Karla Doyle says:

    You do have great Loose Id covers. My two favorites are Reckless in Moonlight and Disciplinary Measures, I suppose because I’m partial to covers with sexy/romantic couples.

    I can’t wait to see what they do with Breeder!

  10. Thianna D says:

    I love Destiny’s Chance. It yells fantasy to me, which is one of my favorite genres. And once you read the blurb, it becomes even more attractive.

    I will admit, I am not so much for the ‘in your face’ covers.

    Cover creation is definitely an art and each author/each artist/each publisher has a different feel for what they want to put out there.

  11. AMBuxton says:

    I would have to say (and its a touch one) Unexpected Consequences. The cover its the tone and subject matter, doesn’t show the characters’ faces (which I hate cause it kills the place-holding ability of the characters for the reader), and is simplistic but with the right amount of detail.

  12. Jillia says:

    The Unexpected Consequences cover is my favorite.

  13. Cara Bristol says:

    Congratulations to Thianna D. By random drawing she is the winner!

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