With Valentine’s Day here again and the stench of love in the air it’s time to discuss a certain type of book: romance novels. Romance novels often have a poor reputation and at least part of that is due to their covers. The top results for a Google search for “romance novel covers” reveals a variety of mostly fake novels with titles like “The Lord of the Hissy-Fit.” Sites like BoingBoing have pages dedicated to fake romance novel covers. While a provocative cover could in theory grab reader’s attention, it could also lead to many people avoiding the book out of sheer embarrassment. How can authors avoid having their book’s cover turned into a joke? Just do the following five things:
1. Avoid the Fabio Look
Long flowing hair and leather pants may have rocked the 80s, but nothing will date your book faster than having Fabio-esque men on the cover. Whether or not women today are still into his look may be debatable, but these covers will surely drive more hip readers away.
2. Don’t have your cover look like it’s a scene from a deodorant commercial
“Sex sells” is a marketing adage as old as time. However, the line between sexy and silly is thin indeed and with books it’s better to err on the side of caution for the simple fact that books stay around for a really, really long time. Imagine finding your own book in a library 30 years from now. Would you be happy with the look? See item #1 for examples of mistakes that only become apparent after enough time has passed.
3. Don’t be too bland
The corollary to #2 is to avoid images that are boring. Whatever genre you are publishing in the first thing that readers will see is the cover, and like it or not, people do judge books by their covers when it comes to deciding what to read. Titles as proactive as “Born in Fire” and “Born in Shame” deserve better than this cover.
4. Chose a cover that is timeless
Whether you love or hate the books one thing is undeniable about the Twilight novel’s covers: they aren’t bound by a particular era’s ideal of the attractiveness. Books are supposed to be timeless. Different looks and conceptions for what is appealing go in and out of style. Don’t let your book become a relic of another age because you chose to have a trendy “now” cover. Don’t be a Fabio.
5. Simplicity Sells
This book by Emily Giffin made it onto the New York Times Best Sellers List with it’s simple, clever, and colorful cover. The title with a ring substituting for the “o” introduces the story and helps to bring interest to the book. Covers like this are deceptively simple, and covers that are both eye-catching and timeless are hard to come by. Again, a thin line divides simple from boring, so choose with caution.
This list is intended to be humorous and the author claims no special expertise in book marketing besides being a life-long bibliophile, and he readily admits to not having read any of the books displayed herein. No criticism of any person, especially Fabio, is intended.