5 Lessons about Book Covers from Romance Novels

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.

About anthonyrimel

I graduated from OSU in 2008 with a degree in International Business and I am currently working on a second bachelors degree, this time in Journalism. In the time since I graduated I worked a variety of temporary positions in the corporate world. After a long and windy path I settled into an IT position at SUPERVALU where I worked on a variety of communications projects. I quickly began to realize that I was a lot more interested in the communications side of my job than I was about business or IT. Photography and writing have always been passions of mine so I decided that going back to school wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I’ve had a few people ask me why I want to get into Journalism in times where the industry is struggling as much as it is. Newspapers are dying out, TV viewership and book sales are down and the industry is shedding jobs like mad. While this is certainly true and it does seem like a difficult time to be entering the industry I also see a lot of opportunity out there. This generation of students is the one that gets to go out into the world and be pioneers that will shape the future landscape of media. The old industries are dying out or drastically changing but people are consuming more media than ever. While it is certainly a difficult environment it is also a time of tremendous opportunity. Students today are the ones that are going to be inventing new ways to bring the world it’s news and being involved in that is tremendously exciting to me! I’m here to write about Journalism, talk about my current experiences as a student traveler and observer of the world.
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1 Response to 5 Lessons about Book Covers from Romance Novels

  1. Haha this is great! So many romance book covers border on the absurd, which is a shame because sometimes those same covers hide great stories. This is a guide that more romance publishers should pay attention to!

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