Welcome to my new blog series, Let’s Talk, where I’ll be dissecting all the parts of a romance book from the covers to the characters. I’ll share some of my favorites, talk about pet peeves, and discuss why each element is so important to the overall story.
To start this blog series off, I’ll be talking about book covers because as much as we might tell ourselves not to, we often judge a book by it’s cover. I’m a very visual person and I might have an unhealthy obsession with cover images so this is a topic that really interests me and maybe you too? Every reader has seen the gamut of book covers from the truly terrible to gorgeous-stop me in the stacks-I need it now covers. We all know that the cover can really influence whether or not we look any further into a book. Sometimes, a not so great cover is hiding an amazing story or visa versa, but either way those first images we see can really set the tone for what we think about a book.
Covers can also create immense frustration when they don’t reflect the story we’re trying to enjoy. I would say covers are getting much better about this, but I remember a time where it was commonplace to read a book about a blonde hero with a beard, only to look at the cover and see a clean shaven brunette. Or when you see a cover that looks sugary sweet and the story is dark and angsty. Enter pet peeve #1 when it comes to book covers.
Now everyone has a different opinion on what attracts their eye and this I’m sure is one of the big challenges for book cover designers. As someone who has been reading romance novels for almost 15 years now, I’ve seen A LOT of change in cover design and for the most part it’s been for the better, so kudos to whoever is responsible for giving me such wonderful images to look at!
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To me, the tone of a book cover sets the reader up for the story and if you’re a mood reader like I am, you want to know you’re getting the mood you want. For example, Annabeth Albert’s #gaymers series have some of my favorite covers because you know exactly what type of book you’re getting. There’s hints of gaming and nerdy icons and all the couples are embracing in some way and the love and closeness just jumps off the image. The models are also front and center with both being included instead of a solo model, which reflects the strong character driven relationships that Annabeth Albert writes about.
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I’m a sucker for books that are intensely romantic, so when I saw Tammara Webber’s book, Easy, it immediately caught my eye. I was scrolling through books on a retail site, so many choices and images running past my eyes and this one stood out. I love the close up image because you can really see the model’s emotion and that gentle hand on the woman’s face just screams romance! We also get a hint of bad boy with the man’s hair and the tattoo on his wrist. All these things pinged in my mind in the seconds after I saw the cover and it was enough to make me click the page for more. This is why a good cover is so important; I was only planning on buying one book during that search and this was what I chose. I really enjoyed the story and Easy is in my top favorites, so that’s a bonus, but either way, a different cover might have meant I overlooked this book like all the others.
Another one of my favorite covers that stood out when I was browsing online, was Hard as it Gets by Laura Kaye. The sex appeal jumped off the cover for me and I knew I would get a steamy read. We also have some tattoos on the man’s body and the series name of Hard Ink which all set the stage for a tattoo themed book. This cover also struck a personal note because I love to come up behind my husband and hug him from behind. There was no way this designer could have know that, but it still made a connection for me. I was not disappointed with this story and since this was the first in a series I ended up buying and reading all the books that followed. Again, just because I saw a book cover that caught my eye.
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When it comes to series, I feel like book covers take on a whole new element. I want books in a series to match and be cohesive and most importantly, not change half way through the series! Enter pet peeve #2 because we’ve all been in that moment when the new book comes out with a cover that doesn’t match and we know it will just ruin everything. Whether it’s the physical books on your shelf or the images on your ereader, seeing that change is just awful and if you’re like me, you start twitching, so let’s just avoid this issue if at all possible.
I’m a huge fan of Anna Hackett’s books and her covers are some of the best I’ve seen, especially when it comes to a series. There’s a consistent theme, pattern, and color across the series and I can’t deny the models are always gorgeous. They also set that all important tone, as mentioned above, for the reader. In the case of the Galactic Gladiators series, you can see that these books are science fiction and action packed. Each series by Anna Hackett has it’s own look and I won’t lie, I love going through this section of my Kindle and seeing each cover.
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There are lots of ways a cover can grab someone’s attention, from a ridiculously sexy model to an eye catching layout. But one of my favorite ways is through the use of color because it can lead to truly beautiful covers. Sometimes that color can be consistent across the series so that each book features a cover in say, black, red, and white (Twilight I’m looking at you). Or the color can be different on each book to create a uniqueness for each title but an overall connection through the rest of the layout and theme. My favorite example of color is from Scarlett Cole’s Second Circle Tattoos series which utilizes black and white images with a pop of color. When I first read The Strongest Steel it was the only book available in the series and I loved the cover from the beginning. But as each new book came out, I fell even more in love with the covers! There’s just something about them that really speaks to me as a reader and makes me want to read them.
Going in the opposite direction, color can be used in abundance to create rich and vibrant covers that are guaranteed to draw the eye. I am so in love with the covers for Alyssa Cole’s new series, Reluctant Royals, because they are stunning in their use of color. With a single color background and beautifully patterned dresses, my online scrolling came to a screeching halt when I saw these. This is truly how you mix and saturate colors in the best way!
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No matter what you like in a cover, a reader always knows when they see it and it’s almost like a tangible thing that reaches out and stops them from going any further. This is why book covers can really make or break a book and I’m sure this is a constantly moving target as new interests come into play. So for all the the covers featured in this post, credit goes to the designers, marketers, publishers, authors, or whoever else was involved in the creation process. You are amazing!
Come back in March to check out the next in the Let’s Talk series where I’ll be looking at book titles.
Do you judge books by their cover? What are some of your favorites?