Is it age, over-saturation, or personal preference? I don’t know, but what I do know is this: my tastes for cover art are out of sync with the majority.
A quick glance over the bestseller list for contemporary erotic romance reveals a lot of bare chested hunks.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of big chests. I adore washboard abs as much as the next het chick.
But…a cover that simply features a hot, half-nude muscled dude gazing intently into the camera doesn’t say “read me.”
I love covers that show the relationship between the main characters.
And right away I’ll share the exception! Because I’m contrary like that. Lady in Waiting is a (mostly) FF story. The male character is a douche and I didn’t want him on my cover, and I didn’t find a FF picture that felt right. This image from the public domain captured the “feel” of my submissive lady’s maid perfectly. If – when – the cover is redesigned, I’ll be looking for an image that shows the relationship between my female characters.
Another (weird?) thing: I prefer clothed, partially clothed, or just-about-to-disrobe people on the cover.
I write at the smutty end of the erotic spectrum, every story filled to bursting with a writhing mass of sex. And yet. A tiny part of my mind imagines the characters know we’re watching them, that we’re observing their naughtiness. Imagines they’re keeping a few scraps of clothes in place to heighten our arousal or preserve their modesty.
I worked with a talented cover artist, the lovely Cheeky Covers, on the design for Their Wish List. The picture is quite PG-13, right?
So why do I find this tableau so unbearably erotic?
Near as I can tell, it’s the promise of passion inherent in the slowly lowering zipper. The bare hint of cleavage. The way the mens’ shoulders and chests strain against their shirts. They’re utterly engrossed in each other. The looks on their faces, the way their bodies angle toward one another, they way her hand cups their necks…more exciting than any amount of exposed skin.
I can hear it now. The very sensible comment, “But if you want your books to sell, you should…” Exactly the reason publishers don’t let authors design their covers!
But I’m self published, my peeps. Until that changes, I’ll continue to choose cuddling and canoodling clothed lovers for the covers.
Though I am going to work with a cover designer from now on. They have the talent to get even untrendy pictures to sparkle.
(See all my ebook covers here.)