As a romance author, I look at lots and lots and lots of romance book covers. (Did I mention I see TONS of them? 😉 ) And, of course, like any art form, they’ve evolved over the years. Just in the short time that I’ve been indie publishing (since 2011), I’ve seen quite an evolution in indie book covers. I don’t know what drives changes, although I’m sure part of it is someone who is sensitive to market changes figures out what works and what doesn’t, makes changes accordingly that in turn get good responses, and everyone else follows suit. Or it might be just the opposite. As I said, I’m no artist, so I have no clue.
But I digress.
The point is I’ve looked at lots of romance covers over the years. While there are variations on the theme, there are two main types of pictures that clue in a reader that she’s looking at a romance book:
- A hot guy on a cover (usually—though not always—shirtless). This picture generally attracts the female reader who wants to read about a hot guy. And, yes, there’s usually a relationship in the book and the hot guy is part of that relationship.
- The couple cover: a man and a woman, often in an embrace, sometimes wearing clothes but often in various states of undress (partial or mostly!). Sometimes super steamy, sometimes sweet. But the couple signifies a potential relationship—a romance novel.
Yes, there are variations. There are sometimes women on the covers…or a gray tie (you know the one I’m talkin’ about)…or two men and one woman…or a high heel…or a wolf and a full moon! But the easiest way to signal to readers that a book is romance (or erotica) is with the picture: if you see a cover of a shirtless male or a couple in an embrace, you get the picture!
You, as a reader, have probably formed some of the same opinions I have. Maybe you have sometimes wondered what was going on in the heads of the models when the photographs were being taken.
But let’s talk about those couples.
Back in my youth, one of my college majors was theater, so I performed in a lot of plays. We actors made the romance seem real to our audience. But we were up onstage, which might have been drafty and cold but we also performed under hot lights which could make it uncomfortable. Somehow, the guys always wound up hot and sweaty by the end (I was usually okay temperature-wise. LOL). We were in stinky, musty costumes (many that weren’t laundered often) and under heavy pancake makeup. While we might have looked glamorous to the audience, I assure you that, up close, we were anything but! I hated having to do love scenes. These guys would be kissing me, dripping sweat, smearing their makeup onto my face, and I had to act like I was enjoying it. Ugh. So my acting was good, but I assure you there was nothing truly romantic happening.
But movie actors’ experiences are a little different. Yes, they’re nervous as hell (and sometimes nude, something I never had to do onstage), but it’s usually not like theater. They do take after take sometimes of the same scene and they have lots of chances to get it right. If the guy is dripping sweat, a crew member can wipe it off and reapply makeup before the next take.
So what about models?
That’s a job I’ve never done. I don’t know what it’s like, but I can imagine. I think back to my moments onstage where I had to act like I was in love and anticipating a sweet kiss when, in reality, I was grossed out. And that’s what I’m thinking about when I look at some cover photos. Even though models are looking nice and doing pretty poses, they’re still having to act to a degree. They have to act like they’re in love or in lust; they sometimes need to look like they’re turned on by or in love with the person they’re paired with. So I sometimes wonder, thinking back to my experiences as an actor, what if, as a single gal, I’d been paired with a guy I’d been lusting over—and he hadn’t been sweating and wearing stinky stage costumes? What if, even feeling a little nervous, I found him intoxicating? If you’re having to mimic arousal and an attractive guy’s hand is on your breast, what happens next after the camera is off?
Those are the questions I ask…and, eventually, a story grows out of them.
That’s the premise behind Picture Perfect…and it’s live today. It’s a novella, and if you happened to buy the anthology Forbidden Love, please know that this is a larger story, three times bigger than the short story you read there. And it’s 99 cents!
Want to know what happens after the camera shuts off? Find out now…
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0779CVVQW
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0779CVVQW
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0779CVVQW
Barnes & Noble: LINK FORTHCOMING*
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2zOUgUe
*On my side, Barnes & Noble says the book is live but when I click their link to the page, the site says it can’t find it. This has happened before. It will be available sometime today; unfortunately, I don’t have a link right now!
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