Never judge a book by its cover. But we do it. ALL THE TIME.
I am seeing lots of sexy covers on Twitter. Twitter is great for writers. It is a way to instantly draw folks to a link or a website. A writer can flash out a rather appealing picture, to tempt romance lovers to purchase a story.
Let’s be honest. Sex sells things. It just does. It lures people in a way nothing else can. It makes people terribly uncomfortable. It causes extreme debate as there are some VERY different beliefs out there. It makes people angry and…sometimes very lonely and sad.
I’m talking about this because I follow a lot of romance writers. I have written romance short stories and it is one of my favorite genres for reading.
The typical covers of romance novels aimed at straight women usually involve shirtless men, looking manly. Exuding attractive masculinity catered to catch the eye of the lady reader. Real, actual men perhaps role their eyes and even feel a little affronted by the image of these perfect fantasy men. Maybe they do think ‘How the hell am I supposed to live up to THAT for my significant other?’ Maybe they really couldn’t care less.
I can relate to both the insecurity and the ambivalence of how marketing folks, writers, media people etc. portray how we all should look in order to be at our most ‘appealing’. On good days I just roll my eyes at the endless images of impossibly hot twenty something people trying to get us all to buy stuff. On bad days…I feel like punching their stupid gorgeous faces. I get it. I benefit from idealized, unrealistic appeal and I suffer from it as well. Don’t we all?
But back to the saucy covers aimed at straight ladies.
The fellow on the cover isn’t only going to take his pants off at some point in the story. He is supposed to capture the imagination of the reader, make her giggle, make her angry, make her heart melt. He’s supposed to be dashing yet flawed, he’s moody and wildly passionate. Perhaps on some level he is extremely successful.
That is one formula anyway. Or perhaps he is such a good natured, sweet guy, hard-working to the core. Maybe he doesn’t have much but he is so lovely and has a heart of gold. A salt of the earth darling.
And yes, at one point, he will take his pants off for the lady who by default has to be worthy of him AND likable by the female readers.
So, in a way that IS more intimate and all engrossing than a few minutes spent watching explicit footage or images. In my opinion a good romance novel beats naughty movies and reality television hands down.
But the cover aim is rather the same. Look at this. You know you want to. Look at this, spend your money, download it, open it up, get involved.
I am aware of a few romance writers who are established enough that they don’t need the swoon worthy cover in order to attract readers. To some their covers might appear rather dull, just a title in cursive with a colorful background. But by the name you know it is probably going to be good.
I just had to point out that the insides of these covers vary. I recently read a fantasy romance novel (fairy themed) that was pretty quality. It wasn’t the cover on twitter that pulled me in. It was the quote beneath it that got me. It revealed the intensity of the couple’s feelings for one another in a unique, very intimate way.
There is no real marketing formula for that I’m afraid. It just requires imagination and talent. A writer either has that or they don’t. The story I read, involved a lot of imagination and it was pretty funny as well as sensual in a psychological way.
My point is this, covers are great. But much like us real life human beings, behind our physical appearance, no matter how glamorous it is, no matter how dull there could be a whole different world behind the lame or hot ‘cover’.
In this writing era of twitter, blogging and instant downloading onto ereaders, when it comes to the romance stuff…the words should still be louder than the covers. That SHOULD be what still matters.