Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Covers, Covers, oh those sexy, naughty COVERS!

by Jude Mason

Having been around for a little while, I've had an amazing assortment of covers. Some work, some...not so much. I realize that not all artists are gifted equally, the same as authors, teachers, painters,welders, anyone. But, there are some covers that really would be better off left... anywhere but on the cover of a book.

My first novel, Who Races-Who Wins, was published a good number of years ago, and as I was never consulted about the cover art, I truly was aghast when I got this first one. The publisher, who I won't name, chose this cover for me herself. Now, this was a fetish book, but the cover didn't convey the fetish properly, and to be really honest, I couldn't figure out what it even was for the longest time. I also cried when I saw it. This was my first venture into the real world of publishing and I had such high hopes for this book. The genre was femdom, the fetish: pony boys. Okay, so the woman had a bit in her mouth, but for crying out loud, it wasn't supposed to be her, it was supposed to be the guy. I was told hunky men on covers didn't sell. "Say what?" I was flabbergasted.

I did a little ranting, a little crying, some begging and was finally give the cover you see
to the left. It was closer, sort of. Okay, so it wasn't really. Still had the woman in the rigging, no man in sight and it just didn't fit the content.

I got email about it. Nasty email saying the cover was misleading. Hell, I agreed. I'd asked if I could find some artwork for it, or have someone design a cover for me... anything for the right cover! Nope, this was it.
So, I was literally stuck with the wrong cover. The contract was binding and I lived with this for several years.

It was a learning experience and one I haven't repeated.

I do realize many authors don't get to chose their covers. I completely understand that cover artists are busy and there's only so much they have time to do. But, I also realize it's up to me to do all I can to get my books out there looking the very b
est they can be. These are MY BOOKS.

Since then, I've had some amazing covers, created by some of the finest cover artists there are. In my opinion, anyway. There is a gift to designing a cover. The picture has to tell its own story. It has to draw the reader to it. After all, it's the first thing a buyer sees. If they dislike the cover, they're likely going to find something more attractive, more along the lines of what they're looking for. Yes? Well, sure they are.

Now, check out this next cover. What would you think the content of the book is about? Spanking, definitely. Spanking a man... well Hell yeah! He's gorgeous... and again, those are my hand prints, got it? He likely doesn't look like all the men in the book, but he doesn't have to. He's fit, he's facing the right way and there are hand prints where they need to be.

The rest, well you'll have to open the book to find out.
Oh yeah, there are auth
ors names to check out. If you recognize any of them, that's awesome. The editors name is there too, strategically place right under his bum... cheeky Keta. But, it's the man you're looking at that's interesting. And it's what the book is all about, so this is an awesome book put out by Nobel Romance. Other covers! Oh yeah, lots of them.

Let's check out the series Jenna mentioned yesterday. She and I put together a quartet of books based on Bon Jovi's 'Slippery When Wet' Album. (You gotta love that as a title for an erotic series!) She wrote two books and I wrote two. The covers were designed by Phaze's, Michelle Lee and I think she did an amazing job.

Now, I'm prejudice, I know it, but aren't these covers cool. The handcuffs mean something and by the look of who he's being cuffed, it's not for play. This is 'your arrested and going to jail' handcuffing. The shower scenes, well when you read the books you'll get the full meaning of them, but even before you do, you understand that something is going to happen to four men in the shower, in prison. At least that's what I got from them, and that's what Jenna and I planned.

Each cover gives a peek into what the book is about. That's what they're meant to do. When they hit the mark, as the one to the left does, it's an amazing thing. You know this is going to be about animals and a sexy man or two. You know it's going to be hot, just looking at the guy and you know there are going to be cougars, at least, in the book. All of that is correct.

Also, from looking at the background, you can guess the stories are going to take place outside, in the wilderness. Yup, they do and all that comes from a quick look at the cover. Pretty damn cool, don'tcha think? Jenna and I were gobsmacked when we got this one... in a very good way.

Thank you, Total E-Bound cover artist April Martinez. She's an amazing artist and has done several of my covers.

Now, if the cover misses the mark, readers feel cheated, at least that's what I've been told by several. The covers entice them to pick the book up. If the cover is a lie, as the first book of mine was, it's cheating the reader into buying something they're not looking for.

I've been in
credibly lucky with my publishers now and the cover artists I've worked with. I try to give them credit when I receive a new cover and I'd love for you to check mine out. Here's
a link to my cover art gallery.

Sigh, just saying that is huge. I am one very lucky woman. What's your take on covers? Do you think they're important or not? Would you pick up a book with a cover you find distasteful?



  1. I think covers are among the most and least important things about a book. *g*
    "Most" - because that is what the reader first sees, "Least" because if the book (and author) is on auto-buy, the cover matters little.
    After I've got the book, the cover may play a role again - that of verification. If the tall blue-haired girl on the cover should be a short blond male, there is a problem, but other than that, a cover may tempt me to read a blurb I would have missed ... and if the blurb appeals, I'll buy the book. A cover alone won't "sell" me a book, but it may make it less likely I will spontaneously pick it up to look.
    Hope all of this makes sense!
    p.s. I'd be unlikely to pick up the cover with the female prominently featured, as I only read m/m romance. :)

  2. Hi, Jude,

    You've really got some wonderful covers to share.

    One thing I like about the "slippery when wet" covers is the fact that you can see the guys faces. I guess I commented on this before, but it really hit me when I saw these.

    I also love guys with long hair, so the fact that all your cover candy men aren't buzzcut definitely would draw me in.


  3. Great covers Jude.

    I can understand your upset about that first cover. I'm glad it didn't deter you from carrying on. If anything, it seems to have engendered you with a responsibility to make sure your covers are an accurate reflection of what's happening in the text.



  4. Yep, you have some great covers there. Oh, so do I! *G*

    I'm also partial to the Kindred Spirits covers with the inn on the bottom and the hunky men on the top. We just had too many good ones to talk about!

    Oh, and a couple so-so ones. LOL

    Great post!


  5. I would have been disappointed with the first cover. I would have been more interested in a ponygirl and would have felt the cover didn't fit the story for that reason.


  6. I think some of the covers you've displayed are great. I especially like the Untamed Hearts cover.

    Having a cover which is enticing is crucially important in the marketplace.

    Your covers are eye-catching and are sure to attract that potential new customer.

  7. H.

    Yes, that makes perfect sense. The cover doesn't make you buy the book or even suggest to you that you should, but it does attract you or not, and that's a big thing. Thanks so much for sharing your opinion on the topic.


  8. Lisabet,

    I'm so with you. I adore the covers I've had where the man's face shows. It seems publishers have no qualms about showing the woman's face, but often think it's better not to show the man's. The mouth and eyes can be so expressive... sigh.

    And, yes, I really have some amazing cover. *huge grin*


  9. Ash!

    Yup, made me mean and determined to get covers I liked. I have had others I wasn't completely thrilled with, but those two were memorable in that they really didn't do justice to the book. It was about pony boys, not girls. Why confuse the reader?

    Thanks for coming by and sharing your take on this.


  10. Jenna,

    I so agree with you. The covers we're getting for our Kindred Spirits series are amazing, partially thanks to my hubby who took one hell of a shot of an inn close to the ocean. It worked so well.

    We both have been extremely lucky. Thanks for stopping by.


  11. Ray,

    The pony girl was the cover I wound up with for a couple of years. It was disappointing, but I learned something, so I guess it wasn't a total loss. I looked for a long time to find a picture that would fit for that one, and so far, haven't managed it. One day!

    Thanks for stopping by!


  12. Hi Joe,

    I think you're very right, that Untamed Hearts cover is to die for. Yum! Jenna and I were thrilled when we saw it. I'm so looking forward to having that one in my hands. I might not put it down for awhile.

    I have been incredibly lucky with covers and most of mine really do fit the book well.

    Thanks so much for coming by.


  13. Cheeky Keta here!

    Love that Spank Me Twice cover! I think covers are very important (but then I think titles are almost if not more important). Peeps are visual creatures. We often know what we like by what we see. Someone said above they prefer men on the covers because they read male/male -- makes sense.

    The covers must attract. Think of it this way . . . have you ever bought a book and thought, "My Gosh, that's the ugliest cover I've ever seen!" No, you wouldn't buy the book I'll bet.

    Great article, loved looking at all the covers. I've had only one cover I couldn't live with and luckily it was changed.

    Adios for now, Keta

  14. Hey Keta, who has her name on the sexy dude's butt, I tend to agree with you, almost. I have bought books with covers I disliked, but not often. You know, the authors you just buy because you love them no matter what...LOL

    The covers really are a huge part of the package and a great selling tool, if they're right.

    Thanks for stopping by.



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