Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cover Preferences

Most m/m e-book covers can be divided into two groups - the hot, nekkid man-titty covers (i.e. typically bare chests with the guys' heads cropped out of the image) or covers that include the guys' faces. I love man-titty covers, don't get me wrong. Three of my four released books have them, and I even asked for naked man chest for Object of His Desire's cover. I think historical covers are more difficult for cover artists because there aren't that many images of hot men in period clothing in the more popular online image databases. So when I fill out my cover request forms, I usually give the artist the out and indicate that man titty is fine and dandy with me. Plus, I firmly believe that hotties on a cover do attract a reader's attention to the book, and perhaps some of those readers will buy the book. A cover is, after all, a marketing device. However, the cover artist (April Martinez) for Convincing Arthur surprised me and not only put clothes on my heroes, but also, and more importantly, showed their faces. And that cover has become my favorite of all my books.

So what about you? When it comes to m/m book covers (not my books, but books in general), do you have a preference? Are you in the headless man-titty camp, or do you prefer to look your cover hotties in the eye?


  1. One of the first things I ask for in a cover - regardless of genre - is skin because sex sells. However, if given a choice (something that rarely happens) between a cover with or without a face, I'd pick the cover with the whole man. As hot as abs and buns can be, it's nice to see a little more.

  2. No preference. I ignore them all pretty equally. LOL

    I notice them if they're amazing or horrible, but the rest barely ping my radar. I'm more interested in the title and the blurb. Sometimes a very noticeable cover will inspire me to click on a book, but if the blurb sucks I'll pass.

  3. Very good point about skin, Amanda! And I agree - a whole man is definitely better than just hot abs and buns. ;)

    Hi JenB - I can't not look at covers. I can't help it - I like shiny, pretty things. LOL. And it's wonderful to hear that you're more interested in the title and blurb, which an author has some control over versus a cover, which authors usually have little if any control over.

  4. Skin puts me off. Perhaps it's ok if you have an ereader and the cover doesn't matter if you are on the bus but I want a cover I can take out in public, and one that will intrigue the other people on the bus that they might want to read it. Both as a reader and an author. Publishers keep saying - or rather, I keep hearing that "publishers say" that skin sells, but I haven't had that experience with my own books. Frost Fair is flying off the shelves with the new covered cover desinged by Alex, and that's for a book that's been out a year with naked men on it.

    For me I want to look at a cover and see what the book is ABOUT. Skin just says "it's about sex" and gay fiction isn't all about that - or at least not for me.

  5. I like faces because faces have personality, whereas most chests are pretty much interchangeable. It's a lot harder for the cover artists to find the right faces, which is presumably why they often don't bother, but I feel that skin on its own probably helps to contribute to that feeling that we are objectifying gay men etc that the recent kerfuffle was all about. Besides, for me, faces are just more interesting.

  6. Hey Ava..

    What a great post - I totally agree with you and Amanda "sex Sells" - put a carrot on the cover in the right position and it will sell..

    That said - I am partial to head less covers or non-body imagines because I am a big on the imagination sort of reader, I like to form my own idea of what the protags would look like, and despite every best intention - once a face sits on a cover it sort of sticks in the mind...

    I am one of those purist of historical as you realize from my reviews - if you are going for any true to form covers - get some clothe on those guys and sex up the other aspect of the cover, positioning, facial nuances etc.. but historical with Nekkid bod's never really does it for me...

    On your book - Convincing Author - I thought this was well presented - even the arrogance in the detail is defined.. the only let down on that cover is probably the house - wrong house... But Author and Leopold- Spot On...

    Contemp or other genre M/M - I am good with both...

    I agree with Erastes - Sometimes skin is not the best way to go..

    Good topic today Ava...


  7. No face but anything else goes for me. I have the guy's or guys' faces in my head so the wrong face on the cover is just a disappointment. Yes I know its the readers who matter but covers I've had that I didn't like still haunt me.


  8. Ilove either type of cover as long as the faces are of attractive guys. But one of my best covers has just a chest.

  9. I'm a huge cover lover and most of the time I would say give me the man titty but there are always exceptions to everything I say I like. Many a cover artist has blown me away with something "different". So maybe I should just say I like quality, well-made covers. :)

  10. Hi Erastes - For print books, I don't usually go for x-rated or explicit covers, for the very reason you mentioned. Oh, and I love the new cover for Frost Fair!! Alex did a fab job with that one.

    Hey Alex - I agree that getting the 'right' faces is likely why most covers don't include them. Like Barbara mentioned, the wrong face can throw a reader off. I've heard publishers say that the models on covers don't necessarily have to match the characters. Their point is that covers help to sell books, and readers haven't read the book when they are making a purchase decision so they don't know, for example, that the hero is actually a blond when he has dark hair on the cover. But I personally don't like it when the models don't resemble the characters. Like EH said, the image will stick in my mind when I'm reading the book, and it's annoying when it's the wrong image.

    Hi EH! Thanks for stopping by. So I need to get some clothes on my men? LOL. Clothing for a historical book can really help to convey the time period, and since I've gotten CA's cover, I've definitely come to see the benefits of less skin and more 'attitude'. I even asked for clothes on my next cover ;) We'll have to see what the artist does with it, though. As for the house on CA's cover...yeah, it's totally wrong. But it's better than the original version (a spooky looking house at night).

  11. Hi Shawn - oooh, they must be attractive. :D And I totally agree with you about the cover for The Best Gift - love that one!!

    Hi Eliza - different is definitely good. :) Like you, I've been blown away by some covers that are not the norm. Quality is very important. I've seen covers that were practically all skin, but not well put together. Skin alone doesn't make a good cover. Poorly done nekkid covers can be, well...unappealing. LOL

  12. You're right about faces being really difficult, Ava. I was thinking of it from the POV of someone who was able to choose the guy on the cover myself (because I do some cover art myself). But from the perspective of someone who just has to put up with the cover they're given, I probably would prefer headless to the wrong face!

    Ideally I'd want something like the cover of False Colors, where the models they chose looked almost exactly like the characters as they were in my head, and they dressed them in the right clothes. But that's probably a bit of a fluke, and given the typical cover budget, it's not surprising that most cover artists can't spend hours and hours trawling through stock art sites looking for the perfect picture.

  13. Hey Ava,

    Okay, I admit to being a huge fan of the man-titty cover, headless or not. But I agree with everyone else, if the face doesn't match up to how I perceive the character, its really distracting. The other benefit of having the head cut off(Lol. That sounds a little serial killerish)is not having to worry about that same model's head popping up on a gazillion different book covers. I hate that!

    Great blog by the way. I'll have to stop by more often to browse and enjoy the eye candy. ;-)

  14. You know, only recently did they start cropping off heads on covers.

    I've come to realize that the cropping of the heads may be a be a good thing because the model's faces get stuck in your mind. I like to imagine how characters look with a combination of the author's description and my own imagination.

    Unfortunately, I've seen so many Nathan Kamp covers that usually the main squeeze ends up looking like him, lol <----see what I mean about faces getting stuck in your mind, lol?

    With Convincing Arthur, I actually pictured the characters looking as they do on the cover, though. I happen to like the cover. (I think the guy on the right is such a cutie)

    Now, for me, the man-titty pics are hit or miss because I'm really picky when it comes to nips, lol. Not for anything, but I've seen some pretty scary looking ones :O I know, it's horrible, but true.

    That pic you posted above is quite nice, though, I must say ;D

  15. Hey Barbara!!

    I'm really picky when it comes to nips...
    LMAO!! And scary looking nips are rather horrible, especially when the nips are supposed to be erotic and you end up going - 'ooohhh, that's not attractive'. LOL

  16. Hi Jodi!

    It does sometimes seem like the same small group of hotties are showing up on a fair amount of covers. Going serial killerish on the poor dudes does provide a nice solution. Torsos are harder to pin to a specific model, unless it's a distinct pose.

    And thanks! Glad you enjoyed the blog :)

  17. I don't know if I have a preference between heads or no heads. One thing I always say is I like a little hair on the chest!! But that never seems to go over well with everyone ;)

  18. I like full bodied, clothed (or at least semi- clothed) good looking men in a great background.

    headless bodies are kinda...creepy.

    (But of course, I would love to see some hairy chests. Hell, I'd love to see a teddybear or two on a cover for once! Big hairy guys need love too!)

    Alas! I know that is the minority, and it will be a cold day in hell before I see one on a m/m cover ... cuz like you say, sex sells.

    george allwynn

  19. Wishy-washy answer warning! :)

    I agree with some that the eye candy ones let you fill out the hero in your mind's eye to match your vision of the total package.

    At the same time, it's sometimes nice to see "real" people on covers, and there are some great covers out there that really grabbed my attention (altho blurbs and excerpts are what actually sell me).

    Ironically I got the proposed cover art from my Dec release last week, and it was a "portrait style" of the two clothed heroes. Fortunately they were close enough to my mental image to live with, and I hope that will work for my readers too. So that's three or three on my releases having heads, lol!

  20. Hi Mandi & George! Ah, the great hair debate. LOL. I usually go for the smooth chests on m/m book covers, with the lovely little line of hair running from their navel down to their... :) But, some guys just look damn hot with some hair on their chests. The guy on the cover of My Fair Captain by JL Langley has got some hair going on (though he's been clearly man-scaped), and that guy is YUM!

    Hi Devon!!
    So that's three or three on my releases having heads LOL!!! And the two heads I've seen are mighty fine, too. ;) Oh, and you must share your new cover as soon as you get the final version. I'm itching to see what they did for Silver and Gold. I do so love cover art *G*