Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Why are these happy people running from the chapel?

Well, because they’re Married in Haste.

Posted by Christine

The cover controversy continues. For some truly terrible covers and hysterically funny cover gaffes, check out Christina Dodd’s recent Squawk Radio entry. Yes, our own Susan was “honored” to be twice among the examples of when bad covers happen to good—or even great!—authors.

And I really like Jenny Crusie’s theory of cover design. Jenny proposes that a good-to-great cover must catch the eye, be pick-up-able, and represent the story.

And this leads us to why I’m posting my own cover above? Well, I mean, beyond the main point that the book is out this month and I’m shamelessly flogging…

Because sometimes a cover is not aggressively bad or embarrassing. Sometimes a cover is just…okay. And is just…okay enough to help sell a book? I think not.

Luckily for moi, this cover has a flash that says Bravo Family Ties. I’ve been writing about the Bravo family for a long, long time and I’m honored to have a lot of loyal, wonderful readers who follow the Bravo family saga, so this book is likely to do just fine no matter the cover.

But does this cover have all three of the Crusie cover design essentials? Well, not really. What it does do, in a very literal-to-the-title sense, is represent the story. There’s a chapel, she has a wedding bouquet and they’re definitely “in haste.” And it is pick-up-able, because of the flash, at least to all my fabulous readers. And because there’s nothing ugly or “wrong” about it. The guy’s sort of hunky and the girl looks like a person you’d want as a friend.

But is it eye-catching…?

Well, not especially.

And why not?

One word. Simply: no tension. These people are too happy and they are running forward, not even looking at each other--well, she's not looking at him anyway. He's looking, but he's getting nothing from her. And what does that imply? That he's totally beta and hangs on her every word and wish, is not the least conflicted about being her love slave and doesn't care if she knows it? Or maybe, simply, that she's not as interested in him as he is in her? Either of the above is...not what we're goin' for in a contemporary romance cover.

I think all great covers have tension. Tension in the sense of a hint of the conflict. Tension in the sense of something “happening,” something in the image that intrigues us, makes us want to know more.

And don’t be misled by the word tension. Tension can definitely have humor and warmth in it. It can be dark—but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

Here, I was planning to post some examples of covers with good-to-great tension in them. Unfortunately, Blogger is not cooperating. So I'm cuttin' it short at this.

So that’s the, er, Rimmer theory of cover design. What about you? What do you love to see in a cover, what makes a cover irresistible to you?


At 8:57 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Chris, I totally agree. This is a good cover, though. Could have been worse--as evidenced by Squawk Radio!

For me, if I like the title, I'll pick it up and read the back. The cover doesn't so much influence the buying decisions. But I am curious about what everyone else has to say about this!

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Kim said...

Hi There!

Covers aren't really important to me. I look more at the titles...however, my kids like to buy me books for the "gift giving" opportunities at our house (bday, valentines etc.). THEY definitely look at the covers. Hubby doesn't let them buy anything too steamy--pets and kids are big winners for them.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

I love the title, Chris--at least it has tension. I'm looking at my covers hanging on my wall and I've had some good, some great, some ugly. quite similar to another author's on this loop!

Check out Susan Mallery's MARRIED FOR A MONTH (scroll down):

and then my book, FIRST COMES LOVE (scroll down):

Serediptity...since these were from two different publishing houses. My editor thought perhaps they'd both been inspired by a magazine ad that was around at the time.

I think they're both creates tension to be head over hells in the backseat of a car. (hee hee)


At 4:16 PM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Getting the cover right is certainly an art...and a place where things often get messed up. I can't define what drives me to pick up a book by someone I don't know, but cover is a part of it. Cover and title. We all know the thrill of having a "great package." It can really make or break a book.

Can a great cover sell a book? I think so.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Hey Chris, I like this cover! I certainly see your point about the lack of tension but I was thinking I'd pick it up because they look...happy. Is that weird? Okay, we've already established that I'm weird...

But this was a really interesting topic! And I hope Blogger doesn't screw you up anymore. I want to see more covers!

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Testing, testing. I've lost three comment posts so far. blogger is so eating them.

But I'm trying again.

Kate. Interesting thing is I've been told that the cover department *is* trying to do happier people for Special Edition. Their demographics say happy works for that line.

Apparently, from the responses I'm getting here, they're right.

See, so much for my theories... LOL

Christie, I remember those matching covers. Talk about a coincidence.

Kim, yes, I can see what you mean re the spicy covers for gifts from kids...I think not!

And Susan, so true. For a first time author, a cover/title package is a very big deal!

Oh, that's right Maureen. Forgot to mention you were "honored" on Squawk Radio, too--for the cover with the man with no lower body. EEEK!


Post a Comment

<< Home