Pre-Made Ebook Covers of Some Awesome But Also Doom

While I was in Melbourne last month, I prepared a talk – with slides, which is always fun – about the romance industry and reading community in the US, and included some cover art. I did a general image search for something contemporary (because yet again I couldn't remember the title of something) and came across a designer's site that had a gallery of pre-made ebook covers for sale.

Most of the bookcovers for sale were around $40, and I was completely fascinated by the covers. I tweeted a bunch of them, but I wanted to show them here, too, because while there is some straight up crazysauce crimes against Photoshop, there are also some terrific cover images that portray people of color. Granted those people of color seem to be partially absorbed into other people, but still. 

Let's have a look – and please note, this is SO NSFW:

Distance premade cover - a woman who possibly might be Indian posing against a male torso - and her arm is partially dissolved into the torso


This is the one that caught my eye first – because the heroine is beautiful and not white. 

Then I took a closer look and… well, her elbow has dissolved into his crotch, he appears to be lifting his belt to dislodge her, and her arm is half-embedded in his abs. 

Clearly they are Meant To Be Together. What Photoshop has joined together, let no man or woman put asunder! 

There are so many other covers on this site, some of which are pretty spiffy and would make for interesting book covers. For example – I rather like this one:

A black and white photograph of a woman with a cropped shirt with a man behind her placing his hand on her hip lightly the text of the title is purple and creates an interesting contrast


And this cover as well, Though I'm not sure if she's under the covers or meant to be under a snowbank or maybe a snow-covered bunker in the front yard:


catching a billionaire a woman of color under a blanket or a snowdrift with a dude snuggling next to her



But there are others that… I do not understand, frankly.



Deep and Penetrating premade cover - two dudes and one is clearly going down on the other though you can't see anything below his nose because the banner obscures his face


I can't for the life of me figure out what's going on here, can you? (Also: mad props to the designer for an outstanding placeholder title.)


The title is hot hot hot but the O is dissolving and the man's back musculature makes it look like he has as giant vadge for a back


Forget back fat. Or even back vadge. What you want is back uterus diagram. That is where it's at these days. (Also: what weight exercises does one do to develop back muscles that prominent? Good gravy!)


Meeting Reynolda two women in pink tanks and panties with one parallel to the ground, her leg extended and somehow merged into the leg of the woman standing up. I'm not even sure how to describe this. They are perpendicular to one another and joined at the knee and hip joint?


On one hand: Hey, now! Two women!

On the other hand… is she levitating? Is her leg merged at the knee joint into the standing woman's hip? Is this a yoga pose from the advanced partner yoga class I've never had the gumption to try? When you meet Reynolda, is there gravity? And whose shoe is that behind the “g” in “Meeting?” 

I may have hit my quota of question marks. Which is a problem, because I have a lot of questions. 


One dude standing in a small black bathing suit with another dude on his shoulder, bent backwards so his head is behind the standing dude and his legs are in front plus there is no lie a lightning bold going through the crotch of the man who is balanced on the dudes shoulder


Not the least of which is whether lightning is something I need to actively worry about now.


a headless shirtless man wearing a feather headdress  and a woman that looks to be dressed in Victorian clothing with a lot of eyemakeup looking up at him


I think his nipple is looking at us. Shhh. Nobody move.

(Also, I think he is meant to be Native American. I'm not sure, though. It's very subtle.)

Finally, Amazon and other retailers have all these rules about erotica covers and adult content in the cover images, as I learned in a conversation with Mandy Roth after I spotted the same two models on three different covers awhile back. No bare booty, no nipples (on women – “flat male nipples” are of COURSE ok), no ass crack, etc. 

So, if you're trying to convey that a book is erotic with just one glance, what can you do? What body part can you use that hollers across town THIS BOOK HAS A LOTTA SEXXYTIMES IN IT? 

weekend away - two people embracing at the top with both of their tongues reaching out of their mouths toward one another


Tongue of course. 

Lick Baby a close up of a woman licking a spoon


a black and white close up of two people about to kiss with the dude's tongue extended out of his mouth like he's trying to catch a snowflake


Lots of tongue. Lots and lots of tongue. 


To be honest, while some of these covers made me very confused (why is his abdomen eating her arm?), there are others that indicate this designer has a great eye for stock photography and cover composition, in particular for mystery and thrillers, for example: 

Love is Not Enough - close up of attractive couple above a banner title Shattered a gold hued photograph of a woman broken into large offset pieces


Ebook covers are definitely an evolving medium, and they change a lot – especially as more graphic designers begin to create covers for various genre markets. The artwork has to be identifiable in a small size, and not distorted or bizarre when enlarged, and that is not easy task (witness, for example, magical sunbeam ghost dog and the accidental dong). As more authors self-publish backlist and new titles, hiring designers or doing the work themselves, it brings a new set of images that indicate romance (enough tongue, though, please). 

What covers have you seen that made you do a double-take, good or bad? 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Sarita says:

    Fourth one down, preeeety sure that there is a blow job with a blur filter/title obscuring the action.

    Also, hello! I’ve been reading this blog for years and this is the first time I’ve worked up the nerve to comment.

  2. 2
    Kat says:

    Remember the computer image covers of the early-2000s? I think all of these are still better than those!

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    @Sarita: HI! Welcome to the comments!

    And yes, there’s no doubt there’s a BJ going on. Also, the giver of said BJ has had his nose distorted by a rogue tool, it seems.

    @Kat: Ah, Poser. Poser was a gift that kept on giving. It still gives—in reduced numbers though.

  4. 4

    Thanks for highlighting my work on your blog!  I loved the article and you do have a great sense of humour!

    I’m pretty proud of my premades though – they are some of the best on the web and a bargain at $40!  Plus you will find that unlike other premade sites that just use stock images and drop text on top – making it very easy to get duplicate covers when someone else uses the same stock image – my covers are usually a combination of two or more images, which make them unique creations.  Not all of them are supposed to be realistic photographs…

    All the best,

  5. 5

    Forgot to add…about 5 of the covers you are displaying here are from my sale stock at just $16 each!

    A bargain!


  6. 6

    And that man is just resting his head against another man…that’s all!


  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:

    @Melody: Welcome! I loved how many of your premade cover images featured people of color, especially in contemporary and historical settings. Definitely a strength of your portfolio.

  8. 8

    Thanks…my multi-racial and African American covers sell out fast – unfortunately I think the shortage of premade covers in these genres in general is also due to the scarcity of suitable stock images with AA and mixed-cultural models and couples.

  9. 9
    Jennifer in GA says:

    Sarah- your link for the magical sunbeam dog is taking me to a mail-order bride site. I appreciate the offer and all, but I’m already married. To a man.  ;)

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    @Jennifer: That is weird! I’m sorry! It’s working for me – can you email me the link that you’re getting?

  11. 11
    Mayweed says:

    “had his nose distorted by a rogue tool” made me snort coffee on my desk.  Thank you.

  12. 12
    Diane says:

    For some reason I’m mesmerized by the lipstick in the last row, first cover: Love is Not Enough.  Do you suppose this is a variation on The Tongue?

  13. 13
    Daena says:

    I do a weekly search for new releases.  During the summer I found a lot of covers reused; I actually keep a folder on my computer to collect the images.  I found one image with slight difference on 6 covers. The images themselves are fine (I haven’t studied them closely); I’m just surprised the same image is used on so many covers.

  14. 14
    Maite says:

    Once, through means I cannot remember, I found a page (livejournal? tumblr? blog?) that had weird Polish book covers. Page was in polish, so I have no idea if there were any explanations, but there were this two covers that I saved as images because I knew I would think them a dream otherwise.
    1)There’s a volcano explosion in a coast under that thick disaster fog. That’s the background. There’s a hand rising from the sea doing that metal salute thing (fist with index and little finger extended) which is receiving lightning from the sky.
    2) A face which has wings growing out of the eye sockets, with two mouths in the background, which show teeth.

    I still want to read the first book, if only to know what the hell it’s about.


  15. 15
    Jennifer in GA says:

    Sarah- the link is correct now. How I ended up on a mail order bride site is beyond me.

  16. 16
    Selena Blake says:

    All I can say is “wow.” Some of those are really confusing, and not in a good, hey-check-this-out way.

  17. 17
    smlundberg says:

    I snorted lots. I also really liked the “Love is Not Enough Cover.” I’d read that book!

    Also wanted to give props to the cover artist, Melody, for being a good sport (and also for the limited and reasonable way she turned it into a sale opportunity). Authors and future featured artists: take heed!

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