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:
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:
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:
But there are others that… I do not understand, frankly.
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.)
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!)
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.
Not the least of which is whether lightning is something I need to actively worry about now.
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?
Tongue of course.
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:
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?