Monday, September 10, 2012

Do You Pay Attention To Book Covers?


Congratulations to "Dana M.", the winner of  Trish's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

Before I self-published Forged in Fire, I never paid attention to book covers. 

 In fact, most of the time I didn’t even notice the cover. I bought books based on recommendations and author recognition. If I recognized an author as one I’d enjoyed in the past, I would pluck the book up and check out the blurb. Or if I recognized the book title as one a friend had liked, I’d buy it. Covers never entered my buying equation.
However, I knew that my buying habits were an anomaly. I knew from chatting with fellow readers that covers did have a huge impact on most reader’ buying habits. I also knew from talking to published authors, that a “bad” cover could kill a book’s chances.  So when I decided to self-publish I started studying the covers of the top selling books within my sub- genre. I realized pretty quickly that the top authors working in the military romantic thriller sub-genre had a hot guy with a gun on their covers. Which makes sense in a way; military romantic thrillers tend to be herocentric books. And since the covers focused completely on a male figure with a gun, the covers reflected this herocentric focus.  

Of all the covers I looked at, I liked Maya Banks’ KGI series covers the best.  Not only were the heroes on the covers hot, but they were upfront, in your face, not hanging back in the distance.  My favorite of the KGI covers was Hidden Away. I loved that cover.  Those bare forearms were amazingly sexy. And the model looked like he’d gone through hell, but wasn’t done kicking butt yet. 
So when I hired my cover artist, I told her I wanted the focus of the cover to be a hot guy with a gun. And I wanted the cover model to looks slightly dirty, like he’d been through hell. She spent several days looking through stock sites before she found the perfect model and went to work. The cover she eventually provided me with proved to be highly successful. I’ve received dozens of emails from readers who admitted they bought the book solely because of its cover. In fact, the cover was so successful, when I sold the series to Montlake Romance, they wanted to retain the original, so they hired my cover artist to tweak the original as well as design the remaining covers in the series. 

Forged in Fire’s cover got so much attention I secretly worried that we wouldn’t be able to come up with a comparable cover for the rest of the books in the series. Well, I’m happy to report that my brilliant cover artist out did herself and created something stunningly sexy for Forged in Ash, the second book in my Red-Hot SEALs series.  He’s exactly what I was hoping for: sexy and all smudged up. J) Not only does he look like he’s walked through hell, he looks pretty pissed off and ready to kick ass. It’s my favorite cover to date.
So, what about the rest of you? What covers snagged your attention and had you clicking the buy button? Any covers that stand out as being particularly effective? Comment for a chance to win a $10 dollar gift certificate to the online book retailer of your choice. 

And don’t forget to enter the contest Norah Wilson and I are holding! One lucky winner will receive a brand new, 64 GB iPad 2. You can find details on how to enter here. http://tandnsbiggiveaway.wordpress.com/

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 11th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

56 comments:

  1. I must admit that, being primarily an eBook buyer surfing Amazon for new books, recommendations or the latest book by a favourite author have the most impact on my buying decisions-- they get me to read the back copy and decide from there. In fact, since Kindle books open right at the beginning of the book, I don't even notice covers!

    Now, if I'm in a bookstore, I will definitely pick up a book and read the back copy if the cover catches my eye. I read a lot of romance and a lot of romantic thrillers, so the cover needs more than simple naked man chest (though, admittedly, that's never a bad sight :P) to catch my eye. Those covers for the Red Hot SEALs series are gorgeous!

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  2. I usually look at the covers first. Hot guys always catch my eye. I'm a sucker for a hot seal, fireman, cop, cowboy.....you name it!! Maybe I just like guys that dress up....lol!!! Will definitely be checking out your book now that I saw the cover. Thanks for the contest!

    sara_mcdaniel81(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  3. Hi Trish, Of course, I love the cover of FIF, and I double love the cover of Forged in Ash! But what first made me buy your book was reading the opening--and I can't remember how or where I first came across it. For my book, I was able to have input on the cover, and I knew I wanted a hot guy and his love interest, plus a gun. I've always loved what the cover artist came up with. But, is that kind of cover as alluring to RS readers as just a hunky guy? I'd be interested to know your opinion as well as everyone else's. (My cover ad is here on the JRS sidebar this month. And, I'm still waiting to receive my pre-ordered paperback copy of Forged in Fire--not so patiently :)

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    1. Mal, so glad to hear the blurb for FiF sold the book to you. I spent days agonizing over that thing. It's nice to know all that tweaking and polishing paid off in the long run! :)

      I think each sub-genre in romantic suspense has their own kind of covers. Your cover suggests a traditional kind of RS to me- more of a 50-50 split between romance/suspense. Heroine centric RS- meaning focus is more on the heroine's growth. Covers that have both hero and heroine always suggest this kind of a book to me. So if this matches your book, I'd say the cover is very effective.

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  4. I buy books from authors I like. The cover is not that important. I will get a free kindle book on Amazon if I like the cover!

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    1. And once again I forgot my email as if it matters

      yenastone@aol.com

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    2. Ah ha, Tammy. I think as of now there are more people who buy off author than cover. Interesting, thanks for sharing!

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  5. Covers always get my attention. Stephanie Tyler's Shadow Force series has some very hot covers. Also Jaci Burton's Play By Play Series- my teenage daughter swears I drool when I look at those. I bought Trish's book because the cover got my attention!

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    1. Michel,

      Jaci Burton's Play by Play series has some of the hottest covers out there. Lots of exposure for her books just because of those covers.

      Delete
  6. Covers definitely grab my attention, but I only buy the book if the blurb sounds like something I would enjoy. Love the variety of covers to be seen... the sexy men, the scenic ones, the dramatic ones... I will say that some have actually turned me away... just something on it that I do not care for...

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    1. Colleen,

      You bring up two great points. One, that the cover may grab someone's attention, but odds are they won't buy the book if the blurb doesn't do its job.

      But also, the wrong cover can actually turn readers away. I've had some covers that were an instant turn off for me too. I took one look and didn't even bother to click on the blurb. If the cover is a mental turn off, you've lost the reader right there.

      Delete
  7. I am attracted to shiny things, so covers definitely catch my attention. When I first started reading romance, Christine Feehan was just gaining in popularity, and I loved her shifter covers (I was heading towards vet school at the time). Nowadays, I pay attention to covers that stand out from the rest of the romance book cover crowd, but I still have a soft spot for the lone hero silhouette.

    julieguan AT gmail DOT come

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    1. July,

      I do a lot of surging Amazon's various lists, and I've discovered that for me color is a huge draw. The books that catch my eye are ones with a splash of color. So yeah, I guess I'm drawn to shiny and colorful. :)

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  8. Nice covers. I like Gena Showalter's covers.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks bn100, I'm not to familiar with Gena's covers, I'll have to check them out.

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  9. Yes, I do look at covers first, but most the time a bad cover will not keep me from buying the book if the words on the back cover get my attention. I use covers to give me a hint of the type of book it is: paranormal, historical, contemporary, danger, etc.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

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    1. Great point Brenda,

      A cover does need to let the reader know the book is a romance, but also what sub-genre of romance it's in.

      Delete
  10. I must admit I tend to buy books through reading reviews or already having purchased a book by the author.....however...book covers either in shop, online or kindle will draw my attention to go on and read the reviews whereas maybe a non attractive cover(sorry to say) I would probably ignore.
    Now as for my Favourite......Woah too many to mention, Cindy Gerard and Roxanne St Claire are among my fav's for book covers....but my all time favourite has to be 'Breaking Point' by Pamela Clare...took me forever to open that book ;-) lol
    aunt1esam@hotmail.com

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    1. Oh yeah, Breaking Point was one of the covers I studied while I was educating myself on the covers that worked in my sub-genre. :) Some very enjoyable research there. O-O

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  11. I don't pay much attention to book covers and certainly don't buy a book because of it's cover. My buying depends on the author and the blurb on the back of the book.

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    1. I used to only buy off author and blurb, but these days I'm finding that a strong cover will catch my eye- at which point I check out the blurb. And then the reviews.

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  12. If I recognize the author, I will read the blub on the back. Otherwise, the title or the cover have to catch my attention in order for me to pick it up and read the blurb. Since I am buying more online these days, I will look at some the the books that other customers have bought.

    jaclynlavigne@yahoo.com

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    1. Yes, I think the switch from browsing in bookstores, to browsing online has made the cover more important than ever. If your looking to try a new author, then something has to grab your attention. If the cover or title doesn't grab me, I don't bother clicking on cover to read the blurb.

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  13. I have a long list of autobuy authors - it doesn't matter what the cover looks like. If I'm in a bookstore, a cover may induce me to pick up a book to check out the blurb on the back.

    With ebooks, I've seen the same cover for different books, so I've learned I need to pay attention to the title/author.

    jtcgc at

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    1. taurus,

      With my auto-buy authors I'd buy them with no cover at all. I already know I'm going to get a good story. When I'm browsing for new authors, is when the quality of the cover comes into play.

      But you're right that there are alot of the same covers/ or cover models being used for multiple books. When I published Forged in Fire, there were no other similar covers like it out there. But within weeks another book (one from one of the Big-6 houses showed up) and within months there were four other covers all using the same model. There are so many authors combing the stock sites these days it's hard to find a model that hasn't been used for multiple books.

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  14. While I enjoy looking at a hot guy on a cover, I do not buy a book because of the cover. It will be because of the author/back cover blurb.
    k(dot)cherub2011(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Oh yeah, the blurb definitely needs to carry it's weight. :)

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  15. Cris,
    I'm the same way. There are so many books out there I tend to shop on recommendations and author recognition. If I've liked the author in the past, I'll pick her/him up again.

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  16. Sara,

    There is little doubt that hot guys on covers do sell books. :) Those hot guy covers also tend to get shared/chatted about the most, which means they get more buzz. Right now everyone is talking about Jaci Burton's new cover- Playing for Keeps. Lots of buzz about that cover, which means people are seeing the book.

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  17. I would say the cover draws me in but the blurb on the back is the deciding factor on whether or not I get the book. But holy hell, the book could be written in Finnish and I'd buy yours strictly for the covers! WOW! My favorites for covers are probably Cindy Gerard & Stephanie Tyler. Oh and Lori Foster's newer stuff. Please enter me in the drawing! wlweddle at gmail dot com.

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    1. Whitney,

      You made me laugh with the Finnish comment. LOL. I never buy a book without reading the blurb either. The cover simply encourages me to click to read the blurb. I did really like Stephanie Tyler's covers too. Hers were some I studied closely. LOL

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  18. Covers might draw me in, but it is the summary and the reviews that sell me on the book. Since I don't like to read erotic romance, sometimes if a cover is too risque for me I will read a lot more reviews before deciding on the book. Other than that, I really like covers that have both the hero and heroine on them. It helps me visualize them both better and many times we are in the heroine's head just as much as the hero. I also enjoy covers that are just pretty and eye catching. Some of my favorite covers have been Misty Evans' covers for her Super Agent series and Kaylea Cross' books. I think your cover showing the guy being roughed up but still coming back for more fits military romantic suspense genre (my favorite genre). Thanks for the post!

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    1. Amy,

      The cover for my paranormal romantic thriller Yesterday's Child has both the hero and heroine on the cover, for exactly the reason you mentioned. The book is more heroine focused, than my Forged series, which focuses more on the men. Kaylea has very sensual covers, I think her covers do a great job of branding the types of books she writes. :)

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  19. I love book covers! Over the years, I have found several "auto-buy" authors just because I fell in love with a cover and bought the book. I own the website, Cover Cafe, which sponsors an annual romance cover contest. I critique covers all year long and there are some definite trends in the romance genre. The most popular covers either spark a memory for the reader, have a very good looking guy on the cover, or a fierce female defending her world. They might also have feature lush landscapes, or couples embracing passionately or showing the fun side of love. Gorgeous gowns, great shoes, pets, and a toned physique are always popular in romance. And finally, one person's favorite cover may be the next person's least favorite cover.

    So far this year, my favorite Contemporary covers are Jaci Burton's "Playing To Win" and Karen Harper's "Finding Mercy". They are very different from each other but their execution is flawless!

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    1. That's very true Linnae,

      Like everything about reading, covers are very subjective. What might catch one readers eye, will turn another reader away.

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  20. WOW... you do have absolutely stunning covers. And... that's what first drew me to Forged in Fire which I have purchased and am getting ready to read :) But!! I bought it b/c the blurb caught my attention more.

    I'm a bit ashamed to say that I am/was a cover slut. I go for the prettiest, most colorful, more outlandish covers when I'm in a bookstore. After ogling it for a bit, I'll then flip it over and read the blurb. I do buy based on the blurb, but the cover is what got me to look at it in the first place. And I've discovered some now fav/autobuy authors that way. With the closing of Borders, I now do most of my book buying on Amazon. So the reverse is true now. I look up books based on recommendations and reviews from the blogs I frequent and if the blurb catches me, then I buy. Since I don't have the book in my hand, the covers aren't as appealing. But... even though it shouldn't matter to me (especially for my kindle), there have been some books I've skipped over on the "if you liked this, then you'd like this" section b/c the covers were so awful. I've gone back and looked at the descriptions only after I've read a good/decent review. It shouldn't matter but in a small way, it still kinda does for me. I guess I figure... if the author took the time and effort to make sure the book is packaged nicely, then the book itself should be good too... faulty logic I know ;) So... fav covers... yours right now!

    efender1(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Erin,

      You bring up some really great points. I do think there is an immediate judgement of a book by the cover. No matter what we'd like to think, people do judge the book by its cover. So an awful, or amateur looking cover will make me wonder whether the writing is just as raw, because like you- I immediately wonder what the book will read like, if the author didn't care enough to give it a professional looking cover.

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  21. I have to admit, if I don't like the cover, I won't pick up the book. I also love the Maya Banks' covers for KGI. The books are great too. :)
    Your covers are also very good. Hot guys sell book...or at least, hot guys sell books to me.

    danao.b7(@)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Dana,

      I think hot guys sell books too. If the cover doesn't appeal to me, I won't pick up the book either. Or at least, I won't pick it up if the author isn't one I'm familiar with.

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  22. I do judge/buy a book because I am attracted to the cover. I like one that shows suspense elements.
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. Janet,

      Yes, I think the best covers hint at their sub-genre too. In my case romantic suspense or romantic thrillers.

      Delete
  23. I read a book because the blurb not the cover, but sometimes a great cover could snag my attention so I will pick it and read the blurb. usually I don't like much On Your Face Sexy covers but prefer the model wearing clothes and looks sexy, sometimes I found the model with tux is sexy. ;)

    pinglecoon at gmail dot com

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    1. Oh yeah,

      A guy in a tux can look incredibly sexy.

      Delete
  24. I read a book because the blurb not the cover, but sometimes a great cover could snag my attention so I will pick it and read the blurb. usually I don't like much On Your Face Sexy covers but prefer the model wearing clothes and looks sexy, sometimes I found the model with tux is sexy. ;)

    pinglecoon at gmail dot com

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  25. I do have a habit of looking at cover first. If they don't catch my eyes, I usually walk past them unless I already am familiar with the authors. I already like your Forge series and plan to purchase them.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thank you Kai! I hope you like them!

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  26. I generally go by reviews and summaries before selecting a books, but the cover definitely catches my eye. I think the cover for "No Hero" by Mallory Kane is one of my favorites and since I have enjoyed other books by her and liking the premise described in the summary, I figured I would like it, and I did! By contrast, a book with a dull cover that I read recently and loved was Advice of Counsel by Debra Trueman. It's got a legal pad styled cover with a scale of justice and a pair of high heels, which to me suggested a legal thriller, but it turned out to be more of a romantic suspense and it's told from the hero's POV. I think a cover like the ones for Julie James books would more have more accurately convey the kind of book this little gem was.

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    1. The way you described the cover to Advice of Counsel, I would have expected a legal thriller too. She could be losing her entire audience if the book is a romantic suspense.

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  27. We have an email entry...

    Dear Trish, I am initially attracted to a book by it,s cover. Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, so, seeing a tough looking sexy man on the covers signifies to me that this book is going to contain plenty of action in all areas, Mind you, after reading the blurb, I have not bought books despite the great looking covers. I really enjoy reading your books, so keep writing. Thank you ,Ann.

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  28. I love these action covers. The cover on Hidden Away and Forged in Fire are great, sometimes the heavy muscle guys don't look quite as real though like in Forged in Ash. I guess I don't need the optic over stimulation, LOL...would love to win, thanks...lsscarchuk@att.net

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  29. I do judge a book by its cover. I love the cover for A Lovely Indecent Departure.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  30. I am a total cover lover. I will buy a book, just based on the cover. The book usually is great, so not disappointed. Some good ones have been Kat Martin's Against series-6 books so far-yummy. Lori Foster's Men of Honor series-yummy especially A Perfect Storm. Lori was awesome and sent me a shirt with that cover, I wear it all the time, my husband complains, I tell him I am just advertising for a cool author. Jaci Burton's Play by Play series, Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series is a good one. Lauren Dane's Chase Bros series, some hot guys on those. Those are my top favs I could think of, but I am sure there are many others.
    Thaks for the giveaway. Some good books could be bought with the gift card.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

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  31. I love those stepback covers you see for historical romances from Stephanie Laurens and Loretta Chase.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

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  32. I haven't bought a book because of the cover in a long time but my favorite covers are the historical fiction stories that have those beautiful gowns on them.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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  33. Hi Trish - I was like you as a reader - I hardly ever looked at the book cover - especially of I knew the author or it was recommended by a friend . When I self published my first book I did the same thing and looked at the covers of my favorite contemporary romance authors - Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, Debbie Maciomber - and designed my cover in a similar way.

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  34. I'm a sucker for a kick-ass heroine on the cover & also a heroine in a billowing gown.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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