Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Does Funny Look Like?

I've been gazing at the cover for my April release, The Sexorcist, (because those are some highly gaze-able abs, baby). It's got me wondering: What does my cover say to you? (Hopefully it says Pick me up and take me home with you! but besides that...) Light/dark? Playful/sensual? Paranormal? What do you think the story is about?

I've been pondering the mysterious art of romance covers. I feel I should preface this by saying I have the utmost respect for cover artists and I profess to know nothing of what sells on the front of a book. I'm just a reader and a writer. Marketing ain't my thing. I once heard Sue Grimshaw (of Borders True Romance fame) talking about cover art and my mind boggled at all the ways her definition of a great cover differed from my own.

You see, I want something that captures the feel of the book. Something that gives me a sense of tone. Playful book, playful cover. Serious dark story, serious dark cover. Sensual, body-parts-a-flyin' book, well then lets see some body parts a-flyin' on that cover!

But, from what Sue Grimshaw said, I'm not so sure others share my cover preferences. So I'm asking: What do you look for in a romance cover? Sexy manflesh? Something demure that won't embarrass you at the checkout line? A couple in a torrid embrace? An iconic image like a flower or a high heel? What catches your eye when you're browsing your bookseller of choice?

My cover has manflesh in abundance, and there is many a manflesh cover out there that would lend credence to the idea that manflesh sells... but would you believe me if I said The Sexorcist was a paranormal romantic comedy? Does it look funny?

I've been thinking about what humor looks like on the front of a book and I'm curious about what others see when they look at covers. I've grabbed eight books of similar genre to my own from the last few years and slapped their covers down below here. Judging these books purely by their covers: Which one looks funniest to you? Which one would make you pick it up and flip to read more? And (perhaps most importantly) which one would you be most likely to shell out your hard earned cash for?

Ready? Here are the candidates!



What say you, romance readers? Let the social experiment begin!


Jamie Michele said...

Hi Vivi!

I'd pick up "Gentlemen Prefer Succubi" first, but only because it's a totally disconnected image. The guy is rather serious, and so is the font and styling, but the title is clever, and the quote says we'll be kept laughing. I'd think it was a comedy based on that, but I wouldn't be sure. I'd pick it up just to see what the heck was going on with it, but I'd be wary. Very wary. Also, does he have a watch on? I can't stop smiling at that crazy dude!

Great cover for The Sexorcist, BTW. You always get great covers, though! Does it take place in a scary old house? Love me some sexy stories in scary old houses...

Vivi Andrews said...

Thanks, Jamie! Samhain always gives me such pretties.

There is actually no scary old house in the book (though there is a haunted house in the Ghost Exterminator). The background is supposed to be a church I think (since there's a wedding chapel in the story).

The Gentlemen Prefer Succubi cover reminds me a lot of Kresley Cole's IAD covers. I wonder if that's what they were going for. It's like his shirt cannot stay buttoned under the influence of his gale-force hotness. Poor shirt.

Anna Richland said...

This is a great post - interesting that all the books are similar genre but the covers (and titles) are all over the place.

Large dark tattoos don't usually say romantic comedy to me, except when I'm swimming laps and the tattoos are on a guy with 2.5 Hanna Anderson wearing girls clinging to his shoulder, and then I think Arnold Schwarzenegger/Kindergarten teacher syndrome. The leafless tree on your cover doesn't say comedy either - it announces dark, wintertime and death.

Most of the other covers you included do proclaim comedy - all the cartoony ones, although they seem so interchangeable. And the ones with punny titles say "comedy" from the title even if the cover art is hot/serious/dark.

But I like your cover a lot - the guy is hot, of course, and clearly that must sell. I also like the house/building in the background b/c that makes me think there is a "place" in the book rather than a black amorphous cloud on the cover.

Vivi Andrews said...

The variety is interesting, isn't it, Anna?

I'm also intrigued that you're drawn to the "place" on the cover, since I tend to gravitate toward books with the amorphous clouds. I think I like the lack of specificity because it gives me room to visualize the setting on my own. Funny the different things that catch our attention, isn't it? :)

Kate Diamond said...

Big Fan of #3--Must Love Dragons. Perhaps that's because I've read the book? What makes that pop for me, though, is the fact that it's so clearly a Warner Forever cover and I tend to like everything that line puts out. Less about the comedy. More about the branding.

Favorite phrase of the day: "It's like his shirt cannot stay buttoned under the influence of his gale-force hotness. Poor shirt."

Vivi Andrews said...

I can't be an impartial judge of the funniness either, Kate, because I've read them all.

The Warner branding is an interesting point. The 8 I picked are from a variety of publishers, but certain lines do have a Look to them. Hmmm...

Vivant said...

The cartoonish covers scream comedy to me, but my personal favorite of the books you showcased is the Angie Fox cover. It's sly; at first glance it's all badass demon slayer chick, but then you focus on the goofy dog and realize it's a comedy.

I have read all of these except Gentlemen Prefer Succubi. Now that I've seen that cover model's "gale-force hotness" I fear I'll have to add it to my collection!

Your Sexorcist cover actually compares pretty closely to that one. Uber-hot cover dude paired with a clever, funny title to show the humorous slant.

Another gorgeous cover for you, and I adore your title - instantly memorable.

Mary Hughes said...

I'm with you that tone is most important. Just about any cover works for me that doesn't look like a gimmick.

Although first you have to attract reader's attention, yes? The Sexorcist cover certainly does that! Yu-um.

When I'm picking an unknown romance I look for the romance aspect first. So that's probably the most important cover element to me. (Riveting. That torso is riveting.) Then I get the comedy or paranormal or whatever from other aspects: title or blurb or first paragraph.

Of the ones I haven't read, going by picture/title alone, I'd pick up 3, 6 or maybe 7.

Kate Diamond said...

Note: I LOVE your cover, but it's really that fabulous title that makes me want to read it!

Vivi Andrews said...

Thanks for the title love, Vivant & Kate!

And Mary, I think you've just made the point Sue Grimshaw was making when I heard her talk - it's about catching the reader more than representing the book.

It's interesting all the things a cover has to do. I'm just relieved I'm not the one designing them! I bow down to the cover gurus.