My Love Affair With Book Covers

I fell in love with book covers in the 1980’s when Avon published the historical romances of Kathleen E Woodwiss, Shirley Busbee, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Sutcliffe.  Today, cover art still fascinates me, whether it’s showcased in hardcover, paperback, or e-book form.  To see the beautiful cover art of the Women Unplugged authors, click here.

One of the most spellbinding covers I’ve recently seen is from the historical romance SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS by Lecia Cornwall.  This intricate story involves a woman of breeding who stands to lose everything she holds dear, the incorrigible rogue who falls in love with her, and the masquerade ball where their secrets unfold. It’s a cover colored in hues of pinks and purples and blues and with one look, the reader knows this is going to be a romance reminiscent of the historical romances of old.

On the other side of the spectrum is FLEE by Ann Voss Peterson and J A Konrath. This is a high-octane spy thriller featuring an elite spy whose cover is blown. She has twenty-four hours to thwart a kidnapping, stop a psychopath, uncover the mystery of her past, and save the world from nuclear annihilation … all while dodging 10,000 bullets. This cover, with its heroine dancing across rooftops and a multitude of assassins within firing range, is as fast and furious as the story itself.

For inspiration, I have a tear-out advertisement featuring WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips tacked on the wall in front of my desk. When a Hollywood actress is dumped by her movie star husband, what does she do but get caught up in a calamitous elopement with her detestable former co-star who is the dreamboat-from-hell. Before she knows it, she has a fake marriage, fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life. This cover, with its heroine (sans hero) in a beautiful white wedding dress, speaks of a woman’s journey to find happiness.

Since fun, humorous fiction is one of my favorite genres, I must include SPLITSVILLE.COM by Tonya Kappes. The heroine launches an online break up service where she works under an alias. When two of her clients end up dead, putting the future of her business venture on the line, she’s the first one on the trail of the killer. When I look at this cover, there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to spend a lot of time smiling and laughing.

And from the young adult market is STATIC by Tawny Stokes. When a seventeen-year-old band groupie meets the lead singer of her favorite band, her dream turns into a nightmare. She’s changing, turning into something not quite human. With the help of the band’s roadie, she goes after the members of the band to destroy them. On this cover, the teenage girl in the funky clothes holding a guitar looks kickass and tough enough to take on any teenage boy who dares to threaten her.

So what book covers do you love the most? And what do the covers say to you about the story inside?

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About Sheila Seabrook

Author of Single Title Romantic Comedy and Women's Fiction

Posted on October 5, 2011, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Sheila!! *blushing* Thank you sooooo much for including Splitsville.com in your post!! What a nice surprise! I follow your blog, so the first thing in my mailbox was that there was a new post up. Thank you!
    Anyways….I do adore a GREAT cover. I’m a true cover-snob and proud of it! In today’s ebook world when I’m surfing for new books on my Kindle, it’s the cover that catches my eye first. Then I read the blurb. I NEVER read the reviews or look at the ratings b/c those are so subjective and what I like might not be what you like.
    So a great cover is a must!!

    I’m also a HUGE believer that the cover should say something about the book. For instance you used SPLITSVILLE.COM. She’s sitting at the computer with a broken heart on it. It might not scream mystery, but it does make you want to read the blurb about the break-up online service that leads to a mystery.

    Once I bought a Christmas book from the store with a cute dog on it. I’m a sucker for a dog cover, and there wasn’t a dog in the book!! I was soooo mad!!! I felt mislead. Instead of writing a review, I did contact the author with suggestions that she should’ve said NO to the dog….sigh….

    • Hi Tonya … like you, the cover grabs my attention first and then I read the blurb. One of my wishes is that I could design such beautiful cover art but alas, I don’t have the eye. And because I’ve admired every single cover you’ve had, when it’s time to self-pub, I want your cover designer. 🙂

      I haven’t read Splitsville.com yet but am looking forward to it. It’s on my Kindle, along with your other books (loved Carpe Bead’em!) and am hoping to get to it soon. I love fun, humorous fiction.

      Thanks for stopping by to chat!

  2. Sheila,
    Great post and great books for inclusion. Covers are the very first thing I look at and determine in large part what I investigate further. I agree with Tonya, a misleading cover is just wrong. The great thing about self-publishing is getting to choose your covers and the great thing about being traditionally published is that for the most part the covers are awesome. Our own Sharla Lovelace’s cover is proof of that!

    Thanks for sharing some of your favorites.

    By the way, I have three new covers for my books on our site and I’ve vowed never to touch that page again. I’ll forward them to you with my eternal love and gratitude for posting them to the site!!

  3. Loved your take on the book covers, Sheila! Interesting how they speak to readers, isn’t it?

  4. I too have been disappointed by a book’s contents after buying it for its cover–hot guy I couldn’t resist:). Believe it or not, two of my favorite books have nearly identical covers. Both are Avon publications. The first is Suzanne Enoch’s Always a Scoundel and the other is Julie Anne Long’s What I Did for a Duke. The covers are mirror images of one another. Check them out. Both are brilliantly written, btw, and great reads. Enjoyed the post, Sheila.

    • Hi Tracy … I had to go check out the covers and you’re right. Not only are they are beautiful but they’re mirror images of each other. I’m starting to see this more and more. Lauren Hawkeye’s 2009 Harlequin Spice Briefs titled WET is identical to Jill Shalvis’s 2006 Harlequin Blaze JUST TRY ME. So recycling book covers is perhaps more common than we think.

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Fabulous covers!! I’m reading Splitsville by Tonya Kappes now. I’m sure all of the above have a story as fantastic as her beneath the cover.

    • Hi P.J. … I have Splitsville.com on my Kindle, soon to be read and I can’t wait. 🙂

      And you are absolutely right. All of the books above not only have wonderful covers but the stories are page turners, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Sheila, this is a great post and so much like a loop discussion on RWA-WF. Yes, I do believe covers influence what we buy and I think that is the reason pub. are so sure they know what is best to catch the “eye” of the reader. Works, doesn’t it?

    Not only did you give me great covers, you also did a small review of each one and added to my TBR tower. Thanks, this was a fun read 🙂

  7. Great post, Sheila. And yes, reader be wary never to judge a book by its cover.

  8. Hello Sheila,

    Good article and I enjoyed the other posts as well. Since I’m a guy and we tend to be very visual – the cover is extremely important. If the cover doesn’t grab me right off the bat, then the title had better be something else! Lol. I cannot share at this moment my most memorable cover as I like so many. But, there is one book that has stayed with me over the years that I cannot seem to forget. It was a historical romance called Winter Rose and I do not know the name of the suthor anymore but it was a combo of cover and content.

    Have a great day!,
    Rob

  9. Thanks for including FLEE, Sheila! I was so excited when I first saw the cover. Our cover artist, Carl Graves at Extended Imagery, is amazing.

  10. Wow, Sheila, those are some good covers.

    My favorites are those on Elizabeth Essex’s historicals. Check them out; I’m betting you’ll like them too. oxox

  11. Thank you, Sheila, for showing the covers and blurbs for these books. Since I started reading blogs I have found most of the books I read from them and am so grateful for that. We lost our Borders and so I do my perusing online at blogsites and websites.
    As noted above, we were talking about this on RWA/WF I think, and it seems that most people are very influenced by cover art. I know that if a cover doesn’t catch my eye I won’t even pick it up and read the blurb. Sometimes it’s the title, though, and most definitely the blurb which has to reel me in in about three lines. Great post!
    Patti

    • Hi Patti … It was the RWA-WF discussion and Florence Fois’ recent blog (see link above) that inspired this post on covers. Like you, I pick up my new reading material from the internet. Without local bookstores (sad indeed!), it’s the only way to find a good read. And titles, I love titles.

  12. Love this post, Sheila! Covers are vital to me…they make me pick up a book to explore further. I talked about mine a little on the RWAWF loop but I’ll recap. I had such a vision for the cover of my book, and being the first one I had no idea what the process was. My pub house asked me my ideas… by that I thought they meant my ideas in great detail. What they really meant was “hair color, skin color, major themes”. I sent my editor a drawing of what I envisioned, and she had a chuckle and told me to relax and let the art dept do their thing. I got something way outside of what I envisioned, yet brilliant nonetheless. I had to concede on a couple of things, but I’m happy with it!

    Two of my favorite covers are books I haven’t read yet…The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, and Making Waves by Tawna Fenske. Two very different but equally visually awesome covers. Check them out!

  13. Great post, Sheila! What an interesting assortment of covers you’ve chosen. I’ve read 3 of the 5 (Static, Secretes of a Proper Countess and What I Did for Love). All were very different, ALL were great reads! Covers are so important, aren’t they? I don’t think I have a favourite but I do love it when the cover depicts an actual scene in the book. I really hate it when the people on the cover don’t match the characters…wrong hair colour or wrong look. The one thing I’m finding, and I’m curious to hear if others are as well, is that the more e-books I buy (on my Kindle), the less important the cover becomes as I use reviews and sample reads as my gauge. This might be because Kindle is in B/W are small and usually don’t show up on the sample.

    What do others think?

    • Hi Dara-Lee … I still buy my ebooks using my computer because I enjoy looking at the covers so much. I’d be curious, too, whether it’s becoming less important and whether the majority of Kindle users are buying using their B&W Kindle or if they’re using their computers for the purchase as I do. I’m sure one of these days someone will do a study on it and give us stats. LOL!

      Glad you enjoyed my book cover choices. Since the arrival of ebooks, my reading tastes have become so varied and I’m loving to read more than ever. :o)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I also love Lecia Cornwall’s debut cover – and the book is excellent too!

    Sheila, you chose an interesting assortment of covers and I loved your comments about each one – about how the cover reflected the book.

    What I hate is when the cover does NOT reflect the book. I admit to “judging a book by its cover” (or great cowboy on the front) and being seriously disappointed by the writing. very sad.

    • Hi Suzanne … Lecia’s debut book is wonderful and I’m looking forward to her Christmas novella as well as her next historical release (Jan 2010, I think).

      I’m glad you enjoyed the cover choice and comments. And as readers, we can always hope that the cover is a good reflection of the story inside.

      Thanks for stopping in!

  15. Great post Sheila, and thank you for including my cover for Static. Have to say out of all the covers I’ve gotten over the years, from small presses to the big guns, Static is my FAVE. I love it. And part of the awesomeness of self-pubbing is the ability to have exactly what you want for the cover.

    • Hi Tawny/Vivi … Your covers — and your stories — are wonderful and I always look forward to each one. It was a pleasure to include one of your many wonderful covers on this list.

      Thanks for stopping in!

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