Friday, May 25, 2007

Pirates, Book Covers and Free Stuff

by Caren Crane recently had an article on book covers. Specifically, on whether it was possible to quantify what makes a cover special, different, impossible to pass up. Come on, if anyone knew that, all book covers would be terrific! I think we have all been witness to some unfortunate book covers. I have some ideas, though, on what makes a book cover great. Many covers, in my opinion, should look like the one on the right.

Now, this particular pirate may not be your cup of tea, but he could kidnap me and take me to a private island (as he did in the book) any old day! I will admit I am a sucker for a pretty face and great torso. Some readers prefer no hero/heroine embrace or bare-chested man on the covers they show the world as they read in the airport or subway or on the sidelines at soccer practice. These covers don't bother me at all, but some readers prefer to hide them behind fabric book jackets or scholarly-looking periodicals. Some observers may look at my half-naked pirate askance, but others are eager to find people who read the same books they do. I know I am.

There has been a trend in recent years toward flowery covers, or pictures of house fronts or abandoned cafe tables or delicate landscapes. These covers, frankly, don't do much for me. Like photographs, I want my book covers to have people on them. Because people are the interesting part! A hunky hero or wind-tousled heroine adds a focal point to a cover and makes me wonder what that person's story is.

Now, many of you may realize this weekend is the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End. Not only do we at Romance Bandits love reading about pirates, we love watching them. And since we Banditas are avid fans of our seafaring brethren, we have decided to have a contest! Reaching deep into the Bandit Treasure Chest, we have come up with the three following prizes that will be awarded, separately, to three lucky commentors:
*Pirate's Booty snacks and $15 in Fandango Bucks (so you can go see Captain Jack on the big screen with your sweetie)
*An autographed copy of Tawny Weber's May release "Double Dare" (for those who like to live the bandit life on the edge)
* A delightful box of liquor-filled chocolates (guaranteed to satisfy any pirates in your life)

To win, tell us who or what you would love to see on the cover of your favorite novel. Don't be afraid to think big. Um, but I have dibs Johnny Depp. Winners will be selected Sunday night at midnight. Don't forget to check back Monday to collect your booty. Arr!


Christine Wells said...

Oh, good question, Caren! I'd like to have a hero and heroine on the cover who look exactly as I imagine them when I read the book. An impossible dream! For one thing, I never imagine pumped up, long-haired Ken dolls standing in for the heroes of my favourite historicals:)

See, now I've been a Johnny Depp fan since 21 Jump Street so I dispute your 'prior' claim, Caren! But hmm, if I'd have to pick another pirate type, I'd pick Rufus Sewell. I think he'd be great pirate material. Cold Comfort Farm, anyone? Mmm Seth and Reuben...

Beth Caudill said...

Different genres require different covers. I like different covers on my Fantasy books then say my Historical romances. For Romances, I like do like Manors or houses. I also like seeing a hero and heroine standing/sitting together on equal footing. No damsels at the heros feet for me.

While I will also lay claim to Johnny, Orlando aint bad as an elf. Not so up on his character in Pirates but man was he hot in LOTR.

Also, I want to establish a claim on Hugh Jackman - with or without the claws doesn't matter to me.


CrystalG said...

I like covers that depict a theme from the book or that have a hero/heroine who look like the author's description.
I would choose Matthew McConaughey for a cover. He is gorgeous.

Caren Crane said...

Beth, I agree that genre is everything. I always love my fantasy covers to look magical. Not opposed to beautiful people on them, though. *g*

Crystal and Christine, I am completely with you on the cover looking like the people in the book. I can't tell you how disillusioning it was to hear authors say they have changed hair color or eye color of a main character because of the cover art the Marketing department approved.

And Christine, I was right there on '21 Jump Street', so don't pull that one. I own 'Cry Baby' on DVD (weirdest Johnny role ever), as well as most everything else Johnny has been in. I'm also older than you, which should count for something. *g*

Anonymous said...

Crystal, I'm with you on Matthew. He just gets better with age, don't you think? :-) And while his abs are fabulous, that accent really makes the man.

I get terribly embarrassed by clinch covers, I'll admit. I love to look at pictures of the hero/heroine, but hate having to carry around the half-naked book cover for all the world to see. So I rather like the two part covers (I'm can't remember the technical term for this!) with the naked folks on the inside cover and the title or some abstract scene on the front.

I know, what a whimp, right? :-)


Sonja Foust said...

Totally Hugh Jackman. And you can put him in the exact pose of the pirate on Sabrina's cover. :-)

Stacy S said...

I would like the couple to look like they do in the story. I would love Gerard Bulter to be on the cover or my bed.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, shoot me, but I LOVE a clinch cover. To me, it screams romance. I was delighted when I got one for Claiming the Courtesan. I think it goes back to when I was a teenager and decided that I was going to grow up to write naughty historicals. All those early books had, as my mother put it most amusingly, the girl in the nighty and the guy with the bare chest and the flowing hair.

Hey, great bounty, Banditas. Are you sure I can't play?

jo lewis-robertson said...

Great article, Caren, one that got me thinking about covers I enjoy. I'm the person who puts fabric book covers over all my books, to protect them (I tell myself), but hey, I think I'll come out of the closet and display those handsome hunks. I have to say, though, that I was always a sucker for a guy wearing glasses!

Caren Crane said...

Amen, Stacy S!

Sonja, the buff Hugh from X Men, sure. Not so convinced about "Oklahama" Hugh. *g*

Inara and Jo, I totally get why the clinch might not be for everyone. I worked in engineering with tons of men. The clinch covers made them very uncomfortable. They only made me uncomfortable when the men thought I was reading pornography - which they were all about. *g*

Anna C - NO, you cannot play. But I will bring you some Pirate's Booty to the conference in Dallas. Will that do?

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, you are a buddy and a Bandita of bestness!

Sabrina said...

I want Richard Armitage on a cover. Any cover. Preferably dressed in leather as in Robin Hood.

If I can't have him, Oded Fehr would be acceptable, along with Jeremy Northam, Dougray Scott, Colin Firth, or any of a number of other guys.

I don't mind the clinches myself, if they're good ones. HATE the landscape covers. Which is why my publisher will probably give me one for my next book. Just to torture me.

Oh, and the model on the Pirate Lord cover is Joseph Anselmo. Although I do like this cover, my fave with him on it was Dara Joy's Mine to Take, where he's in chains. Whoa, mama!!

Caren Crane said...

Sabrina, thanks for stopping by! Didn't know about the Dara Joy cover. I will definitely check that one out!

Richard Armitage (the actor, not the US Deputy Secretary of State *g*) is such a cutie! I keep hearing raves about "North and South". I suppose, one day, one of us will get a set of DVDs and we'll all get to watch it.

Oded Fehr - may I swoon? He was so gorgeous in the Mummy movies with those tattoos. Aiyee! Of course, I also think Brendan Fraser is a hottie. Can't quite see him on a book cover, unless he's really buff and not smiling. Much as I admire him, he is a little doofy when he smiles.

Aunty Cindy said...

Step-back, Inara.
No, not literally! That's what those 2 part covers are called and I LUVRE them too!

Did somebody say Hugh Jackman?!?!? I AM SOOOO THERE! But then all the Banditas know that Aunty has a THANG for Aussies, especially of the tall lanky variety, as in Hugh and Eric Bana. Excuse me whilst I wipe the drool from my chin.

As for my dream cover, I want the Bridge of Sighs in Venice (yes, my GH finalist book takes place there and yes, the Bridge of Sighs plays a prominent part)! And there must be a gondola (come on it's VENICE)! Oh, and if the gondolier looks like Jonathan Rhys Myers (who looks like my hero) then you won't hear your ole Aunty complain. NOT A BIT!


Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Christine, I personally think Rufus Sewell is a hottie. But I've run into friends who don't care for him. Imagine! He was Armand in 'The Legend of Zorro', so he has definite Bandit ties (even if he was a bad guy).*g*

Keira Soleore said...

Unluckily, I'm leaving for Hawaii (go me) this weekend, so PotC3 will have to wait a couple weeks. My dear Johnny Depp in eye liner. Oooh!!!

Caren, I, too, prefer to have people on my cover, instead of pastely swirls of color or a ring or something. However, I'll be the first to admit that I can't stand impossiblly ridiculous clinch covers. Put them in a stepback if you must, but for heaven's sake let us have a cover we can proudly display on public transportation.

As far as a hero on a book cover? Give me Gerard Butler in a kilt or Josh Holloway flashing his dimples or Richard Armitage in a period dress, and I'll buy every copy of the book in that store.

Caren, you HAVE to watch "North and South."

Sabrina: Hello to you again today!!

PS Banditas: Sabrina is blogging at RomanceByTheBlog on hot villains.

Caren Crane said...

Hey, no fair! Keira and Sabrina were talking about "North and South" on that other blog and Sabrina confessed she has them on DVD. She said nothing to me. What sort of friendship do we have that she would keep such a Richard Armitage-laden treasure from me, I want to know?

Tawny said...

Hmmm... do I have to fight EVERYONE for Johnny? My lust dates back to 21 Jump Sreet days too!

Beth, Orlando ROCKS in POTC: AWE.

OMG, dare I say it, toward the end, he almost (almost) out-hotted Johnny.

Anna Campbell said...

RICHARD ARMITAGE?!!! Oh, be still, my beating heart. That last kiss in North and South should be required viewing for anyone writing romance. The look on his face just makes me want to cry. I've only just discovered N&S and he was amazing in it. Sabrina, I love your selection. Can I have your offcuts once you've taken your pick? Caren, you have to see N&S. They've just repeated it here - I was too stupid to watch it first time round. Christine W talked me into watching it now - ages ago when CTC was still in manuscript as No Ordinary Duchess and she read it, she said to me that RA was Kylemore come to life. Now having watched it, physically, I could have been channelling him (yes, please!). Even down to the big beak.

Keira, have a great holiday! And don't fall in the dolphin pool!

Sabrina said...

Sorry, Caren, haven't had time to breathe (All this blogging is killing me). I was already thinking about having a girl's night out and have us watch it. Except that it's 4 hours long, so I don't know if that's too long for one sitting.

Sabrina said...

Oh, and I meant to say that I'm in lust with Rufus Sewell, too. LOVED Cold Comfort Farm.

Trish Milburn said...

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the old-style clinch. I like people on the covers, but not some open-shirted man boob shot. To me, they just turn off potential readers who might write off the a book they might actually enjoy reading. Okay, these are on opposite ends of the spectrum content-wise (what can I say -- I'm diverse), but I like how the people are handled both on J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books and on the Bethany House historical inspirational novels.

Trish Milburn said...

Oh, forgot my hottie list: agree with X-Men Hugh, Orlando (both in LOTW and POC), Eric Bana, and Oded Fehr (slurp). I'll add David Boreanaz and Wentworth Miller.

Tawny said...

Trish is slurping on the blog?


Fave covers - I want a cartoon cover someday (don't throw things, I think they are cute!).

I love couple covers, actually, but also like the more symbolic covers, something sexy like a silk covered bed, a crystal plate with a huge chunk of chocolate cake (with sprinkles)-- thats my dream cover for DOES SHE DARE. Haha -we'll see if I get it.

Helen said...

OK I am a historical romance junky and I love chesty long haired hero's on the front with beautiful partially dressed heronines I never cover them up because I am proud of what I read. The heros of course could be Hugh Jackman Johnny Depp anyone fantastic looking.
Have Fun

Anonymous said...


CTC does NOT count as clinch cover. It's far too impressionist, moody, and not the least bit embarrassing. Makes me think of Rebecca every time I look at it.

And I love Christine's cover. It reminds me of the Emma Thompson version of Much Ado About Nothing for some reason. (Yes, I KNOW, wrong time period, but still!). I ADORE Kenneth Branagh.


Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, I actually think my cover is one of the nicest clinches I've ever seen! And yes, it's definitely a clinch! And I love Christine's cover too - it's so English. Hey, snap on the Kenneth Branagh thing. Strangely, I've just been talking about him and his letterbox mouth on another loop. What's he up to now, do you know?

Laughed at the N&S confusion. Reminds me of the conversation I had with a guy who has ended up being a really good friend. I thought he was going to the opera in Chicago, he wanted to go to Oprah in Chicago. And strangely we talked for nearly an hour before we worked out we were talking about completely different animals.

Helen, I've got more bolshie about standing up for what I read as I get older (one of the benefits of getting older is you realize you can't please all the people all the time). If people who love romance won't stand up for it, who will? So I've stopped being embarrassed about covers.

Oh, and can I join everyone else sighing over Oded Fehr? I just adored him in the Mummy. My only problem is that I wanted MORE!

danetteb said...

Nice treasure Bandits!

I'm stuck on Clive Owen as a Knight(King Arthur Yum)Even thinking about him as a pirate captain sounds sexy,maybe him on the deck of a ship looking out over the deep blue ocean towards a lush island with a beautiful brunette(me but with a lot tighter body) on the shore waiting for him.
Hugs, Danette

Caren said...

Oh, Danette, you are a woman of vision! *g* I would definitely buy that book.

And Anna, I have thought Oded under-utilized for a long time. Now that he's getting a bit of age on him, they should take him more seriously and give him meatier roles (that still allow lingering close-ups of his profile). *g*

One of my son's high school friends, who was adopted by American parents in Saudi Arabia, has a profile just like Oded's. It was really weird for me after I noticed that. I kind of stopped looking directly at him for a while. Oh, the shame!

Sandy M said...

I agree, I want my covers to give me the feel of the romantic story inside through depicting the hero and heroine and I want them touching in some way! Go ahead and put those flowers and houses in the background, but make sure the lovers are front and center.

I personally don't want a popular actor or actress displayed on my romance covers. I purposely have not followed the careers of cover models over the years because I like that unknown quality until I read the book and learn about that hero. I don't want to get to know the models like I know actors because I sometimes find myself looking at the cover when the hero is described in the book I'm reading just to see how well he's been depicted by the artist, and if I see Johnny Depp's face or any other actor that I'm familiar with, that just takes something away from the essence of the book for me.

And as an aside, I'm not liking the newer covers lately -- so far it's mostly the category romance covers -- that use actual photographs. I like the covers over the years that have that "painting" quality instead of a photographic quality. Photographs depict real life to me and I read to get away from real life, so I prefer that romantic look to my books!

tetewa said...

There are two that I would like to see on covers. They are Ryan Goosling and Heath Ledger. I'm also looking forward to the new pirates movie hopefully going this week!

Anonymous said...

Sandy, I'm totally with you on not wanting to have a real person on my cover. I feel the same way about imagining the heros I'm writing. No REAL man could compare to them. I always feel like I've lost a little something when I picture them in real life. Same with the heroine.

Caren Crane said...

Sandy and Kirsten, I'm with you on not really digging the photographs on covers. I prefer the painting effect or stylized covers with no heads. *g*

And tetewa, you have excellent taste in men. I may not want pictures of them on a contemporary cover, but I wouldn't mind going to the photo shoot. Dang.

Kimberly L said...

I'd love to see a hot guy dressed up like a pirate with his shirt open. Like the cover on Connie Mason's novel The Pirate Prince. That is a hot cover. Johnny does make a great pirate. He makes a great anything. LOL
I like the guy on the cover to go with the book so when you read the book you can put the face of the pirate on the book to the character.

Joan said...

Men in chains? Uh, yeah...ok.

I'm sorry to be chiming in late on this great post. (Florida trip...beach, sun, know..the usual).

I adore clinch covers. I think a lot of the other artsy kind are becoming generic almost and do little to entice me to give a book a try (based on initial cover).

The heroine can or cannot be there, doesn't matter to me but having the hero in a dashing pose it works.

I took the new anthology WILD THING (Maggie Shayne, Marjorie Liu, Meljean Brook and Alyssa Day) on my trip. That cover has a ripped, brooding dark haired hero with angel wings flaring out behind him. Wow.

Of course we hit some bad turbulence while I was reading and I thought "If I die, will God be offended if I hold it up and say "Got this?"

Sorry, jet lag.

jennybrat said...

I'd nominate Hugh Jackman

kim h said...

love johnny depp

Suzanne Welsh said...

Even though I love step-back covers, I'm a sucker for a half naked man on the front of the book. (I also bought the very first playgirl when I was in nursing school!).

As far as the man I'd most love to see on a cover, uhm Clive would make a great English Pirate! MMMMMMM Captain Blood anyone? And as for Johnny Depp? I have to confess it wasn't until I saw "From Hell" that I truly loved him as an actor, before that, he didn't tempt me too much.

Hrdwrkdmom said...

Okay, this might sound silly but I am going to say it anyway, I like people on the covers but I don't want them half naked, I like the dress to be historically accurate, which does not include his shirt open to the waist or her skirt up to her knees or falling off her shoulders. Now if it is a step-back, that is different, sometime in the story yes they are going to be like most likely so put that on the step back but have them like they are seen in public on the front.

FilmPhan said...

I would buy any book that had Gerard Butler on the cover. Yum.