Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Sandra Hill | Can we talk?

March 11, 2008

About book covers, I mean.

Oh, I know, this is a subject that has been beaten to death, but I’ve had some experiences of late that make me rethink some of my previous preferences. I love the covers for my Jinx treasure hunting covers, including my current WILD JINX, but I am being told by the powers that be that the big buyers do not consider these good sellers.

Huh? I think they’re beautiful, and the colors make them pop. But, no, they claim that, unless you are a huge name, readers want to know exactly what the book is about, and that means people. In my case, probably shirtless hunks. Yikes! Talk about a blast to the past.

I’ve been published for fourteen years, and I have twenty-five books under my belt. For years I got hunk covers, sexy hunk covers, some of which were downright embarrassing. Not so extreme as the erotica ones today, but sexy nonetheless. A few of them I call my “bag over the head” covers…ones that I would have to wear a bag over my head if I were doing a booksigning in the mall. I couldn’t wait until I became a big star and could have theme covers…you know what I mean, the pretty Adirondack chair on the beach, the sword and flower, the rugged castle on the moors.

Be careful what you wish for.

My second book, THE OUTLAW VIKING, had John D’Salvo in a blond wig and a fur thingee that must be in the closet of every cover artist in New York.
When a publisher says he needs a cover for a Viking book, Iswear, they just pull out that darn fur thingee. Better that than a horned helmet, which Vikings did not wear. Ever. Except in operas. But, despite my ducked head, this was a very successful cover. It sold lots of books. Funny story, though. I gave a copy to my hair dresser who I expected to make fun of the fur thingee, but instead she said, “Whoa, did you see what’s peeking out of that fur?”


I looked and I looked. Didn’t see a thing. It was sort oflike those Curious George books where you can’t find the monkey, and you can’t find the monkey, and suddenly there the monkey is,and after that, it’s the only thing you can see. Yep, I saw the monkey. Probably a trick of lighting. Ha, ha, ha.

Did I happen to mention that my fans check out my covers with magnifying glasses?

Which brings us to SWEETER SAVAGE LOVE. Whoo-boy! Where’s the bag? And, yes, the magnifying glass folks claim that…well, never mind!

I have to say that we writers are as scornful of these types of covers as all those fan websites, but guess what? When I do a booksigning, even at a writers’ conference, yep, SWEETER SAVAGE LOVE is the first to sell out.

And then there is THE BEWITCHED VIKING. Fan sites love to ridicule this cover, and that website that gives new titles to romance novels based on cover art is actually very funny about this one. But I love this cover! And my fans do, too. And it sold tremendously well.

Yes, it’s hokey…that crooking finger…or is he giving the finger? Either way, if you’d read the book, you would know that the mischievous Tykir would do exactly that.

Disclaimer here…I’ve also had some great cover art, like the stepback for FRANKLY, MY DEAR. Striking. And beautiful.

Fast forward to today and the dilemma over what sells in cover art, especially in this tight market. If my pretty Jinx covers aren’t the answer, what is? Do barechested hunk covers really sell romance best? Are readers really sick of the theme covers that don’t represent the book? And don’t even mention cartoon covers!

What do you think?

Sandra Hill

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