Cheryl St.John: Cover Love

9780373295715Some of us probably got bookstore or amazon gift certificates for Christmas, didn’t we? How many new books have you purchased so far this year? I’m guessing you already had books on your wish list and that you were waiting for them to be released. But sometimes those books just leap off the shelf at us. When I saw the cover for Her Montana Man for the first time, I was ecstatic. I didn’t think my good cover fortune could get any better. And then I saw the cover for Her Colorado Man. I experienced a moment of pure cover elation. Cover love. Cover adoration. I love that cover.

getting_luckyWhen I fill out my cover suggestions for the art department and marketing team, I select two or three key scenes from the book and describe the characters’ clothing and the weather and the time of day. And then I hold my breath. Sometimes the resulting image is nothing like I imagined, and other times it’s even better. This romantic depiction is from a scene during the Denver exhibition when Wes and Mariah dance under the stars, away from public view. You can even see the decorative lanterns in the background.

So imagine this: You’re standing in the checkout line, and the books catch your eye. One book in particular holds your interest. You pick it up, turn it over, and open to the first page. You must have this book. Into your cart it goes.

the jewel of his heartWhat was it that caught your eye? Something about that cover made you reach for the book. Maybe something about the back cover lured you in. Maybe you didn’t even look at the price

I’ll bet you can remember more than one time that you’ve picked up a book for the cover alone. I know I have. On the other hand, I’ve passed by some terrific stories because the covers turned me off. I can think of one in particular. I got the book in my stack of entries to judge for the RITA awards. I even put it off until the last, only to discover it was an incredible story that hooked me from the get go and never let up. I liked the author’s voice and style so much that I hunted her backlist and read as many as I could get my hands on. So what was it I didn’t like about that cover, you ask? It was a cartoon cover. I have never purchased a book with a cartoon cover—well except the others by that same author.

a matter of classI think most of us have auto-buy authors – an author you buy simply because you know they’re going to deliver a story you will enjoy, no matter the subject or the cover. For me there are several of those: Sharon Sala, Anne Frasier, Janet Evanovich, Robyn Carr just to name a few.

I’ve purchased books based on reviews – sort of like movie reviews that tempt me. Not because the review was glowing, but because the synopsis told me the book was about a subject or character I knew I would like. I’ve bought books because someone recommended them to me. I have purchased a book because of an ad. That could have been because of the cover or the blurb. I’ve never bought one because of a quote on the front or because I saw the book trailer.

pieces of skyIf I had to say where most of my book buying was done over the past couple of years, I’d confess it wasn’t done in stores, but online. Convenience is the reason – and because –sadly — the chain stores carry less and less of the mid-list books. At least one huge chain store near me (Target) no longer carries Harlequin or Silhouette lines!

Online book shopping is a whole different beast. You pretty much need to know what you’re looking for, or at least I do. amazon has that clever suggestion feature that shows what they think you’d like based on your previous purchases. And you can subscribe to any number of newsletters by your favorite authors to be prepared for their new releases.

earlydawn_withstepbackBut there’s something about looking at those covers…something about picking up that book, seeing it in person…up close and personal, covers are enticing. For me — If it has a western or an Americana look, I’m a sucker. There was a day when many readers would buy any book with Fabio or John DeSalvo on the cover. I’m probably in the minority of romance readers who aren’t impressed by cover models. In fact, if I recognize the guy on the front, it’s a complete turnoff for me. He has become a model in my eyes, not the fantasy hero I want to meet for the first time and fall in love with.  I guess that’s it–a recognizable face spoils the fantasy.

I also prefer cover people with heads, thank you very much. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like to stare and stare, trying to figure out where the story peoples’ faces are. I’m a bigger fan of bare backs with laces falling away than of legs and high heels, but that’s probably my historical preferences coming out. I will always buy a cowboy or a cowboy hat. And I don’t mind flowers.

stjohn.jpgAnd FYI: Desceptive cover, Catherine Anderson’s newest book Early Dawn is a western!

So what type of cover attracts you?

Have you ever bought a book just for the cover?

Do you buy books for the author’s name, no matter what the cover looks like?

What are your criteria for spending your cash on a new author’s book?

Have you ever bought a book because you’d met the author and liked him or her?

Picked up any beautiful books lately?

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24 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: Cover Love”

  1. Like you, I buy books with cowboys on them. They’re my favorites. I also have my favorites authors, whose books I almost always buy. I tend to like covers with men on them rather than just women. I have a new book coming out with a pretty cool cover. it’s called The Anonymous Bride. One thing I really like about it is there’s a fence between the hero and heroine, and in that story, the heroine betrayed the hero’s love in the past, so there’s a barrier between them now. He can’t forgive her for what she’s done.

    Chris Lynxwiler has a book with a yummy cowboy on the front. I love that cover.

  2. Hi Cher, I too bemoan the lack of romance novels on the stores where I shop. As for covers, I’m attracted to Western themes and cowboys with black hats, duh, and medieval but…I actually prefer to imagine faces on my own, so “headless” covers don’t bother me. I rarely buy a book just because of the cover (mostly because my own first book cover was so hideous and I felt the story wasn’t LOL) but I do buy books by authors I’ve met at my chapter meetings or RWA. It’s still surreal to me to have met real authors! ANd signed books yet…be still my heart!

    Great blog and yummo covers.

  3. Hi Cher, I too bemoan the lack of romance novels on the stores where I shop. As for covers, I’m attracted to Western themes and cowboys with black hats, duh, and medieval but…I actually prefer to imagine faces on my own, so “headless” covers don’t bother me. I rarely buy a book just because of the cover (mostly because my own first book cover was so hideous and I felt the story wasn’t LOL) but I do buy books by authors I’ve met at my chapter meetings or RWA. It’s still surreal to me to have met real authors! ANd signed books yet…be still my heart!

    Great blog and yummo covers.

  4. Hi Cher! I loved the cover of a book by Arlene James so much I have two copies. I bought it once, but it aside to read, forgot I’d bought it and bought it again a month later because I loved the cover. The colors were *my* colors done in an impressionistic style, and the bride in her white gown couldn’t have been more beautiful.

    I kind of liked the “partial body” covers at first, but I’m tired of them now.

    An evocative landscape will get me to pick up a book. So will a cowboy!

  5. Hi Cher,

    I try my best to get your books they are all so good.

    I believe and so do all my friends that cover models is so distasteful. I mean I like to see cover people but it needs to be like your covers

    My favorite of course is Native American but the cover models has to be in full regalia and the scenery is a key point also, I really like the southwest scene.

    Thanks Cheryl for the great post but your post are always so good

    Walk in harmony,

  6. Hi Cheryl,

    I am getting a little tired of the headless covers myself, I can take only so many washboard abs.
    I kind of miss the ‘painted covers’, I thought the painting look gave it a more romantic feel.
    But, Have got used to just the photos.
    I only bought a book for the cover only once, Nathan Kamp was on the cover and it was a fantastic shot, LOL!
    I like it when the models on the cover match the descriptions in the book. I bought a book once and the hero was described with shoulder length blond hair, and the model on the book had short brown hair and a beard!
    I have to agree that cover for ‘Her Colorado man’ is wonderful!

  7. Ohhh Cheryl you know I love the cover for Her Colorado Man…what a hunk LOL…plus the colors are terrific and it’s very romantic!

    I love the covers with all the beautiful pastel colors like Maggie’s cover for The Jewel of His Heart! I love Maggie’s books but what sold me on the cover was the detail, the dog in the background to be exact! I saw the dog that looked exactly like mine and knew I had to have the book for that reason too LOL!

    The first book that I go for when browsing at Wal-Mart (I don’t have a bookstore close to me) are the ones with pretty, romantic, soft colors or the covers where the people have faces!!! I’m with you Cheryl I HATE the new trend where everyones heads are cut off! Grrrr! I want to see what the hero looks like thank you very much!

    If the book is by an author I like it could have no cover art at all…since I know that I will probably love the book anyways!

    If an author is new to me I usually check out reviews first. Since I’m on a limited budget I’m not going to shell out $15+ for a book that I might not enjoy. I usually ask friends first or visit friends blogs to see if they have reviewed anything by that author or go to sites like Amazon to see what others have to say.

    Great post Cheryl! Thanks for making me think a bit!

    XOXO~ Renee

  8. Good morning,Cheryl. I look first for my favorite authors when I look for books. Yours, and Julie Miller(Harlequin Intrique) top my list. Then I look at the covers while still watching for other authors that I like. I, too, am tired of headless covers. I also don’t like covers that don’t fit the characters after I start reading the book.

    I absolutly love the cover of Her Colorado Man. I think that one I would have picked up on the strength of the cover alone.

  9. Like you, Cheryl, I do most of my book buying on line. But last year while grocery shopping I picked up a book, a mainstream contemporary, with a cover so breathtaking I couldn’t put it down. The story was as wonderful as the cover. I’ve since passed the book to a friend but it was called “Light of the Moon,” or something similar, and the cover showed a red-haired woman walking through long grass with a pale sky and moon overhead. It just grabbed me.
    Great post. I love your new cover.

  10. Cheryl, what a thought-provoking subject. Made me examine why I buy books. I always buy every western Linda Lael Miller and Jodi Thomas write. And I try to buy the Fillies books not only to support them but because they’re so well-written and riveting. Then, my other preference is anything with a cowboy on the cover. That always hooks me and reels me in. I also buy Helen R Myers’ and Sharon Sala’s contemp books because I know they’ll deliver a good story.

    I just finished Her Colorado Man and I loved it! I’ve never read a story about a brewery before. Very unusual and clever. Mariah and Wes’s love story was so tender. Wow! And I loved the deep family ties that surrounded them both and enabled them to admit their feelings for each other. It was definitely a page-turner for me. Great cover by the way!

  11. First I look for authors that I love, gotta have them… then I will browse the covers… if a cover catches my eye then I read the blurb on the back, the I decide whether to buy or not…

    Oh I forgot… belated thanks for the beautiful Christmas card that you sent me… wishing you the best this New Year! 😀

  12. I slept in today, so late getting here – there’s a blizzard outside and no school AGAIN, good weather to sleep. 🙂

    I enjoyed hearing about your favorite covers so much! I think I will post later this afternoon or early evening and show the covers that all of you mentioned–just for fun.

    Vickie, can you send me that new cover??

    Renee, I buy a lot of books because of reviews, too – or because someone raved about the story. Sometimes I’m disappointed, sometimes not.

    Mary, your covers have a brand all your own, so I wouldn’t change anything. You’re on a roll.

    LOL on 2 copies of th same book, Vicki.

    Linda, your praise means so much, because you’re a wonderful story-teller yourself! I had a ball creating that brewery atmosphere.

  13. Cheryl,

    I purchase most westerns and historicals just because of their genre and author. Books bought due to covers: Anna Campbell, Stacie Kayne, Catherine
    Anderson(Comanche Heart.) One book bought because
    it was beautiful: Jo Beverley’s The Secret Wedding.
    BTW, I love the Colorado Man cover!

    Pat Cochran

  14. Hi Cheryl! I’m stuck inside with this blizzard too! (Surrounded by my sons and husband who all got the day off from school–I only hope they’ll shovel the drive soon.)

    I do like Her Colorado Man cover and also the premise for the story. Loved the excerpt at HHA.

    Although covers won’t make me buy a book, they sure reel me in and make me pick up the book to examine the back blurb. I like people and scenery on the cover, not just flowers. I especially like that look the Christian publishers seeme to push as you have here with The Jewel of his Heart.

    Stay warm!! And thank goodness for the internet and a good book on days like this when we have to stay in!

  15. You have beautiful covers. I can’t say I bought a book for the cover but that the cover brought me to the book and then after reading the blurb, I bought it. I will buy a book even with an ugly cover if I know the author lol. And I have bought books because I’ve been to their blogs and found them to be such nice people 🙂 As to buying new authors, the best way to find out if I like their books is to research their sites or blogs or a review site and if I’m lucky enough to win one of their books they may end up an automatic read.

  16. I was browsing in a bookstore and found a new author just because of the cover. It was Catherine Anderson. I usually know what I am going to buy because I am looking for certain authors but a cover can sway me. Also, sometimes I won’t buy a book even if I like the author because the cover is too risque. I don’t consider myself a prude but some covers can be too much.

  17. Cheryl, I, too, like the covers and am often swayed by them. But I also buy because of genre — Native American, cowboys are my favorite. There’s something about the West — the freedom, the open spaces, that I so love.

  18. I buy mostly by author and recommendation.
    I admire some of the covers, but probably will not buy the books.

  19. Chiming in late, today, Cheryl, but I loved your post. Whoever said not to judge a book by it’s cover was probably right, but we do it every day, don’t we?

    The cover is the first thing that draws me in, but it’s the blurb that gets me to buy the book. On the other hand, there are probably some great stories I miss out on because the covers are too … um … amorous for me. I refuse to buy a book that I would be embarrassed for my kids to see me reading.

    Oh, and thanks for the head’s up on Catherine Anderson’s new book being a western. I love her historicals but probably would have walked on by thinking that one was a contemporary. Show us the cowboys!

  20. Good Post. Covers do make a difference for me. There have been books I haven’t checked out because of the cover. I’m not a big fan of partially clad figures. Landscapes, Items that pertain to the story (swords, flowers, rings, hats, cradles, etc), people all work. Most of the ones you chose are good examples.
    I never bought or read romances because of the “bodice ripper covers”. Julie Garwood had a run of her historicals come out with covers that had scarves and jeweled broaches on them. They were lovely and after reading one, I bought them all. I still prefer subtle covers.

  21. I’m chiming in way late. Every time I blink I get behind. Cheryl, you have a lot of great covers but that Colorado man, yum, yum. Very romantic.

    I’m with you. I don’t want boys on my covers.

  22. Cheryl, I enjoyed reading your post about covers and thanks for putting my book, The Jewel of His Heart, on your post. An intriguing cover always compells me to pick up a new book, no matter who the author is. I think the marketing people really know that when they’re designing them. My 2nd cover is so beautiful! The heroine is lovely with her Yogo blue eyes and I was allowed a big part of what when on the cover and I’m grateful for that. My next one coming out in June is equally as nice. Her Colorado Man is so pretty and besides that, I love Colorado.:)

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