So you’ve been living in Antartica studying the personal hygiene habits of Emporer Penquins for the past 3 years and you have no idea what this Pinterest-thing is, right? In a nutshell, Pinterest is a magical place where you can take all your favorite images and “pin” them to your virtual happy boards! In other words, it’s an online bulletin board–a place where you can have your dream kitchen full of amazing recipes you would never dare attempt, a dream home filled to the rim with Ralph Lauren styled furniture and decor that is way out of the average person’s price range and where you can plan your six-figure dream wedding to your perfect mate who looks an awful lot like Brad Pitt, George Clooney and David Gandy.
Here are the two most important facts about Pinterest you need to know:
#1 Total number of Pinterest users: 70 million (as of July 2013)
#2 Total number of Pinterest users that are women: 80% (as of May 2013)
So, what exactly does this have to do with book covers–more specifically, ebook covers?
We have read and been told for years that when it comes to making decisions, sex, attraction, etc., men are visual, women are emotional. I think Pinterest blasts that right out of the water. Women are quite obviously very visual, how else do you explain the incredible, lightening-fast popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr or any of the other social media sites that showcase images and video? I will even take this a step further and say, when I look at my Kindle’s home page it reminds me of a Pinterest board; all of my ebooks covers lined up row-by-row with their shirtless, muscular men begging me to open the book and read just one more chapter. I mean, who needs to go to the grocery store anyway? Not me… I have the phone numbers of every pizza delivery joint within a twenty mile radius programmed into my phone’s contact list 🙂
I realize authors, and especially indie authors, don’t have a lot of say when it comes to some of their book covers, but for those who have any say at all you need to be saying something. Now with that said, I realize just as much as the next image whore that not even a full-frontal nude of Chris Hemsworth is going to make a bad book in to a good book (it will sell millions of books though, so you won’t have to worry about that whole good book-thing). But if Pinterest shows us anything it’s that I, and I’m sure other women, do look at the cover–I’m not sure if online publishers realize this–it may not be the only factor in our decision, but a bad cover could be cause for pause… and you don’t want me to pause when making my buying decision.
When I came across the book An Agreement Among Gentlemen by Chris Owen, I passed it by many times while searching Amazon; I didn’t even read the blurb, the description or linger on the product page. Honestly, I just couldn’t get past the cover. In my review I even explain this stating that if I hadn’t gotten past the almost children’s-book-like cover, I would not have read the book and that would have been a travesty because it was a great book! I know, that’s shallow, I should have looked past the cover and all that jazz, but I’m visual and the book cover is right there in front of you quite prominent when you are searching, so yeah, I judged a book by it’s cover. Don’t get me wrong, the cover isn’t bad, it’s just not what I would consider indicative of the genre or the story.
On the other hand, I remember the first time I saw the book Warrior’s Cross by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux, again while on Amazon.com… I was instantly hooked. Do you know why? Yes, the cover is great in its simplicity, but it was what the cover told me–which was everything I needed to know about the book to catch my interest enough to read the product page. First of all the man on the cover meets the criteria laid out by the author’s description of the main character, Julian Cross: he’s mysterious, tall, dark, brooding, always wearing an impeccable suit, a man of means, he has a very dangerous profession, uses a gun, wears a beautiful amulet/pendant that is significant to the story… you get the point. I see those things on the cover–even the way the man on the cover has his shoulders rounded, slightly hunched conveys to me, the reader, he has a heavy weight bearing on him, I immediately cared about the man on the cover and I hadn’t even read the story yet! Warrior’s Cross is, to this day, one of my top five favorite M/M books of all time and has probably one of the best covers in the genre.
This leads to my final thought: I seriously don’t mind a shirtless man, or two, or three, on the cover as long as the men somewhat resemble the characters in the book. One of my favorite M/M books has a cover that I avoid at all cost, which isn’t easy since it’s usually on the first few pages of my Kindle. The men in the book are approximately thirty-five and forty years old, yet one of the men on the cover looks to be well into his fifties, they both have dark hair (one of the main characters is a blonde), no chest hair (both men in the book have chest hair) and, seriously, the men on the cover are just unattractive. I don’t know who selected the photo for the cover, but they obviously didn’t read the book or consult with the author. In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t show the faces of the men on the cover. Why? Your story describes the characters just fine–I take the information you give me, decipher it within the gears of my imagination to come up with my personal vision of what the characters look like, but when I have men on the cover whose faces are nothing like the image I have created from your storytelling or the models/images are unattractive, I feel like the cover is just this after-thought with non-players staring back at me.
Look, I know I can’t be alone here, and I know the authors are somewhat powerless when it comes to the covers, so by all things great and small would the epublishers please put some effort into the ebook covers? You have amazing cover artists doing some of these covers, I see them and they do terrific work–give them more time, more compensation, allow them to conference with the author and lets kick it up a notch! Authors and their stories deserve nothing short of the best covers the genre can muster and since both your male and female readers are visual, it makes perfect marketing sense–and gives us a great pin for our “What I’m Reading Now” board 😉
If you would like to connect with me in other places and spaces throughout the web-o-sphere, you can find me stalking at the below sites: