Monday, May 2, 2011

Covers and Content

There are lots of exciting moments in a writer's life. Having the book come together just as you'd hoped. Days when the characters spark with life and teach you things you didn't realise about the story you thought you knew so well. Opening your email to find a message from a reader who loved one of your stories. And, seeing the cover of your next book for the first time and (hopefully) falling for it.

Many writers have input to their covers but I'm not aware of anyone who has the final say in what their book will look like. That's in the hands of art departments and marketers. Personally, I find myself holding my breath when I open the box I know has my new title in, after all this is someone else's interpretation of what your story is about. That story you worked on frenetically for so long, and lived day and night.

Recently, when I opened a package with my first (UK) editions of PRINCE OF SCANDAL, I was thrilled. I love the colour scheme (especially the touches of red), I love the intensity of the couple staring into each other's eyes (so like Luisa and Raul, it reminded me of a number of scenes from the story). I particularly enjoyed the feel of elegance and a hint of royal glamour, since this was the story of an ordinary girl (a dairy farmer in fact) who enters of marriage of convenience with a prince. I did wonder for a moment or two how Luisa's blonde hair had morphed into what appear to be lovely long, dark locks. I did ponder the castle so beautifully lit to gold (I'd imagined an alpine setting perched high on a mountain). But the feel of it, and particularly the intensity of that look between Raul and Luisa was spot on.

Then just a couple of days ago, I found the North American Presents cover of the same book. The cover gods must have been smiling on me for I love that cover too. Again, Raul and Luisa are embracing, and Raul is looking darkly handsome. This cover doesn't have the same focus on the royal theme in the book (no castle in sight) but I smiled when I saw it, as the cosy wood panelling and the sense of intimacy in the room, remind me of that intensity between the couple in the story. Even surrounded by courtiers so often, and with the eyes of the public on them whenever they step outside, what sticks in my mind is the intimacy that grew so quickly between Luisa and Raul, and I feel this cover captures that perfectly. Maybe it's coincidence but I enjoyed the fact that it hints that they manage to turn a royal castle into a home. Plus the model for Luisa is just as I'd pictured her!

That's not always the way. Take Rafiq in THE SHEIKH'S RANSOMED BRIDE. Handsome as he is, the model for this cover lacks one thing Rafiq had - shoulder length black hair (usually hidden or tied back, except in the bedroom). I assume the decision was made to give him short back and sides because that might appeal to more readers. I understand that and it doesn't bother me, though it did make me grin, especially when I saw the Russian edition which had the same illustration, but with the addition of a long mullet - superimposed long dark hair to go with the short cropped sides.

By contrast, here's the same book in manga (comic book) edition. This is my first English language comic book - just out! This Rafiq has long hair and is certainly dashing. The illustrations inside focus a lot on the theme of his pirate ancestry which is lots of fun. I think the cover captures beautifully the whole exotic Arabian Nights feel of the story and I know I'd be tempted to pick it up and browse on the basis of that. For me it's fascinating to see how two such different interpretations of the same characters and situation still manage to evoke certain similar themes.

Do you have a favorite cover? Favorite styles of covers? Do you buy on the basis of a cover? I'd love to hear what other readers think and I'll forward a selection of signed cover flats to one person, chosen at random, who leaves a comment.

If you want to find out more about the books mentioned here, you'll find details and excerpts on my
website. PRINCE OF SCANDAL is released in May (UK) and mid July (US), while the comic book of THE SHEIKH'S RANSOMED BRIDE is available now from Amazon in 2 parts.

Thank you everyone who stopped by and who left a comment. I've drawn a prize winner and it's JENNIFER TANNER. Congratulations, Jennifer! If you send me a message at with your postal address I'll send your signed cover flats on to you.


  1. Hi Annie,

    Congratulations on the release of PRINCE OF SCANDAL and I love all the covers! They all are so gorgeous!

  2. Nas, it's nice of you to drop by. Thanks for the congratulations. As you can tell, I'm so happy with the way this book as turned out. Aren't the covers fun?

  3. Hi, Annie! Congrats on your latest release!

    Your covers for Prince of Scandal are gorgeous! I do love that intense gaze between brunette Luisa and Raul in the first cover.

    The manga edition of The Sheikh's Ransomed bride is fun! Only the cover and the first page are in colour (on my e-reader, anyway). The rest is in black and white. But, yes, Rafiq's hair is ebony and flows well past his shoulders.

  4. Vanessa, thanks for the report on the English language manga edition. I've got the paperback Japanese one and it's all black and white except for the cover. I must say the depiction of Rafiq as a sheikh samurai with a touch of pirate thrown in was very appealing.

    Thanks for the congratulations on PRINCE OF SCANDAL. I was so lucky with the wonderful covers - not one but two! Yes, it's the intense look between Luisa and Raul that works for me particularly. Just perfect for the story I think.

  5. Annie, love, love, love that American cover. It's so romantic and very much how I pictured the characters when I read your wonderful book. On the other hand, the intensity is wonderful in the British edition. I've just had a blond hero who ended up dark-haired on a cover so I feel your pain. ;-) By the way, you're definitely at the top of the cool ladder with your manga editions! Wow!

  6. Hi Anna,

    One of the unexpected outcomes of writing romance is that my kids and their friends think it's cool that I have manga editions. Makes me grin every time!

    Ah, it's funny how hair colour seems to change on covers but they do say a dark haired hero is very popular, so I can understand it. I don't really mind on this one, just found it interesting. I'm just hoping readers don't mind the disparity. Isn't the North American cover romantic? And the UK one has a touch of drama. I've got my fingers crossed my Girl in a Bedouin Tent later in the year gets such lovely covers.

  7. Annie,

    The UK cover sort of reminds me of a movie poster, especially with your name in big letters as if you've got top billing! (As you should, of course.)

    I don't have a favorite type of cover, but the too-cute-sugar-sweet or over-the-top-pheremonal kind of cover always get an eyeroll response from me.

    Congrats on the new release!!
    Jen :)

  8. Annie, I love those covers for Prince of Scandal - both of them are gorgeous but I especially like the one with the castle along the bottom. The intensity between the man and woman is delicious!

    I think the cover I got for Marriage Reunited: Baby on the Way is fabulous. It was a bride... even though the couple in the book were actually already married and teetering on the verge of divorce at the start of the story!

    I really really like the cover for my latest Aust/NZ release too - which reminds me... must go and put it up!


  9. Hi Jennifer,

    What an interesting idea. I'd never thought of the cover like a movie poster. I love the idea of my name up in big letters on a billboard - wouldn't that be fun.

    Isn't it interesting how some covers make you want to roll your eyes but other people love them and vice versa? I've never been a fan of the massively pregnant woman in bed with the hero type of cover but I gather it must appeal to a lot of people as I've seen so many of them. To each her own!

  10. Hi Sharon,

    There's something about a bride that attracts and holds attention, don't you think? Just look at the recent royal wedding. I can see why you scored a bride on your cover. I'm looking forward to seeing your next release.

    Interesting that you mention that intense look between Raul and Luisa. That seems popular with a few readers, me included.

  11. Hi Annie, congratulations on the launch of PRINCE OF SCANDAL and your wonderful covers
    Though both are beautiful, the first one is the one I would be most likely to pick up as I like the more contemporary look and the real connection between the characters.*Love* the manga cover for THE SHEIK'S RANSOMED BRIDE.
    As a reader, it bugs me in a romance when the cover people look substantially different from the way they are portrayed inside. That said, it would never stop me from buying the book as I don't know that until I read the story!

  12. Great covers. Congrats on your release. Have to say I like the Picture Of Innocence cover best. I'm most likely to pick up books where the cover shows the guy is bare-chested, or his shirt is open, or he's in a T-shirt that shows some muscles. What can I say? :)

  13. Congrats, Anne.
    I definitely look at the cover before buying a book. A great cover stimulates the curiosity and makes you want to read the book right away.
    My fav cover is from a book I think no one would now remember, it's Penny Jordan's Friendship Barrier. Very accurate according to the book. I feel the cover should relate to the story like your Harlequin cover. I don't know why these days scant attention is given to the details of H/h appearances while designing covers. maybe the designers are too overworked to read the book.
    That said, I loved your comment about the intensity of the look between the couple, and yes I could see that straight away.That's one of the things that makes you turn to the back and read the story and go for the buying.

  14. Hi Kandy,

    Thanks for the congratulations. The UK cover you like is part of a recent change to photographic covers for that market. I wonder what the response of UK readers has been to them.

    Sometimes covers that vary from the characters in the book give me pause, but often I don't really notice till I put the book down then do a double take - I'm often so engrossed in the story.

  15. Hi Anne,

    You don't need to say anything! I think the marketers have worked out you're definitely not the only reader to feel that way. Just look at the number of bare-chested men gracing romance covers! Obviously they're very popular. Must say for myself I do enjoy a historical cover with a man in breeches and boots!

  16. Anne, I forgot to say, I'll check out The Picture of Innocence.

  17. Hi Ruchita,

    I don't remember that cover of Penny's. That's another one for me the look for. Thanks!

    I like your comment about a cover stimulating your interest to read the back. I always think of myself as a back cover sort of girl - I'd never buy on the basis of the cover but on the text at the back. Having said that though, it's the cover that catches my eye first, along with the author name.

  18. Thanks everyone for dropping by and talking covers with me. I had to resort to a random draw to choose a winner for those signed cover flats. And the winner is: JENNIFER TANNER! CONGRATULATIONS Jen! If you email me at with your postal address I'll get the prize in the mail to you.