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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Following the Historical (Not Hysterical) Trend

Saturday my husband, daughter, and I met a good friend for breakfast. He is actually my husband's friend from college. As often happens with college buds, they lost touch and moved to different parts of the country. Then by some weird twist of fate, they ended up in the same town about thirteen years later and ran into each other at the Kwik Trip. Anyway, that's a story in itself, but after knowing Herman for seven years myself, I understand why my husband was so happy to renew their friendship. Besides being a great all-around guy, he is a great conversationalist.

So... back to Saturday's breakfast convo. Somehow we started talking about sports and romance, and how there is a trend of sports related romance novels on the market. Not just the sports you might expect, but MMA (mixed martial arts) and rugby, to name a couple. I told them about how Harlequin even found a little niche with NASCAR fans. This came as a surprise to both of the guys, and Herman asked, "How do you know what the trends are?"Just by paying attention to what books are being released and selling well, you can see trends emerging.

My 1st cover
One of my favorite trends to keep up with are covers. I love cover art. The first time I see my cover is thrilling! It's even better than when the box of books arrive. (Although I hug a book every time I receive my author copies and carry it around for a while until I can bear to part with it. Then it goes on a special shelf in my bookcase.) 


When I sold to Sourcebooks in 2010, the trend was headless heroes and heroines, but by the time my book debuted in 2013, heads were almost back in fashion. Note Lord Andrew is only missing the top part of his head. (Yeah, I know. Who's looking at his head?) Then I was lucky enough to get in at the beginning of the hot-heroes-in-white-shirts-and-faces trend. Now I've spotted white-shirt/bare-chest heroes on books by NY Times bestselling authors, such as Mary Balog and Grace Burrows. I don't know how long this trend will last, of course, but what's not to love about nobility in half-dress?

A new trend I've been noticing are covers where the hero is looking directly at the reader when the heroine is with him. I have mixed reactions to this trend. If the hero and heroine are enjoying an intimate moment and the hero is staring at me, it can make me feel like a Peeping Tom. One cover that really works for me is Shana Galen's "The Spy Wore Blue".  Maybe it works because his look says, "Nobody better mess with this lady. She's mine." And isn't that one of the reasons we read romance?


Seeing the hero and heroine in a romantic embrace where they are completely lost in each other doesn't make me feel like a perv, though. Go figure. I guess I just don't want to get caught in the act of peeping. LOL  



I also love covers where the hero and heroine are both looking at the reader. The message is "We are equals, and we're going to kick some arse side-by-side." 


Oddly, I don't feel like I'm intruding when the heroine is looking at the reader during an intimate moment. (Why the double-standards, Sam? I honestly don't know.) One of my favorite examples is one of Deb Marlowe's books. 


And I'm a little partial to this one too. 

Release Date: Jan 7, 2014
One trend that seems to have staying power is the girl in the pretty dress. Head or no head doesn't seem to make much difference. It's all about the dress! 





What are some cover trends you've noticed in your favorite sub genres? What do you like to see on covers? 

   

30 comments:

  1. Honestly saying I love the last trend you mentioned, Samantha. Pretty dresses are always the in-thing! Don't you agree? :)

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    1. I'm always drawn to the pretty dress covers for historical romance. They catch my eye and they have a fairytale feel to them. :)

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  2. Love your new Rogue cover, Samantha!

    I do like the ones where the characters are eyeing the reader. Unbuttoning Miss Hardwick is one of my favorite covers! But I'm with Simi, I just love the long, flowing gown covers. Sigh. To me, they say Historical Romance!

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    1. Thank you, Deb! You have a beautiful flowing gown cover for The Love List. It's another one of my favorites. :)

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  3. Hi Samantha!
    I love looking at covers--they say so much about the story before you even open the cover. I am oblivious enough that I don't pay attention to trends (I should, I know), just whatever catches my eye. A good cover will have me enthralled for a time, no matter the genre or trend. :D

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    1. I agree, Andris. I like covers that pull me into the story. In fact, your cover for Angel Unleashed does that for me. I love photos of doors or gates, and even though this cover has a slightly scary feel, the woman with the sword makes me think it may be a bumpy road ahead, but it's all going to be okay. :)

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  4. Thank you for this morning's eye candy. Everyone of these covers is a winner for me! I do love the pretty dress covers; they just say Historical Romance. (But of course, do I mind those unbuttoned shirts? Not on your life!)

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    1. Yeah, I suppose if we MUST look at unbuttoned shirt covers, I can tolerate it. ;)

      But the pretty dresses do say historical. No way around it.

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  5. As an artist I've always been drawn to the step back and more artsy covers. For the most part anyone can slap a male/female on a cover and then tweak it to make it look right, but the old step backs took time to design. Don't get me wrong I love seeing the likes of Paul Marron and the likes on covers, I just wish there was more art work on them. Sara Humphrey's newest series has fantastic graphics on them as they are more then just people.

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    1. Explain to me again what the step back is. Is that where you open the first page and it has the larger picture? I love those too, because it gives you a glimpse on the cover and then opens up another world on the next page. I think as digital becomes more and more popular we won't see those as much. :(

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    2. I should add that I think paranormal authors are more likely to get kick-butt covers with more art. I think because there aren't as many real world boundaries for the artist. Their imagination gets a little more free reign. :)

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    3. A step back is a cover that is plain but when you open it you will get the guy/girl or a scenery type picture. Eloisa James would often get many of the step backs.

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  6. Well, honestly, I love most of the genre of covers you mentioned. And I agree with you, I don't really like when the hero or heroine is looking at the reader during an intimate moment! strange! I love your covers Samantha, very sensual! I love Shana Galen's covers, specially the ones for her Spies stories. I noticed a big difference between the covers of today and the ones from 5-10 years ago. They are now more appealing! I sometimes, buy a book just by it's cover!

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    1. Thank you, Nicole. I love my covers! And Shana's spy covers are some of my favorites. They look so sassy.

      Probably the worst trend was the Fabio-on-every-cover-just-change-his-hair-color-and-no-one-will-notice. LOL

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  7. Samantha,

    I love the cover of One Rogue Too Many. I haven't really been following the trends. I just know if I like a cover or not - lol. One thing that does bug me is if I can't tell the era of a romance, which is why clothing is so key. The pretty dresses usually give away the era by style, but I've skipped over covers that don't give me a clue to when the story takes place and grab the more obvious cover for what I am in the mood to read.

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    1. Thank you, Jane! There is something very striking about the heroine that I liked right away.

      It is nice when you can tell the era from the cover. Sometimes I'm not 100% sure either.

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  8. Ooooh, what a fun topic!!! And these covers are all gorgeous. I've been reading historical romance since I was 13. At that time, there seemed to be a trend of floral covers. Or signets. Or seals. But there didn't seem to be people featured. I've noticed the shift to the hero and heroine on the cover. I'm not a fan of the male staring at me-cover, partly for the reason you mention (I feel like a voyeur in an intimate moment) but more so because it takes the heroine out of the moment and the relationship is about them, not me. I think you've hit the nail on the head (pun intended) with the trend in historical romance/regency. For me, I like the pretty gown, or the hero only partially revealed. I don't need to see the characters on the cover, for me, the joy of reading is seeing them in my mind. Great topic!!!

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    1. So true, Christi. The book is about their relationship. I hadn't thought about it displacing the heroine in her own story.

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  9. I like colors! Something that will catch my eye and make me look twice (this usually involves a dress of some sort.)

    But I also love lush backgrounds that draw me in and make me want to dive into that world.

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    1. Me too! I love rich colors and period appropriate, detailed settings. Sometimes the background is more interesting than the hero or heroine.

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  10. Samantha, your Beau Monde Bachelor covers are terrific! You made me a fan of Paul Marron & now I sometimes have to have a book if he is on the cover! LOL! I am not particular about the type of cover, as long as it is pretty or has a hot guy. I am loving some of the cowboy covers by Carolyn Brown (see Mistletoe Cowboy)& Lori Wilde (All Out of Love).Lori Foster has some hot guy pictures with the heads, too! The historicals with girls in pretty gowns with or without the hero are great, too. Also, for contemporary, Jill Shalvis & Kristan Higgins have some cute covers with the couples in a larger background. Color is good in all of the above. I am partial to blue!

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    1. I'm very happy with my covers featuring Paul. I had no idea people knew who the models were until he showed up on Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half. His fans are so friendly and fun. I actually met one of the Marronites in person this summer in Atlanta that I got to know through his FB page. And I met her friend and we all had a lovely dinner together.

      It was odd how having him on my cover opened up a new world of friends for me and has made this experience extra fun. I'm pretty fond of PM. Wish I could have him on Benjamin Hillary's book some day. Then all three Hillary brothers would be the same model. That would make a good fun fact! :)

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    2. Did they photoshop Daniel's picture? I actually only found out who Paul was because of your FB post with the coloring video!

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    3. From what I heard, the illustrator used an old picture of Paul and altered it a little. She wanted to use the same person since the guys are related in my books.

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  11. I love the girl in the pretty dress trend and I also love the trend of the man wearing a possessive look. A trend I've noticed in paranormal a cover trend is to have a close up of a gorgeous Nan's face with dazzling eyes. I live this trend!

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    1. What's a Nan? I'm not familiar with that term.

      Dazzling eyes are a definite yes. I love eyes and eyebrows. And hands. LOL

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  12. Hehe I like these trends. Personally I'm partial to the intimate embrace between hero and heroine. Covers that have both the hero and heroine together I like, as opposed to only the heroine or only the hero, just because I'd like a sense of what they look like in my head. ^_^ The headless covers are okay too, and leaves a lot for imagination. Traditional covers of Signet Regency are better than the re-editions of then, I find.

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    1. I really like the hero and heroine together too, but not in a weird pose where one of them looks in pain. LOL

      I really love when they are just face to face staring into each other's eyes. :)

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  13. I like couples because it looks like it's a romance. :)

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    1. I like couples too. It shows they are equally important. (On a side note, I remember entering a writing contest when I first started writing and the feedback I got was the judge couldn't tell if the woman or the man was the protagonist. I think the judge wasn't familiar with romance. lol)

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