Friday, March 13, 2015

What’s in a Cover

Congratulations to "Amy P.", the winner in Holly's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

About six months ago, I put a bid out amongst friends to find me a cover artist.  Being self-published and new to the game, I had exactly zero contacts.  I was really surprised to get a substantial number of replies and ended up choosing one based on the person who referred me to her and her body of work.  What I didn’t know was that I was about to go up against a tried and true formula for cover art for romance novels.  Everyone I talked to said, “you need a hot guy on the cover.”  My first instinct was to say no thanks.  But then, I thought, perhaps all these writers who know what they are talking about, well, know what they’re talking about.

I asked my designer for some samples after we had extensive conversations about my vision for Finn, the ultra-hot, A-list actor who falls quickly and madly in love with Georgina. She sent me six samples and I hated all of them.  My problem was marrying my vision with the limited options for available photos of men in my budget.  The other problem I had was that I had said all along, when I get myself published, I don’t want people on the cover.  I want the reader to come up with their own version of Finn and Georgina, just like I do when I read romance.

So, I sent my designer some sample covers that I liked, my fav colours and some articles on trends in cover production and we ended up with two solid options and I fell in love with one of them.  And there are zero people on the cover.  So I’m wondering, where do you fall on the romance cover spectrum?  Full on Fabio, hot bodies with no heads (not really no heads, just not visible, or maybe headless hot zombies are your thing?) or sweet cover or something dark with bursts of colour?  I just read an article on this and it seems there are still most in the hot bod camp but there is a trend coming on for simple, clear precise covers with no people on the front.  Let me know what you think!


Georgina has built herself a quiet life following the tragic death of her husband.  She moved to LA to start her life over and has no intentions of ever falling in love again.  Her hermit existence and passion for reading and writing romance have driven her to fear the real world, but while out on a forced blind date she accidentally meets Finn Lowry.  Kind, sensitive, funny and voted one of 2014’s hottest actors, he’s hard to resist, not to mention, totally out of her league.  In order to keep her promise to herself, she needs to steer clear of him at all costs.

Finn sets out to pull Georgina back to the surface, showing her it is possible for her to find love again after living with a heart on lock down for so long.  Humor, persistence and life in the limelight come together with Finn to conspire to show Georgina the way to her heart.  Can she let go of her old insecurities and avoid Finn’s fans for long enough to let him get through to her?

“Ok, George.  Let’s do this.  Ever play twenty questions?”


“Good, you go first.”  He smiled a heart flipping, dimples out, all in smile.  Resisting this man was going to take every ounce of strength I had.

I sucked in a breath and upon its exit, crossed my arms, prepared for battle and started asking questions.  “Fine.  What’s your middle name?”


“Favourite teacher?”

“Miss Lyons.”

“Favourite sport?”


“What’s your family like?”

A storm cloud appeared behind his eyes and was quickly replaced by his dazzling smile.  “Not alive and subject closed.”

Interesting.  Someone else with skeletons in their closet.  “Ok, fair enough.  Your turn.”

He stared me down.  He looked deep in thought.  What was he going to ask me?  Suddenly this game seemed like the worst idea ever.

“Come on, out with it.  Ask me something.”

“Ok,” he said, “I’ll ask you something, but first let’s set the rules.”

“Rules?  What kind of rules?  Why are we now just setting the rules?”

“Well, for instance, only tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God.  Let’s start there.”

I started to panic.  I hardly knew this guy.  I wasn’t just going to launch into my sad and tragic story.  “When did this become the Spanish Inquisition?” 

“I can see by your face rule number one isn’t going over so well, so let’s set rule number two.  No matter how uncomfortable one of us is, there is no leaving here tonight until we are mutually agreed that the date has ended.  No leaving on harsh terms, no walking away in a huff.”


“Those are my terms.  Do you agree to the terms?”

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Holly Mortimer is a wife and mother of two daughters, residing in Stratford, ON. She started writing in high school in an Ancient Egyptian History class, penning her first piece on Cleopatra and her many loves. Her teacher immediately asked her if she had any interest in writing soap operas when she graduated.

She has just completed her debut novel, Blindsided and is currently working the second book in this series.

She loves reading, watching movies and playing with her kids, dog and family.

Holly will be giving away a copy of Blindsided to one person leaving a comment or email entry.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST March 13th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. Dear Holly, I love your article and it did make me laugh. I agree with you so completely. I am so tired of seeing air brushed body builder clones looking dangerous or sulky or defiant or rough on romance covers. They do rather remind me of all those pin-up girlie calendars women objected to. To me, so many covers look so...well...tacky. Your cover is lovely, and I think you made a wise decision. We readers do need to picture our own heroes and heroines. On my March release, Felicity's Power, there isn't a soul around either although on an earlier romance, the publisher I had insisted on a headless (mindless?) heroine. As you say, it really will be interesting to see how covers evolve. I wish you much luck with Blindsided.

    1. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and I love that covers just might be headed in interesting new directions. Thanks :)

  2. I like the clever use of your name on the cover, Holly :)

    1. Thanks! That was all my designer, absolutely no clever brain cells used by me on that one. The book takes place in LA so it worked out perfect.

  3. Covers are so important to sales but it's hard to get them right. For the most part, I don't like hot bods on covers. This is especially important to me for western romances. If there is a cowboy on the front without a shirt, I won't buy it. Cowboys don't work without shirts! I like a cover without people so I can imagine my own hero and heroine. A picture of the setting - town, house, whatever is good. I really like the cover you decided on for Blindsided. The blue sky draws me in.

  4. fun way to list your name on the cover
    not a fan of seeing the same covers on different authors' books

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. I won't buy a book solely based on the cover, but I can tell you that bad covers can immediately make me not interested in the book. Sometimes I don't even care enough to read the synopsis. While I don't mind people on the cover, if they don't appeal to me, then it's an automatic turn-off. Personally I have no problems without people on the cover, and it does seem that more and more authors are doing that.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on your thoughts Amy!

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