We've all been told not to judge a book by its cover, and most of the time, we try not to, but how many times have we picked up a book merely because we liked the artwork? Or initially passed by a book that would, in time, become a favorite, because we didn't like the cover? Maybe you've mistaken one book for another because Current Cover Trend X is hot, hot, hot, and it seems like every book looks the same. Maybe you've missed the newest entry in a favorite author's ongoing series because the cover of the new book looks nothing like the covers of the previous books, or bought the same book twice because new cover art had to mean new book, right? How about snickering over books shelved in the wrong section because someone thought the cover looked "romancey" or "not romancey enough?" Apart from "romancey" not being a word, it's difficult to define what "a romance cover" should look like.
Should a sassy contemporary have the same sort of cover as lush historical? A sweet Regency as a steamy erotica? How confusing would that be? Besides the different visual indicators across the subgenera, there's the ever changing standards of attractiveness. Remember covers with mustaches and mullets on historical as well as contemporary heroes? Hot stuff back in the day, but now, eh, not so much. Makes me wonder what romance fans are going to think of today's covers in twenty years' time, and what new frontiers romance covers will explore in that not-too-distant future.
Now, dear readers, I turn it over to you. What do you look for in a romance novel's cover? If you could design the perfect cover, what would that look like? Would it be different for different subgenra; paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc? Or would you be happy to have everything leatherbound, with the title and author's name stamped in gold foil? Okay, maybe that last one is a tad on the fanciful side, but I bet at least some of you are imagining exactly that. Is there a cover trend you'll be happy to see fade away, or one you'd like the industry to embrace? If you could make one rule for all cover artists to embrace for the next year, what would that be? Pull up a chair and let your voice be heard in our comment section.