If anyone has two cents to share, give me your opinion on paperback covers. I’ve published most of my erotic stories in paperback in addition to electronic form for those who like to hold something while reading.
What I’ve previously done was to convert the original electronic cover image into a similar one for the paperback. My quandary is this, should I create a generic (non-sexual) cover for my print books instead of the more explicit current version?
As Foxy has pointed out, some people don’t appreciate my cover art when out in public. I’m thinking about redoing all of my print books to have a more G-rated cover but would like my readers input on this.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at Larry [at] LarryArcher.com.
I’m Larry Archer, a simple writer of smut stories in both print and electronic format. Foxy and I are swingers in real life, and I write about the things we do and see. While the Lifestyle is not for everyone, it’s been fun for us. My smut is explicit and hardcore but with a somewhat plot. My porn stories are generally positive and fun as this reflects how enjoyable swinging has been to us. If you’re interested in checking out my stories, I publish at all the typical outlets.
My thought are that if a more G-rated cover will keep people buying and reading your works, fine; I think that some people want to be… enticed by the cover but not be “punched in the face” with an R or X-rated cover. The cover, obviously, is the first thing we see and if it “hints” at being smutty, well, let’s check it out. Like, the cover of “House Party” – above – isn’t what I’d call offensive, but some might feel that it is and, well, you can’t make everyone happy about what they see.
And now it’s about who’s idea of G-rated you’re talking about – and you might want to really think about this. I see the nice boob on that woman on the cover and it’s enough to get me to want to know what’s on the other side of the cover because it “hints” at something that the cover isn’t really saying, if you know what I mean. In the stuff I’d published, I never bothered with covers… because I couldn’t think of any that would “send the message” to a reader that said, “Yeah, you really want to buy and read this…”
But, um, smut isn’t G-rated, is it? Is it the cover art that gets the most interest or the title of the book? You might want to consider covers that you can see for romance novels; they’re fairly G-rated although the sex they contain isn’t so G-rated – but it’s the title that gets a lot of people reading them and while there isn’t anyone who doesn’t know what a bare tit signifies, does “House Party” resonate and make a connection with a potential reader and more so when, chances are, they don’t know what a house party is like you and I know they are.
So methinks it’s not just the cover art but also that since the first thing a potential reader sees is the cover, it must… send a message as well as the title and while that cover on “House Party” is pretty tame, there are just some folks who might see it as too risque for their sensibilities. And you do have to meet the standards of Amazon, Smashmouth, or whoever you use to sell your smut, right? A book that’s entitled, “Hot Wives of Las Vegas” might get lots of attention without any cover art, right, and the title alone could “offend” someone.
I’ve seen some of your covers and, personally, they’re pretty tame and if I weren’t reading your blog and know what’s behind the cover, eh, I might not be curious enough to buy the book and see what the hell you’re really writing about. But that’s me…
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The problem you run into is that some of the distributors are more tight assed than others about a cover, such as Apple and Amazon. With an electronic copy, the only time you really see the cover is when you buy the book but with an actual “book” it’s out in the public. Unfortunately, you have to play by the rules to avoid getting blocked or banned. The line is often gray and it’s hard to figure out just exactly have far over the line you can go without getting your hand slapped.
And therein lies the real problem, huh? What is acceptable to those distributors? Given how many problems you’ve had with covers, it’s not the reading public who’s making you rethink this – it’s them and their screwy and prudish standards. Really… you’re writing smutty erotica and the cover should reflect that in some way; otherwise, no one looking for smut is going to give your smut a look because the cover is PG-13.
I see a Larry Archer book and the cover has a fully-dressed and pretty woman just looking pretty and I might not even pay attention to the title because the cover art isn’t grabbing me because it’s not… suggestive enough. It probably does you no good to ask those prudish distributors to be more exacting and even blunt about what their cover art standards are and then be consistent and not put you in jail because the person viewing it is having a bad day and is just rejecting covers out of hand…
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The basic problem is there are not a set of definitive rules to follow, and every distributor has a slightly different set of rules (it appears). Typically there is no one to ask a question, and as usual, you’re dealing with someone in the Far East who doesn’t have a good grasp of the English language. If you get banned or blocked, it is often the end of the road for your account.
It is not practical to create different books for every distributor, so you have to create a book that meets everyone’s rules. At least, that’s my position.
If you’ve been in author’s forums, you would see people wringing their hands and trying to figure out what to do when their cover or story gets blocked. If you see authors get blocked, then you get paranoid about what to do.
I doubt that people are going to be reading your print books on the subway in any case. And I think you do have to signal the genre with the cover. If you don’t, you’ll get readers upset when they buy what they think is G- or R-rated and get your characteristic triple-X.
That being said, you still might want to create different covers for the print versions. You have an eye for beautiful women, so your cover images are almost always arresting, but the covers themselves are rather generic. I suspect that print readers and ebook readers are somewhat disjoint populations, so it wouldn’t hurt to offer the print folks something a bit different, maybe a bit more polished. After all, they’re paying more. And if you’re concerned about the distributors’ rules, that’s another motivation.
Something to consider is to go with much bigger font for the title and author on the cover.
There are a plethora of print books where those two items cover over 60% of the cover space, so whatever artwork there is relatively small.
Now Just so you don’t fall afoul of one of my “rules of thumb”, keep your name smaller than the title.
There are plenty of books where the author’s name is substantially bigger than the title and I tend to steer away from them, since they are clearly advertising what they think is more important.
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My point is would people be more accepting of a paperback book that didn’t have tits and ass on the front cover? 🙂 I create book covers for my wife as she reads my print stuff but not electronic.