Since August 1st my book, A Faerie Fated Forever - Book 1 of my Forever Series - is free on almost all venues. Over 23,431 people (as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, 8/16) have downloaded the book on Amazon alone. If you haven't picked it up yet, click THIS LINK and then click the button to your Reader. It's free for just about everybody but Sony Reader owners (Sony hasn't been posting updates from Smashwords for a while now, I've changed prices, added The Duke of Eden, and the changes are out and about everywhere but Sony. Email them and ask them why Faerie isn't free on their site!) If you do own a Sony Reader, click the Smashwords button for your free copy. Everybody go get it now - we'll wait.
Done yet? Yet? Okay, let's continue.
One of the reviews on Amazon inspired this post. Here's the review page for Faerie, the review was from MM on August 12th. It's 3 stars and is headed "ok...definitely not for kids." As you can see, the reviewer felt Faerie was a combination of a fairy tale and modern romance novel. And this reviewer likes fairy tales but gives modern romance novels a pass. The reviewer's pretty smart because her description is pretty close to the mark in saying the book is part fairy tale, part romance novel. She says parts of it are over the top (since that's how I describe my "unique" voice - I surely don't disagree). And I want to make it clear that I'm not dissing the review or the reviewer - I truly and deeply appreciate every reader who takes the time to leave a review. This post is the polar opposite of a "dis." I'm writing it because the reviewer made me think and I thought this blog might be a good place to gather some opinions.
MM says that BASED ON THE COVER IMAGE she didn't expect Faerie to contain explicit sexual descriptions and thought it was something "for a much younger crowd." But truthfully, Faerie is a very sensual story that takes the reader right inside the bedroom. It does contain graphic sexual descriptions. The cover of the book shows a faerie dusted couple holding hands in a beautiful meadow. Okay, they weren't rolling around in a mad clench but - to me - holding hands with the person who holds your heart can be a very intimate experience.
Now, take a look at the cover for my newest book, The Duke Of Eden. It shows an oh-so-yummy bare-chested, man-tittie-showing hunk standing in a wild garden at the foot of some ancient, moss covered steps. The beads of sweat on his chiseled chest suggest that he might've been up to some pretty naughty things. But you know what? When I read MM's review and thought about it, I realized that in Duke, there aren't really any explicit sexual descriptions. There's lust aplenty and some grappling and groping, but the book never takes the reader into the bedroom. But I'll bet you the prettiest duck in the pond that MM would've automatically passed on Duke, based on the cover alone.
Is it an obligation of a romance book cover to illustrate the heat level of the book?
I've never thought about this, but my instinctive reaction is -- no it's not. But I'll bet some people disagree on this point. I have books of all heat levels on my keeper shelves and some of the raciest look the most innocuous. Some of the milder books have hunky men or a couple in a clench on the cover. I think the cover just illustrates what the cover artist considered to be one of its "selling" features. It could be the hero, the heroine, something that symbolizes the story, or just a pretty shot of the area where the story occurs. You can't tell a book by its cover.
I've been after my DH - who is the graphics genius who designs my smashing covers - to re-do all the old book covers to feature lots and lots of man titted yumminess. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, I like a well-chiseled chest as much as the next lady - and better than some, apparently. But mostly, I think that the racier images help sales. On the endless expanses of the virtual bookshelves, a customer clicks rapidly from one page to the next. Think of your own habits with anything from ebook shopping to browsing a merchant's site for a new gadget or gizmo. Something has to make you stop on one page rather than another. That something is often the art on the page.
But in the age of the virtual bookstore where the hands clicking the pages could belong to a thirtysomething someone or a fourteen-year-old someone - Do Virtual Covers Have More Of An Obligation to Accurately Illustrate The Heat Level? And if we create some code, what are the odds that the result would be authors adding heat in order to qualify for the hotter cover or the warning label? You'll recall something similar happened with the labels on video games and with the movie ratings. The cold hard fact is - heat sells.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions. So let me have 'em - now DISH!!!
Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Romances
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