Friday, November 19, 2010

Cover Critique: The Romance Novel

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.

Today's critique is going to be in fictional conversation format, this time between an art director and a class full of designers. Hope you enjoy:)

Art Director: Alright everyone, last week I gave you an assignment to design and execute a cover for a romance novel. You were asked to find models, oversee the photography, and create a finished layout. I believe some of the guidelines were the male models should be in good shape, we women like to ogle, and it was entirely up to you as to whether they were alone or accompanied. Let's see what you've all come up with!

Andrea, we'll start with you.

Art Director:
Gorgeous! The use of monochromatic colors is very appealing, and I like that you went against the grain and used cool blues and greens despite the title having the word "passion" in it.

Andrea: Thank you. I'm quite fond of the final product. I kind of want to lick him.

Art Director: Please refrain from saying things like that in my presence. If you feel the urge to say something along those lines coming on, I'd like to request you make a concentrated effort to suppress it. That being said, your choice of model was spot on, and props to you for including his entire head instead of just his mouth, chin, and chest as so many romance covers do.

Andrea: Heads are important.

Art Director: Thank you for that statement of fact. I'd say heads are doubly important in a romance novel, wouldn't you? Heh. Okay, moving on.

Jason, what have you got for me?

Shazam! I think what I've come up with is electric. Get it?

Art Director: Yes, and you think wrong. Very, very wrong. First of all, your model looks as though he's admiring himself in the mirror instead of giving potential readers the "come hither" stare. Second, what is that necklace?

Jason: I thought he needed a prop.

Art Director: And that necklace is the best you could come up with? Why is your model on the cover twice? Does he have a twin brother, or does he just like to watch himself with women?

Jason: Well, I thought I'd illustrate his abundance of masculinity by showing him standing alone in all his shirtless magnificence, and then also show the readers how he can pleasure a woman...magnificently.

Art Director: I suffer you to live. And stop using the word "magnificent", when used in reference to your cover it loses all meaning.

Travis, please show me all my teachings have not been lost on you as they so clearly have on Jason.

Art Director:
Well done Travis! Another beautiful use of color. Like Andrea, you chose a lovely model and created an image that's sexy while remaining tasteful. I like how all we see are the woman's hands, now we know she's there but we can project ourselves onto her and imagine ourselves in her place. It's dramatic and enticing without resorting to absurdity.

Travis: Thank you. Love it when the ladies use their nails to scratch.

Art Director: Ungh. That was entirely too much information about you. I think we're done here.

Susannah, round us out would you?

Art Director:
Care to explain yourself?

Well, I know some people like to um, dress up, in the bedroom so I wanted to illustrate that particular kink on the cover.

Art Director: I see. And when women ask their men to dress up as you say, do you think it's fuzzy pink bunny ears they want to see them in? And don't you think for a romance cover, if he's going to be in bunny ears, they should both at least be upright? Limpness is not something we want to advertise in this situation Susannah. And what's wrong with his face? He looks as though he's been mauled and can only see out of his right eye.

Susannah: I had some trouble there.

Art Director:
Clearly. A mutilated bunny is stalking this topless woman. That is terrifying Susannah. You fail.

Okay, everyone. Some of you did very well this week. Susannah and Jason, I'm going to need you both to be smarter and more talented before you can continue in my class. See you all next week.


  1. i loved the last cover, simply for the humor. I think it would sale, b/c people would be pretty curious. lol

  2. LOL! This is so fun! I like the last pic too, it made me laugh. But I can be honest and say that I won;t pick up that book simply because the book cover said," FREAKY!" I enjoy good tasteful covers. My fave is Love Mine.

  3. Hmm, not my kind of covers I'm afraid to say though there is something appealing about the firt cover. Thanks for a fun post, I look forward to more of your 'art' classes.

  4. hahahahaha Jenny, thank you for this insane amount of humour this morning! This seriously starting my crazy sleepy morning off right! All those covers make me chuckle, and you have such a funny, biting and sarcastic it! :)

  5. JENNY! BWAHAHAHAHA! This was awesome! Fave: Heads are important. I'd say heads are doubly important in a romance novel. *falls to floor laughing* Sorry I'm such a dork.

  6. Rebecca - I stared long and hard at the last cover just trying to understand.

    Savannah - I adore JM's cover even if he doesn't have a head:)

    Petty - You're welcome, glad you enjoyed!

    Melissa - Yay, glad to hear it made you laugh, that's always the goal.

    Bells - Well, they are important aren't they? It would be a disappointing romance novel if one head didn't make an appearance right?;)

  7. LMAO! It's all that purple that disturbs me about the Touch Lightning cover in addition to all that self adoration. I don't really like the Lover Mine cover either - it was too red for me and I'm kind of stunned by the Dakota Cassidy cover. She usually has amazing covers! I've bought two of her books because I was wooed by the pretty covers. I'm sure that is meant as a firmly toungue in cheek cover but it still fails on that level also.
    Fun - fun!

  8. I love when you you critique covers, Jenny. ROFL! This post made me laugh so hard that I nearly chocked on my water. Thanks for the laugh, I needed it. ;)

  9. I'm going to have to bookmark this post. I love sharing bad covers with my husband, and that last one is a hoot.

    OMG so bad. LOL

  10. Karen - You are very right, the purple is quite disorienting as well, it's all shiny and hard to look at:)

    Rummanah - Thank you! I'm glad people enjoy them:)

    Buried - The last one is my favorite, it's just brilliant!

  11. I LOVE when you critique covers! Oh my gosh I love what you said about the bunny eared one! What are these people thinking when they design covers?!

  12. One of your funniest cover critiques EVER . . . of all the covers, the last one just wins!

  13. Thanks sooo much for posting this, Jenny -- I love getting the actual designers' input and seeing them go toe to toe -- that bunny ears one?? HYSTERICAL!!! haha totally made my Friday!

    Thanks for stopping by Darkeva's again :-)

  14. Hehehe, I couldn't stop laughing, specially at the last cover xD

  15. Oh gosh was this funny! You had me rolling with your puns and innuendos, but I lost it at this line: "Limpness is not something we want to advertise in this situation Susannah" What were they thinking?!?

  16. Hysterical----you are very clever!!!!!!

  17. ROTF! What? Bunnies? I seriously can't stop laughing about the "Limpness" comment. No Bueno.

  18. OMG you had me LOL with this one! I love Gena and JR's cover, but those other two, Oh My! Im speechless!

  19. Katie - The bunny does seem to be the overwhelming favorite, it makes me giggle:)

    Anonymous - Thank you!

    Darkeva - You're welcome, so glad it made you laugh!

    Gaby - The last one gets me every time I look at it, it never gets old:)

    Small - That's what I want to know!

    Cathy - Thanks so much, I try:)

    Missie - No good at all;)

    Larissa - I find myself speechless all the time when I look for these covers, so I feel it necessary to share them with others:)

  20. WOW! You are so funny! This is my first time visiting and I will surely be back. Loved to the part about the heads haha!!

  21. I laughed so hard I cried when I scrolled down and saw that last cover. "Care to explain yourself" made me laugh even harder.

  22. Bwahahaha. I think you outdid yourself this week Jenny. Snort. I think the last cover will probably be one of my top 10 worst covers ever - you should do a round-up of it the end of the year :) I'm sure you may cause the death of me that way, but hey, if I had to die laughing, then so be it :)

  23. This is hilarious. Love that the post is like a class, studying each other's work. So funny!

  24. Mayhem and Maddie: WTF? That is just scary!

    Hilarious post - thanks!

  25. These are hilarious! I love this feature.

  26. WHERE do you find these book covers? Especially that bunny one, that is so wrong. Hilariously, wonderfully wrong. I'm still snickering over that one.

  27. "Lover Mine" is a fantastic series, I'm so sad that I'm getting near the end and that I'm going to have to wait until shes writes another one!