We’ve all heard that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I’m pretty sure most of us have done it, at least on some unconscious level. We’re visual creatures. Book covers tend to say a lot about the story, or at least we hope they do. My husband jokes that if a book cover has a dog on it, that dog is going to die for sure. He might be right.
As an aspiring romance author, I have to say that romance book covers have come a long way. The novels I hid under my bed when I was thirteen usually had Fabio, or a Fabio-esque man clad in a pirate shirt on the cover. The requisite female was always in a state of undress, either hanging on the man or arranged on the ground somewhere near his feet. Oh, and don’t forget the breeze. Their hair and clothes were forever blowing in The Breeze.
The current trend is a little different and I’m wondering how it evolved. I’m seeing a lot of headless men. I’m all for a sexy man chest, but what about their faces? From a psychological standpoint, I get it. If there’s no face, we can project whatever image we want onto the guy—I get that. But I find it interesting that twenty years ago, romance covers depicted women as “damsels in distress”, and now the woman is no longer in the picture. It’s almost as if she is behind the lens. All you see is the man. I’m just wondering if this popular phenomenon stems from the current trend in the romance genre today. Women want to read about strong, kick-ass heroines who can take charge of their own lives. Do they also want the freedom to objectify men with rock-hard abs, purely because it’s fun? Er. . . maybe? Will this trend be the thing we giggle about in twenty years: “Remember all those man-chest books?” Probably.
But who cares? I’ll take it. Publishing houses want to market what sells. If and when the glorious day comes when I finally sign a contract, you can bet your breezy pirate shirt I’ll take whatever cover the publishing house wants me to have. A headless man with a shaved chest? Why, yes. My dream guy. Slap that on the cover and let’s pop open some champagne. Just sayin’.