Ok, so what works for a Historical Romance Cover?
Well, again I gotta give mad props to the folks at Harlequin. They do good cover. Especially in their Love Inspired Line (which is a Christian Romance line, but, hey, they really do have pretty covers). Anyway, examples:
I think because they’re a Christian publisher they don’t have to worry about selling the sexiness of the story so they can do a better job selling the setting. I wish non-Christian Historicals would have attention to detail like this. I love the dress in the second cover. Just beautiful. And the rich tones of the background make the couple stand out even more. Beautiful cover. It definitely passes the “Would you grab this off the shelf?” test. I would, just to look at the little details, and the dress.
Another route is to use actual historical artwork to make your cover. This is the strategy being employed for all the current crop of Georgette Heyer reissues and the strategy has produced some really beautiful images that fit the books surprisingly well, almost as if they were painted just for the books. Like…
I love that they even have the right kind of dog on The Grand Sophy cover. I don’t know how they found an image so perfect. And I feel like the tone on The Masqueraders cover is just perfect. I can totally see the heroine looking like that. These covers are also beautiful, with a depth and richness of color you’re not going to get from just slapping something together in photoshop. They also tie-in to what I was harping about last time: Setting! The clothes, the backgrounds. They all reek of history in these covers because they are, after all, actual historical artwork. Now, sometimes these too can get a little bland or inappropriate to the book, but then sometimes, like the two covers above, the designer knocks it out of the park by finding just the right image.
So, to sum up all this cover-talk:
1. A cover should make you want to pick the book off the shelf to learn more.
2. The characters should look like the way they are described in the book. If the hero has blonde hair– give him blonde hair!
3. The heat level between the couple should be appropriate to the genre.
4. Use photoshop sparingly
And finally 5. Sex may sell but it can make for some pretty bad covers in the meantime.