I want to conduct a little experiment. Head on over to your bookshelf and choose a book. Take a look at the cover. What do you see? More importantly – how do you feel? For eons we have been told not to judge a book by its cover – but for those who design romance book covers – that’s exactly what they want you to do.
Every texture, every picture, every font and every colour has been carefully and painstakingly chosen by a designer who is trying to help you judge the contents of the book you’re holding by its cover.

While you will still find some romance novels adopting a more traditional approach of a bare chested lothario and a love-struck heroine – today’s storylines are taking covers in new directions.

Modern romance covers can range from sexy couple shots to lone wolf heroes and heroines or even quirky illustrations of places rather than people. Cover direction depends on the storyline, the tone of the book or author requests and can also reflect the current culture the book is released in.
A shift towards more independent and powerful heroines means more covers now contain female-centred design.
There is no doubt the cover of a book is an incredibly important aspect when it comes to selling your book. There are a number of aspects you need to think about including what experience the reader can expect as well as how the cover will translate on shelves and screens. Book cover designers are experts in navigating all these aspects and transforming ideas into pictures.
Lucy Rhodes is a romance book cover designer and a romance writer. She explains the process of designing a book cover as translating thought into raw emotion. “As a designer, my job is to consider how every single element of design influences human emotion. This filters down to minute details, not just fonts, colours and stock images. I consider things like colour saturation, brightness of light, depth of shadows, element placement, the expressions on model’s faces, how textured their skin is, lens flares, clouds in the sky, beads of sweat, and any number of other things.”
As Lucy explains, every element of the cover is thought about in order to bring the story to life, to help the reader understand the story within the pages and to capture the essence of what the author is trying to say.
These days, however, a book cover designer needs to think about more than story. Michelle Zaiter-Jibrail, a book designer at HarperCollins Publishers ANZ says that with eBooks accounting for such a large percentage of romance novel sales, they have had to adapt cover designs to suit this medium.
“Before we approve any cover, we always place the chosen design in an online retail setting amongst competing titles to ensure that the title and author are legible and that the overall design is effective.
“For e-only stories we work a little differently, as we also review the covers to make sure the type is readable on e-readers.”
Both Lucy and Michelle communicate with the author and publisher of the novels to get a better idea of what the story is really about and what it is they want to convey. “First up, I ask my client to complete a design consultation form,” Lucy explains.
“This includes all the important information I need to know about both their book and their author branding, and acts as a reference for me to check things like paperback specs and spelling. Based on the consultation, I will then either discuss some potential design ideas with the client, or jump straight into the first design concept. More often than not, the consultation process allows me to produce a concept that the author wants to proceed with.”
At Harper Collins, the book designer receives direction from the Art Director, however the author is still given final approval for their covers. Ultimately escapism is the name of the game and Michelle uses her skills in design to create covers that evoke feelings of fantasy and romanticism with readers.

“We always try to make romance covers as beautiful as possible … never underestimate the power of a beautifully coloured sky!”

The cover of the novel in your hand is cleverly used to enable readers to discover clues that allow them to figure out if a book will be the escape they’re looking for.
So by all means, go ahead and judge a book by its cover. ♥
#blushmagazine #coverdesign #romancelandia

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