Is liking the cover Step 1 when purchasing a novel?

A while back I did a couple of presentations on 'The Man in RoMANce.' I put forward the argument that surely more males should be both writing and reading Romance novels, given that about fifty percent of those in romantic relationships are male.


Although 'Romance' is a broad category, (Amazon lists over twenty sub-genres), perhaps it's the word itself that has off-putting connotations  - "a dream come true", "in search of my soulmate", "you're the one for me" - these, let's be truthful, may be enough to scare off many would-be readers, female and male.


Those who've read my novels will know that although I'm sometimes categorised within the 'Romance' genre, I don't do lovey-doveyness. My novels set out to be humorous, bitter-sweet journeys for protagonists in search of love while carting around lorry-loads of baggage. 


So what should my covers look like, because attraction to a cover is possibly the first step for a reader when deciding whether to buy? Despite there being that wide choice of Romance sub-genres, the range of covers is somewhat limited. The Amazon best sellers list largely consists of cartoony formats (RomCom and ChickLit) or photos of hunky men and/or swooning women. I used the slide below during my presentation. Would many of these top-seller covers entice a male reader? 

Initially, I self-published, using the first row of matching covers below to suggest that all was not well for my characters' relationships. When Accent Press  published my novels, they adopted a very different design, as shown in the second row below. I stuck to their style when I self-published 'Jack and Jill went Downhill'.

When taken on by Endeavour Media for 'Jack and Jill went Downhill' and we began to consider the cover, I was keen to move away from the previous look. The end result bears no resemblance to my original thoughts, but I'm delighted with the outcome - its simplicity and clean lines - and I'll be using similar designs for a further two novels close to publication. 

If attraction to the cover really is the vital first step for the reader in deciding whether to investigate a novel further, ultimately the test of impact will be number of sales. 


Next step for the potential reader is possibly the blurb. This is mine: At Freshers Big Party Night at university it's love at first sight. Jack and Jill share the joke that their names match those of the nursery rhyme. They fail to recognise that their lives are about to play out the plot. Can their relationship survive?

I hope you're tempted to read it. The book is now available on Amazon here.

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    © 2013 R J Gould