Thursday, October 22, 2009


Posted by: Genene Valleau
Current Project: nine-book series
Status: going great!

Ack! I was going to do a fun post about bare-chested guys on covers. Got totally wrapped up in plotting my series of books and didn't get it done. 

Soooo... I'm asking for your help. Please post or provide a link to your favorite book that has a bare-chested guy on the cover. Yes, this is probably a very politically incorrect and sexist blog post and my apologies in advance to anyone it might offend. 

And a question: does a hunky hero on the cover help sell books?

Here's my hunky hero, actually the second cover for FEATHERS ON THE FLOOR (the first cover had only the cuddly teddy bear):

And I'm going to be away from my computer most of the day, so I'm looking forward to what you come up with!


Alice Sharpe said...

No help from me, Genene. I'm really not a fan of hunky guys with bare chests on covers. I have no idea if it sells a book. I see them on Intrigues at times and am always glad my covers haven't gone there.

The only one I can comment on is Eli's MARKED and I like that because of the images of tattoos on his arms and the big interesting mark across his front.

I know other people will help you out!

Paty Jager said...

My editor for Doctor in Petticoats told me to ask for a bare chested guy on my cover. She said it will sell more books. So it will be interesting to see if it does sell better than the first three books just because it has a bare chested man on it.(Although I think he looks about 16)

Stacy Kayne has done well with her historical westerns with hunky covers.

Bethany said...

Eli's cover is awesome. However, I'm not going to buy a book just because it has a hot guy on it :P I'm not really crazy about the trend for the waxed-and-buff male model covers that are borderline not-safe-for-work-traveling-and-small-children. But, when it suits the storyline, it's a nice little extra. Looking at my keeper shelf, there isn't as much man-titty (thank you Smart Bitches for coining this) as you might expect given my reading tastes. In the name of research, here are some of my favorite shirtless covers:
Lori Foster's Hard to Handle. This whole series about extreme fighters had hot, hot, hot covers, which really suited the uber-athlete heroes.
Kresley Cole's Dark Needs at Night Edge. A lot of her books have shirtless heroes. I like this one b/c hero isn't the most likable for much of this book, and the cover shows a softer, redeemable hero.
Lisa Hendrix's Immortal Warrior. This is a kick-ass cover, but I'm not as crazy about the model who bears too much resemblance to Fabio, but the bare-chested thing really works here.
Theresa Medieros, Some like it Wild, the inside cover flap is a awesome because it shows hero in all his sexy scots glory and contrasts nicely with the lonely heroine on the cover, showing a lot about the story just through that.
Shannon Mckenna's Ultimate Weapon, this is his *entire* back, not his front, but I thought it might qualify :P This is a dark, dark, dark novel, with an anti-heroine and anti-hero to the extreme, but the cover shows a strong hero with just a hint of vulnerability. It takes the entire book for hero to reveal that same vulnerability, and I think the cover shows hero's potential nicely.
Karen Maire Moning's To Tame A Highland Warrior was one of the first in the headless-chest cover trend and still one of the best b/c it fits the story so well.

What my little persusal shows me is that a cover has to match the story for me to deem it great. I recently pitched a book at the wall that had a bare chested guy in all his glory and no love scenes other than a tiny one at the very end. If you put a naked guy on the cover, as a reader I'm expecting a lot of heat, innuendo, and passion throughout the story. Also, a naked guy cover pretty much = extreme alpha hero, so you know a naked guy cover doesn't work that well for hero who is a chef or an art dealer (both of whom I've seen given the shirtless treatment).

Bethany said...

Oh, and Paty, I have a special place in my heart for shirtless Cowboy covers. Yum. (Again, though, I like to see passion to back it up, and you certainly have that. I've seen a few shirtless cowboy books where sexual tension really isn't a huge part of the plot, and that's a bit of let-down as a reader).

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Alice! I'm glad you mentioned Eli's cover, because that was one that got me going on this topic. Christine Young also has a nice shirtless model on SAFARI MOON and she has encouraged me to heat up my covers a bit. (As if pianos and guitars don't say romance. LOL!)

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Paty! I'll be interested in hearing if DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS sells more also. Though how can you tell if it's the cover or the story or all the hard work promoting that you've been doing?

And, yeah, I know what you mean by the models looking so young. That doesn't sell me on the story at all!

It's interesting how Stacy Kayne's covers have been done.

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Bethany! Thank you for all your comments--and I so much appreciate your research. :)

"If you put a naked guy on the cover, as a reader I'm expecting a lot of heat, innuendo, and passion throughout the story..." as well as an alpha hero. And maybe this is why I struggle with shirtless hunks on my covers. Though the hero may be alpha, I don't write multiple scorching love scenes in each book.

I also found it interesting that the cover that comes up for Lori Foster's HARD TO HANDLE on some seller's sites is a barbell, not a bare chest. Another site says it's a stock photo and not the actual cover. Hmm...

Maybe that also reflects your comment about some covers being "borderline not-safe-for-work-traveling-and-small-children." Some sites may be concerned about their rating.

I also like your comment about SOME LIKE IT WILD that contrasts a hunky hero inside with the lonely heroine on the front. I've also seen "clinches" done on the back or inside cover with a scenic front cover and thought that was a nice change that still conveyed the tone of the romance.

Thank you for sharing some of your favorites!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Thanks for all the nice comments on my cover. I didn't have any say in it, but I'm not complaining. I think it looks great.

Hmm...Interesting observations, Bethany. :) I would agree that a shirtless hero on the cover signals a hot read and an alpha male. For my paranormal series, the publisher is putting the emphasis on the heroes, as the series is based on the heroes from Greek myth, and therefore the books really are all about them. In the context of Bethany's alpha male, hot read requirements, these shirtless covers work. While I always tend to write alpha males, these books are definitely more alpha and a bit hotter than my adventures.

Genene, it's timely that you brought this up. The Borders blog this week had a discussion as to whether romance readers prefer men on covers (like my cover), women on covers, like Lisa Kleypas's recent cover, or a couple (like my adventure covers. The majority of readers who commented said they preferred men on covers as it's the hero that most women read romances for. I found that interesting.

And as for the "waxed" look, there was also a recent discussion on the Borders blog a few weeks ago about the waxed male chest. I have to admit, I was happy to see my cover had a little bit of chest hair. I'm not into the whole Big Foot hairy chest thing, but a little chest hair makes the guy look more my opinion.

Fun topic, Genene. I was going to talk about this next week, but you beat me to it!

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Eli! Interesting discussion on the Borders' blog about covers and what readers prefer: men's chests, women's backs, hero/heroine together. I'm just delighted that there are so many beautiful book covers being produced.

Sorry to steal your topic. Maybe it's one that deserves to be revisited. :)

Bethany said...


Just my two cents, but if you don't write hot (and that's totally okay--you write gorgeous, warm, witty books), choose covers that are similar in tone to covers of NYT authors with a similar style. I find you similar to Debbie Macomber, Catherine Anderson, Susan Wiggs, early Nora Roberts, Terry McLaughlin, and others of that ilk. Since you have say over your covers (lucky duck), I would research them for ideas. I particularly love Susan Wiggs's latest cover--Lakeshore Christmas. It makes me want to grab some hot cocoa and sit down for a long read.

Genene Valleau said...

Gosh, Bethany, I'm humbled to be mentioned in the same paragraph as some of my favorite authors.

However, I've also noticed detailed covers may be lovely on a printed book but can look like a mush of colors when they are reduced to an inch or so wide, which is the size they come out when listed for sale on e-book sites or or other places online. That's given me a new appreciation of simple yet elegant. :)