Sunday, July 6, 2014

Karina Bliss asks….Cover envy – are you a nerdist or a jockster?

Anyone else seen Jaci Burton’s wonderful cover around the blogosphere? If not, look left (like you haven't already). I showed it to one of my best pals, Super author Abby Gaines.
She admired it, then casually mentioned he was built a little buff for her tastes.
This is not the first time I’ve been shocked by our differences. Abby writes a first draft in six weeks, I write mine in six months. She is Superwoman, I am Super good at making lists which will lead me to becoming Superwoman (in another lifetime).
But Abby’s throwaway comment made me think. My favourite kind of cover does not necessarily appeal to all romance readers.
Excluding professional sportsmen, Abby thinks guys who devote substantial time to working out as a bit ‘girly’. She admires a leaner frame while I have a penchant for muscle, whether it’s achieved through exercise, chopping wood or building something with those capable hands.
In fact I insist on it.
Going back through my books, a clear hero pattern emerges. The wealthy entrepreneurs in my Mr series built their empire on adventure tourism and one was a former Olympian. In Like Father, Like Son, my corporate real estate broker went to the gym.
Regularly, Abby!
My rock star hero in What The Librarian Did had a weight room in his house. I even forced my ‘nerd’ hero - a software designer – in Kiss Me, Santa to go jogging to justify a muscular frame. And my current series is based around Special Forces heroes.
I love physical men.
I have a terrible suspicion that Abby wouldn’t mind if her hero didn’t have wilderness survival skills, but I’m too scared to ask in case she confirms it.
She would probably argue that her heroes would outsmart the bear or the serial killer. Ha! Assuming my hero hasn’t overpowered them first…the bear and serial killer, that is.
Like us, our heroes would be friends.
The supreme irony in all this is that among her many books, Abby Gaines has a beefcake cover I admire even more than Jaci Burton’s. (Top right).

Now that’s almost enough to break up our friendship.

What are you cover preferences? Covered or uncovered? Maybe you even prefer a hero in profile or with his head cropped so you can supply your own imaginary hero.
Make a comment and go into the draw for a dumbbell…just kidding. A paua necklace from New Zealand.

Here Comes The Groom, featuring my first Special Forces hero, Dan Jansen is out now. In my August release, Stand-In Wife, Dan’s former troopmate, Ross Coltrane spends ALL his time working out, trying to get back to combat fitness. But Dan’s sister, Viv, has far more important tasks for him. I think Abby will like her.


Kaelee said...

Hi Karina,

I like Abby's Cover but I don't like Jaci's cover.
The baby helps soften the picture so does the hero's smile. I like reading about sports heroes but six pack abs are not the be all and end all for me.

Karina Bliss said...

Kaelee, Abby's cover is perfect isn't it? Nothing like a rugged man showing tenderness by holding a baby. It's a real "awww" cover. One day I'm gonna get me one of those. Course I'll have to write a book that suits that cover first.

Rogenna Brewer said...

Okay, Karina, the covers were worth the wait. I must say I have a little cover envy there, Abby

I like a lot of muscle on my men, too. As I'm typing this my husband is going for a "run." He's no longer the 4% BMI guy I married for his brains and buns--a high school jock with enough smarts to become a Navy Nuke--but he's still hot!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I love covers of guys. Shirtless or shirted, babies or not. But give me a guy in a cowboy hat and I immediately fall in love.

Don't give me a headless guy. That just creeps me out.

And can the guy please match the story line? Sometimes that doesn't happen and it drives me crazy.

I have to wait until August????? Well, Stand In Wife has just been penned in on my "looking forward to" list.

Snookie said...

I like abby's cover better. I don't like muscled out jocks and never did. Lean and muscled from working hard works for me!

I'm also on teh bandwagon of having the cover pictures match the storyline. Hate seeing a blonde on the cover when the hero has dark hair! Or a brunette when the heroine has red hair, or or or.... you get the picture :)

Snookie said...

P.S. Forgot to tell you I really liked Here Comst the Groom :)

Chelle Sandell said...

I think Jaci's cover is hawt...but give me a real man any day!! I think that's another reason I love Supers so much, the hero is more down to earth and everyday sexy to me.

Karina Bliss said...

Rogenna, really 4 percent! Guess I associate muscle with competence in fictional heroes. I blame Susan Elizabeth's Stars football heroes :)

Julie, so cowboy hats do it for you, huh? I guess they've come to represent a kind of honest integrity...and again competance. There's that word again. I'm (ahem) a painstaking (AKA slow) writer....sorry! I hope it'll be worth the wait.

Snookie, I'm with you on the hair colour match-up, but unless the cover's really, really good I don't think of them as the characters I'm reading - and I'm talking as a reader, not a writer. How I imagine them will always take precedence.
I'm delighted you enjoyed Here Comes The Groom

Chelle, Jaci's cover is definitely 'hawt'. I like tha term. I think of Super heroes as alphas who have grown up, if that makes sense. Able to laugh at themselves when required.


gloria said...

Too much muscle turns me off, to the book and the guy!! Like to see a big smile rather than abs. Looking forward to your book.

Rogenna Brewer said...

Yes, Karina, it's true...I have 10x the percentage of body fat my husband once had :?

Karina Bliss said...

Gloria...I suspect I'm shallow, which is a bit shock to me. I'll take the abs and the smile. Of course this is all silly fun and heaven forbid we hold our men (or more importantly, they hold us) to the same standards.

Ro...we sell that as 'a whole lotta woman.' G>

Anonymous said...

I like both covers. I also enjoy Blaze books too, so I love a sexy cover. I looked at all of Super Romance covers for this year and A Little Texas by Liz Talley was my favorite. Maddie Inherits a Cowboy by jeannie Watt was a close second. Although I rarely buy a book based on the cover. The author and plot are far more important. What the Librarian Did is a book I did buy because I really liked the cover. But, I liked the author too!

Kristina Mathews said...

For me it is the back cover that makes me take home a book. I do like athletes, even if they are rec league. A little muscle goes a long way, but they have to have equal heart and brains to go with it.

Of the two covers above, I would immediately turn to the back of the first one, if it is an intriguing storyline, I might buy it.

But the second book, the one with the great big man holding the tiny baby. That's a no brainer. I'm sold. There is just something so sexy about a strong man who is gentle with kids.

mary sullivan said...

Hi Karina, I love a strong man with muscles and I like the way your heroes have gained theirs. The really buff guys like the one on Jaci Burton's cover, though? They probably spend enormous amounts of time in the gym or on the track every single day. If I dated one of them, when would he ever have time for me, me, me? LOL

Oh! I just noticed Kristina's line about a strong man who is gentle with kids. I LOVE that. Knee-melting!

Jeannie Watt said...

I like Abby's cover. Jaci's--yes, he is a gorgeous man, but the small of his back bothers me. Could it be that I don't like guys with bubble butts? I do like a good guy butt, but this one...maybe I just need a different angle. In fact I'd love a different angle. Or two. All in the name of research, of course.

Karina Bliss said...

Tammy, I loved the cover of A Little Texas too...and Maddie Inherits a Cowboy...oh the covers I'm jealous of! Having said that you're right. What the Librarian Did was an inspired cover and won me a lot of positive publicity, God bless Harlequin's cover department.

Kristina...I guess I should have said. Both are great reads! By the back cover, do you mean the blurb? I look at the cover, read the back cover blurb, then the first couple of pages. IF the writing grabs me it's a sale.

Mary, yes...even my imagination won't buy that he didn't do anything to earn that body. Good point about the gym giving him less time for me, me, me. But imagine all that intense pro sportsman focus turned on you, you, you.

Jeannie, bubble butt...Noooooo, don't put that idea into my head....! Yes, lets compare angles, that will work in terms of reaching an impartial decision.

EllenToo said...

First let me say that I don't pay a lot of attention to covers and they certainly don't influence whether I buy/read a book. Having said that I don't like overly muscled men but put a tender little on in his arms and I might like him a little better. I like Abby's cover better.

Babs said...

I like it when the hero on the cover actually 'fits' the one in book. In the case of Burton's cover (totally drool worthy!) it does fit as he's a professional football player (American style) and spends an inordinate amount of time keeping fit. The Gaines cover is also lovely but different in tone.

One thing I hate is the headless hero on covers, that just irks me.

Karina Bliss said...

Ellen, interesting how these covers reflect the books different tones...sports hero, high sensuality. And the family slant of this Super - it's a baby in a basket story and the philanthropist hero is not at all happy about walking the talk.

Babs, ahh, American football players, the stuff of legends.

Mary Preston said...

I love uncovered but not too 'beefy'. I want to actually see some semblance of intelligence when I finally move on to the next phase of my cover examination.

Karina Bliss said...

Marybelle, semblance of intelligence very important...actually more than a semblance!

Virginia C said...

"The Body" on Jaci's book is Jed Hill, a full-time fitness model and certified Personal Trainer/Wellness Coach who is also a former Penn state football player. He has "a look" which is very well-suited to the story line of the book.

I am a cover lover. For me a story is most enjoyable when the cover and back blurb match the characters and the story line detail of the book. It is very disconcerting to be drawn to a book by its exterior and then find that the content doesn't match. That is a nightmare for authors and not enjoyable for the reader. However, that can be overcome by the skill of the writer in bringing the characters to life. I have read a few books where the appearance of the characters was never really mentioned, and visualizing them was based mostly on their words and actions. Sometimes this will work, but again, it depends on the skill of the author. I prefer to have a clear idea of the image of each character as I read along. Then the added personality elements as the story unfolds enhance the physical image of the character and allow me to really follow them as they move through the story line.

I enjoy images of handsome men with strong, muscular physiques. Let's face it beautiful men are...bodacious : ) Headless shots of terrific torsos can be drool-worthy, but they lack personality. I like a face to go with the physique. A face with some hint of the person inside. Abby's cover is just about perfect--you can't go wrong with a handsome hunk and a cute baby!

Jeannie Watt said...

I just wanted to pop back in and tell Tammy that I'm tickled she liked the cover to Maddie Inherits a Cowboy. I think the art department did a wonderful job. Liz's cover is eye popping and I also looooove Karina's January cover. Zipping the dress is such a cool image.

Helen Brenna said...

I love both covers for different reasons, but then I love muscled men! When I visualize my heroes, they're always muscled, either from an active lifestyle or from working out.

I wanna a bare chested hero on one of my covers. Wah!

Mary Brady said...

Karina, thanks for such a great break from revisions! Helen is right. They are both great covers. If I had to pick one, well, if you could send the two guys in person...

Karina Bliss said...

Virginia C, thanks for the id of Jaci's cover model...obviously a multi-talented individual who reinforces my argument that brawn and brains can continue to exist quite happily between the covers of my books. You bring to mind another point...regardless of where we fall on the cover spectrum romance readers seem to prefer character based covers.

Helen, stand in line for a bare-chested hero (behind me).

Mary, love your logical approach to picking the best cover. Why didn't I think of that?


Abby Gaines said...

Karina, I guess I see how my hero gets fit as being much the same as how his house gets cleaned - it happens, and I assume it's done to a high standard, but I don't want to know about it!

But a romance novel hero going to the gym etc hints at an obsession with his physical appearance that worries me. (I know this is totally unreasonable because in real life, heroic guys do go to gym - and when I wrote my NASCAR romances, those guys worked out a lot as part of their job...).

I like my heroes to be smart first of all, and then fit...but the kind of fitness that comes from hard work, not from a machine...

Jeannie, thanks for expanding my vocab - "bubble butt"?!

Autumn Macarthur said...

Oh my, thanks for the treat, Karina!

I have to say, though Jaci's cover man is gorgeous, it's definitely Abby's cover for me.

Something about a well-muscled, shirtless man, AND a baby. Every woman;'s dream. Does he do housework too?

I don't like heroes to work out too much, unless they have good reason to be gym-honed as part of their job (Olympic athletes, firemen, and cops permitted!). If he got that buff body chopping wood for the fire, so much the better. Like Abby, the gym culture shouts narcissism to me, not an attractive trait in a potential mate.

Karina Bliss said...

Abby, love the housework analogy. So fitness is kind of like maintenance to you, something best done privately like cutting toenails. I guess I'm like a kind of fitness police, I don't beleive it unless it's written on page. (Who doesn't say, oh yes, I exercise regularly).
Noooo....don't raise the bubble butt image again.

Autumn, Abby's cover is superb isn't it? Macho nurture at its best. It's a 2008 release. Check out Abby's for details. It's a great book. Very funny.

Jacquie Biggar said...

Karina,I would have to go with either one because I mean really, WHEW!! As a 47 year old with few fantasies left to me, they work!! lol
I definately love a cover with a hot guy, it draws me to the book. That's what a great love story's for anyway,so I can lose myself in the illusion

Karina Bliss said...

Jacquie...yes, it's a tough choice. They're both great covers.

C said...

I choose BOTH covers! I like the fantasy. I think the real-life time it would take to get that ripped would be time I'd rather spend with my significant other.

Also, I wanted to say that while I liked both the above covers, I also really liked the cover for What the Librarian Did. So it's definitely not just bare chests that make for a good cover. And I'm also in the camp that really appreciates it when the cover matches the story told in the book!

linda s said...

I've never seen a real man with a body like that on the first cover. Not at all what I imagine when I think buff... The second looks much more cuddlely.

Karina Bliss said...

Carin, What the Librarian Did was a wonderful cover. Very evocative of the different worlds of the hero and heroine. Probably my favourite of all my covers, after Mr Irresistible.

Linda s, no, but apparently they exist!


AJ Blythe said...

I am so superficial, lol. Me, I tend to go for nice set of biceps so I think Abby's cover has it for me. It has nothing to do with the baby (actually, if anything, the baby turns me off because the heroes right hand has caught up the edge of the nappy - any *real* I-like-babies kinda guy would know that can lead to overflow all over your hand...).

Karina Bliss said...

That baby ineptitude is accurate in this case, Anita! The hero starts out inept with babies, and though he's a do-gooder he prefers to be nice remotely.

JV said...

Karina, I loved this: "...I suspect I'm shallow, which is a bit shock to me. I'll take the abs and the smile." Okay, well, don't feel bad. Me, too! I will temper that, though, by saying that I don't just want brawn. I want brains, too, and I don't really want bodybuilder types of muscles. I really hate the bulging trapezius muscles (I call them blow fins) or the neck so thick that it's as wide as the head or the veins that look like they're ready to burst with every arm movement. However, I do love a well-defined muscle on a man. I loved both covers, and covers make a big difference in which book I will pick up (or click on) to read the blurb or an excerpt. Covers like the two you've shown would definitely have me picking the book up to investigate further.

I always want to see a depiction of the hero on the cover, but as so many others have said, I want it to be reasonably accurate. I read a book once where the hero's mustache was described, but there was no mustache on the guy on the cover. (And how hard can it be, if you can draw a realistic-looking person, to add a mustache, even if the cover model doesn't have one?) Also, the heroine was described as having long, curly red hair. The cover model did have red hair, but it was very short and straight as a stick. If the title of this book hadn't been so very unusual, I would never remember by looking at the book what the story inside was about, and I think that's sad.

Karina Bliss said...

JV, I share your frustration with inaccuracies of major things like missing moustaches or the wrong colour hair. Fortunately photoshop seems to be a fix these days if there's a slip-up somewhere in production and the editor or author spots it in time. Did you pencil a moustache on the hero? I'd be tempted!
Yes, my shallowness came as a big shock to me.

Sandra Hyatt said...

Interesting, the different takes on covers. I think I prefer Abby's - muscular but in a more natural way, although if the other guy was a professional sportsman I guess I can see why he'd have to be in peak condition. For all the times that I've seen both those covers I'd never noticed the 'bubble' butt or the potential for diaper malfunction. Obviously I need to pay more attention.

Jamie Michele said...

Jaci's cover is extraordinary. He's thoroughly muscled, but it doesn't look to me like he would use steroids. I think that his body looks highly functional, meaning that he actually needs all that muscle to do his job. And his butt is just perfect! Guys who are fast have butts like that. Does anyone know what position Jaci's hero plays in the book?

But I've always loved sporty guys -- I married one, so I'd better. And I don't mind a guy who puts time into maintaining his health and strength, though as with anything he does, I wouldn't want him to obsess over it.

Maybe it's because I haven't managed to have children yet, but I'm not drawn to covers with babies or children on them. I'm actually fascinated by my lack of primal response to them. I certainly enjoy a story about a father and child, but the image itself doesn't pull me in.

To each her own!

Karina Bliss said...

Sandra... which begs the question. What are you paying attention to? :)

Jamie, higher in the comments is the cover model...I've lent Jaci's book to a friend so can't tell you what position the hero plays in the book. Someone else might be able to?
Yes, the obsession has to be the heroine, not himself.


Colleen C. said...

I don't mind seeing a sexy man half dressed on the cover, but I do love the covers that give me a peek into the story...

penney said...

I love the back covers on books reading them to see what the book is about and I love front covers too.This sounds really good.

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