About a week and a half ago, I posted a poll, to solicit your opinions about historical romance covers. It felt to me as if there was change in the wind, and your answers seem to support my suspicion.
About 500 people took the time to answer the questions, which is pretty awesome. Thank you, all!
I deliberately set this up so you’d have to choose a single best answer. I see from the comments that this bothered some respondents, but it makes it easier to draw % conclusions. Let’s have a look at those now.
The first question was:
Do you like to see people on historical romance covers?
The alternative, of course, is the “candy box” cover, which has tartan, flowers, ribbons, rings – pretty much anything except people. Only 6% of respondents preferred covers with no people on them.
Almost 94% prefer people on the covers. An equal percentage (44%) like covers with the couple together, and covers that echo the structure of the story with the illustration. I was surprised by how few liked the heroine alone, given all those beautiful Regency-era covers with the heroine in a flowing dress, and also by how few liked the hero alone, given the high percentage of man-chest out there in cover-land.
Question #2 was:
What poses do you like to see best on historical romance covers?
I was glad to see that such a high percentage (42% again, our magic number!) preferred the pose on the cover to echo the content of the book. The other percentages in order are 15%, 14%, 13%, 7%, 5%, and 4%. I was surprised by how few people voted for the “almost-kiss”, an extremely popular pose for historical romance covers. Looks like those of us designing covers or having them designed need to rethink that choice.
Question #3 was:
How much skin do you like to see on historical romance covers?
Again, a very interesting response – 60% of the readers responding to this survey expect the amount of exposed skin on the cover to be an indicator of the book’s contents. More skin for hotter reads. More modesty for sweeter reads.
That’s 24% preferring the people on the cover to be fully dressed.
Question #4 was a toughie, because only one answer could be selected.
The biggest influence on my decision to buy an historical romance is:
49% of those who replied to the survey say that the description is the main influence in their decision to buy or read a book. 16% shop by author, 13% buy authors they’ve read before, and the other results in order are 6%, 5%, 5%, 4%, 3%.
I’m astonished by this, and it’s a good example of why it’s wise to ask readers for their opinions. Most of us think that our own behavior is typical, and extrapolate from our own buying habits, assuming everyone shops as we do. I shop by cover. Always have and probably always will. I am completely seduced (and separated from my money) by beautiful covers, and seldom read cover copy before I buy a book. I read the copy before I start reading the book itself, and don’t always read it even then.
So, there we go! It seems that my sense that man-chest might be over as a trend, at least in historical romance, is confirmed by these results. If you’re interested in seeing a bit more, please hop back to the survey post and read the comments. There are some excellent and thoughtful points raised there, as well.