Cover up—Book Covers and our everyday lives.

Do we judge books by their covers? Is that good or bad?

My upcoming novel, Tactical Pursuit, is equal parts action and romance. When I thought about a cover to best represent the story, I knew immediately that I wanted to depict three things: Danger. Excitement. Sexy. My publisher agreed and I think the cover turned out fabulous. Check it out and tell me if you agree:

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But when I posted the cover, not everyone was thrilled. That’s okay, I respect everone’s opinion, and differences make for great discussions. A few folks lamented that I was pushing the sex and not the “quality” of the story. My response? The cover represents both. Remember, I wanted danger, excitement, and sexy. Is there some rule in lesbian fiction that says if I have a sexy cover I’m somehow demeaning my work? I guess that’s the rub for me. Are we still bowing to outside forces and ridiculous messages asserting that as lesbians we are only interested in sex? What the messages are really saying is that we have no right to outwardly acknowledge our sexuality. We should hide that side of us for fear of offending straight folks. Whatever.

Writing is entertainment, plain and simple. Those of you who have read my work know that I try to tackle some pretty deep subjects, but I do it in the context of the personal lives of my characters, including their romantic sides. I’m a pop fiction writer, after all. Do I have to sacrifice one side of the story for another? For me the answer is no. Will all of my stories contain sexual content? I don’t know. For now they do, because I’m committed to showing my characters as whole, complete, humans without apology. I’ve said before that this is why I choose to write in this genre. I write for the lesbian community, and I want to engage and entertain my audience.

My author buddy, Isabella, is known for pushing the envelope with her book covers, and we’ve talked about this issue many times. We want to engage readers with our stories, but first we have to get your attention, right? Isn’t that what a cover is for? I’d argue that Isabella has the sexy cover thing down, and it’s working for her, from what I can see. Talk about dangerous and sexy. Here’s her latest cover:

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So, here are a few questions for you, lesbian fiction fans: How important is a cover when you’re looking for a book? Will a cover like Tactical Pursuit or American Yakuza catch your attention to make you want to know what the book is about? Is this kind of edgier cover art something that will increase sales, and thereby introduce more readers to lesbian fiction overall? That’s the real goal, isn’t it? Selling books increases readership, which in turn raises the profile of our craft, and hopefully opens a few more minds. So, if my cover catches a reader’s attention and then they see Isabella’s book, and then that leads them deeper into the lesfic listings to discover other lesbian authors, excellent. I think whatever expands the horizon can only be a good thing for us all.

I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading.

~LM