The new old government, and the new old book covers

Thank heavens it’s over! New Zealand has just had a General Election – delayed an extra month because of Covid-19. Things seemed to drag on forever.

Predictably Prime Minister Jacinda Adern was re-elected, but no-one expected the extent of the voting swing in the direction of her Labour party. Old National faces have vanished. New faces will be appearing. Politicians who had ‘a job for life’ haven’t got one any longer. Some who possibly took part in the experience to ‘get ready for next time’ have been voted in and find themselves with much larger jobs than they expected. Real fun!

                      Jacinda Ardern campaigning

I sat here ignoring most of it, happily stealing time to search the stock photo sites so I could put new covers on my South & Sexy books.

What stops you in your tracks when it comes to book covers? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. Scrolling through the sites like Bookbub and Freebooksy I’m finding my eyes drawn to all sorts of unlikely things. Old bicycles parked in English country lanes (is it a cozy mystery or women’s fiction?)  Jetties and sunsets with no-one in sight (nostalgia with older characters, or a teen beach holiday story?) Bunches of daisies (wildflowers from a vacation, or a wedding bouquet?) Pieces of jewellery (billionaires or family history?) Good designers pair appropriate fonts with the pictures as an extra clue to what’s inside. And a good title can tell you a lot.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but surely you need to be able to? Readers spend only the briefest time flicking past them and deciding whether they’ll stop and read the blurb. Something titled ‘One More Year’ hand-letteried on a wall of white tile is probably not going to intrigue me. One more year for what? Who cares?

But ah – a long dress and a glimpse of a castle – easy shorthand. A cowboy hat tells you exactly what to expect. If there’s a green-chested alien then it doesn’t matter what the title is. A wolf or a bear?  Two hot men? A cutesy illustration with shoes and cupcakes? We’ve gotten used to certain signals.

A couple looking affectionate tells you it’ll be romance. Finding the right people is the problem! I’ve put every term I can think of in the search-boxes. Sometimes you don’t get what you expect. I’ve become very familiar with the same old parade of muscular chests, pretty bottoms in lacy thongs, people with the wrong colour hair or the wrong ethnicity, locations that look nothing like where my stories are set, Christmas decorations when I don’t want them, lots of fake bondage, out-of-fashion clothes, beards that birds could build nests in, and such stiff and unlikely poses I’ve been snorting with amusement.

Stock photo sheet

But we’ve done it. I particularly like the shot for THE WRONG SISTER. It’s so pretty I can forgive my new lady for wearing either a petticoat or a nightgown on the riverbank. (Yes, why???)  HOT FOR YOU fairly sizzles – and they’re both fully dressed. OUT OF BOUNDS has a lovely air of untouchability. Have a look at them and see what you think.

Next time you’re checking out books, spare a thought for the work that goes into some of the covers. Mine are no competition for those by professional designers, but they’re still made with heaps of love and attention to detail.