The historical romance cover -- a beautiful woman with her large breasts falling out of an half-opened gown, a handsome man holding her in his seductive embrace.
Almost everyone claims to hate these clinch covers, non-readers make fun of them, and readers hide them with plain book protectors or read ebooks in public to avoid showing them.
Why, then, has this type of cover persisted for so many years?
Here's the answer.
In the early Eighties when historical romances began to explode into the marketplace, publishers realized that guys ordered the books for their distribution companies and bookstores and guys usually put them on the shelves of bookstores and supermarkets.
How could the publisher make romances more attractive to these men so they'd distribute them and not hide them behind the racy covers of pulp mystery and science fiction? The big-breasted, half-naked babe was their answer, and it proved successful.
The female readers continued to buy these books, despite the cover, for what was inside -- a great read with well-developed characters which proved that love was the most powerful emotion in the world.
The grip of men on the distribution process finally eased, and a period of flowery covers and landscapes began, but readers had a harder time recognizing books as romances with such generic covers so the clinch cover returned in all its annoying glory.
These covers have become so dang iconic of the romance that they won't go away. We are as stuck with them as sf readers are with guys and skimpily clad babes with ray guns and spaceships.
So now you know.
Marilynn's Workshop Schedule and Information Links
Writing the First Chapter, January 3-31, 2011.
Drawing a reader into the first chapter of your novel is more than an exciting beginning, more than a “cute meet,” more than a sexy hero and a feisty heroine. Step by step, I'll show you the craft needed to draw the reader into your novel and make her eager to keep reading. I'll also show you how to set up the goals for the main characters and for the novel.
Writing in the Moment, April 11-May 8, 2011
How to get your voice, viewpoint, and craft so perfect that you disappear and your story comes alive. Lots of worksheets.
The Blurb: Mother of All Promotions July 25-August 7, 2011
A blurb is the pithy description of your novel in a query letter, the short "elevator pitch" used at a writer's conference, the log line for online promotion, and the all important back cover copy for a published novel. Without a great blurb, a novel won't be noticed by agents and editors.
Marilynn Byerly--creator of a blurb system used by university publishing courses, publishers, and many authors-- will show you how to create that perfect blurb for your novel. The course will include a number of worksheets and in-class blurb analysis.