Rambling, writing

The Curse of the Naked Man Chest

Recently, I was email chatting with someone who is far more successful an author than I currently am. We got to talking about my covers and the comment I received was: “While they’re far from bad I do think it’s an area you might need to make improvements in. Take a look at the covers of books that are bestsellers in your genre and see how they compare.”

I was a little taken aback – don’t get me wrong, I do my covers myself and I know there’s plenty of room for improvement. But why on earth – or any other planet for that matter – would I want the covers of my books to look like the other covers in my genre? My books are a reflection of me, and therefore, shouldn’t the covers also be a reflection of me?

Scratching my head, I reached out to a friend of mine who is also a professional cover designer (far better than me, with my rusty photoshop skills) and laid out my dilemma. Her answer was gentle, but no less succinct: the advice is correct. Having a cover you enjoy might satisfy the artist within you, but it will not necessarily sell books. You need to change your covers to reflect their genre.

Which means, in the case of my upcoming release… a naked man chest cover.

Don’t get me wrong, naked man chests are great and I quite like them, but they are EVERYWHERE. And what do they say about my story? My plot? My characters and world? The layers, the complexity, the beating heart of the book?

Short answer: Nothing.
Long answer: Absolutely nothing, but people click on a naked man chest because sculpted pecs and ripped abs sell.

Needless to say, my feelings on this started at indignant arm waving, progressed through frothy rage and ended in sobbing into my empty cocktail glass. But, in the end, I knew it was more sensible from a career point of view to bow down to the experience of people who know more than me – because what is this journey worth if I don’t take the time to learn and grow?

It was time to not only accept the Curse of the Naked Man Chest as my own, but embrace it.

I appreciate beyond words all the love and support I received from my cover friend as she helped me limp through the process of designing a naked man chest cover from start to sparkly-nippled finish. (Okay, his nipples don’t actually sparkle, but the image made me laugh.) She was wonderful with her advice, patient with her critiques and encouraging as I began to question everything I thought I knew.

Now, the naked man chest cover is complete, and I surprised myself with how much I like it. In fact, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all sometime in the next week or so, when I get all my baby dragons in a row. (Translation: I haven’t written the blurb yet, haha)

Until then, I’m off to eat ice cream and plot world domination via half-clothed men.

Happy Thursday, everyone!


1 thought on “The Curse of the Naked Man Chest”

  1. I suppose it’s a similar thing to how I will instantly look for tartan on the cover when I’m on the hunt for a Scottish romance. Invariably the tartan is accompanied by naked man chest. ;D I understand your trouble, since some of my heroes don’t have defined abs and aren’t particularly muscular. I admit to avoiding naked man chest wherever possible. And then of course I have romances without men at all, but working in my favour is the fact that F/F covers wouldn’t be allowed in stores if someone was half naked!!!


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