Michille: The Clinch Cover

Several of my fellow 8LW are self-publishing their books. They occasionally bounce cover ideas off the rest of the 8LW. I’ve never given the composition a lot of thought other than I like this or I like that, but as I’ve been seeing the process through their eyes, it’s made me pay more attention. I’ve noticed cartoon (probably not the right word) covers making a comeback, lots of bare chests and tats for the more erotic stories, and full-faces of characters rather than half-images which I used to see more. I’ve always paid attention to whether the cover lived up to what was inside or if it leads me astray.

For example, Nancy’s cover (above left) shows a blond woman in period dress with the title and author’s name clearly written on the cover. After I saw the progression of her cover from meh to this beautiful thing, I started paying attention. I was amazed at how many were similar to this final product, but with minor differences that made it, well, kind of awful. Like the font was too modern or was obscured by a busy background so you couldn’t read either the title and/or the author, or an arm looked twisted the wrong way, etc. On another note about Nancy’s, the heroine is fully clothed, including gloves, with nothing sliding off or drooping anywhere so I assumed that the bedroom door either closed before anything happened or they never got to said door. The book she’s holding makes me think either intellectual content or secrets. The cover lived up to my expectation.

Clearly, Jeanne’s cover (above center) is for a very different kind of story. It doesn’t set a time period, but it makes me think there is evil, innocence, and betrayal or temptation (depending how you think of the Adam/Eve thing) lurking in her story. The snake looks very threatening and the apple is both the innocence and the betrayal/temptation. Once again, the cover and the story jibed. And I can clearly read the font.

And of course, in the romance genre, there is the clinch cover (above right). I started reading romance in the 80s, so this is the kind of cover I saw all the time. And Gentle Rogue was probably one of my first (side note: I work with a woman who loves romance novels and wears green eye shadow just like Georgina Anderson [yes, it’s very weird to see in real life]). I shamelessly love the clinch cover. BookRiot has a post about The Origin of the Romance Novel Clinch Covers which lists some of the artists with examples of the classics (she loves them). Jezebel has a post with some of the newer versions of the classic clinch (she doesn’t like them). I can’t find the article now, but I recently read that they were created at a time when men ran the book marketing world and the covers were used to get them to buy the books to put on shelves (and not targeted at the women at the buying end). Regardless of who is doing the marketing or buying, I definitely prefer the old covers to the new makeovers like the ones written about in this Smart Bitches – Trashy Books post. And in the end, you know what you’re getting when you buy a book with a clinch cover. A romance with the bedroom door open.

How about you? Are you a lover or hater of the Clinch Cover?

7 thoughts on “Michille: The Clinch Cover

    • I don’t think they would be appropriate to your stories, anyway. And not to Nancy’s either. When I was reading about this topic on the internet, a lot of people agree with you – as in, dislike that kind of cover.

  1. Oh, I’m a LOVER of the clinch cover! In fact, I ended up switching designers because I wanted my covers to have more of a painted feel, like the Fabio covers of old (when they were ACTUALLY PAINTED). Bold colors, glorious font work, and a suggestive couple…that’s totally my sort of book-eye-candy.

    The one downside to these sorts of covers, though, is FB has been ridiculously prudish lately regarding ads. I know several friends whose ads have been rejected because they were too smutty — merely for showing a man-nipple or too many packs of a guy’s six-pack. Some writers aren’t even bothering with FB ads anymore, because their covers are summarily rejected.

  2. For me the main thing about the clinch cover is that you know what you’re getting, more or less, on the page. It sets expectations. Different styles reflect different stories, so if I’m ready for romance, then I head for a clinch on the cover.

  3. I guess I get nervous and skim through most sexy scenes (unless I’m actively reading porn). So, these covers make me cringe, and wish they had a plain brown dust jacket when I’m reading out in public. But there’s no denying they represent the insides of the book.

    Strangely enough, classic porn doesn’t seem to have clinchy covers at all. The illustrations (if any) are inside the book, LOL. The stuff I’ve bought (like Fanny Hill) had sexy, blowsy covers that either reproduced or actually were 18th/19th century paintings.

    I grew up with the clinch covers in my house, though, so I’d hate to see them go away. What a woman stocks her bookshelves with is entirely her business! But in this day and age, it’d be nice if we could have a choose-a-cover option. (We actually do, if you think about it. Anyone who wants to put the work in can design and print a dust jacket for their books, and some people do.)

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