Guest - Suzanne Rock: What Kind of Covers Do You Love?

Thank you so much for having me here! Today I'd like to talk about something that everyone has an opinion on – book covers. Over at Embrace the Shadows, I co-run a book cover competition called the “Cover Clash.” Every week, three book covers go head-head in a battle of the best. Readers, writers, authors, and cover artists vote for their favorite cover. On the following Monday, a winner is announced and that author wins our very own prize – a button called the “Thorn.”

I've been running this competition for a little over a year now, and I as a result I've seen a lot of book covers. Some I've liked better than others. What I find really interesting is what others seem to like to see in book covers. Sometimes I agree with the readers and other times... not so much. It's all part of the fun.

I thought I would share with everyone some trends I've noticed while running this competition. While there are always exceptions to the rules, I find that if I follow this formula, I can predict the winners with surprising accuracy.

1) People tend to shy away from covers depicting a woman standing alone, unless the cover has a lot of background colors, or the woman has an interesting tattoo.
2) People prefer naked male torsos over seeing the guy's face. This rule is thrown out if the torso looks too “photo-shopped.”
3) As a general rule of thumb, people like to see a couple sharing an intimate moment over something blatantly erotic. In other words, romance over sex.

So what about everyone here? Do you you agree with my assessment of book covers, or not? What is it about a book cover that makes you pick up a book? If you're an author, is there something specific you always ask for in your covers?

I'm curious - Tell me about it!

And in the meantime, here is a sneak peak of my upcoming release from Loose Id, called Down on the Boardwalk. This werewolf-menage story is the second book in the Kyron Pack series.

One lucky commenter to this blog post will receive the first book in the series, “Up on the Housetop.” If you feel shy about leaving a comment, shoot me an email with the subject line “Fierce Romance Blog Contest” to enter. I'll post the winner in the comments section on my book's release day, August 17th. Good luck!

Down on the Boardwalk – Suzanne Rock

Book Trailer:

Blurb: Gwen's psychic abilities first make her an outsider among the werewolves. Then they make her a slave. Forced to use her power to help a deranged werewolf seek vengeance, she gives up on her dream of ever being accepted and loved. That is, until Nico and Tony are thrown into her cell. Her attraction to the Kyron Pack brothers is immediate and overwhelming. As she submits to the physical attraction, old wounds heal and her powers strengthen. The brothers think she can save them, but to do so would require more than just physical intimacy, and reveal a secret too dark and horrifying to share.

When Nico and Tony use their lust to help their battered mate, buried memories rise to the surface, and jealousy threatens to destroy the fragile wolf in their care. As each of them bonds to Gwen, they begin to withdraw from each other. Now they must heal their inner scars and forgive the past if they ever hope save Gwen and escape the Boardwalk alive.

Excerpt from Down on the Boardwalk

“The blond woman betrays you.”
The tall thin man crouched until he was eye level with the woman on the floor and narrowed his eyes. “How?”
Gwen Anderson refused to answer. How could she? The future was always uncertain. Even if the vision was clear, something small could happen in the present and forever alter it.
Eric grasped her chin and dragged her face within inches of his. “Tell me!”
She pulled away from his bony fingers and closed her eyes. Tired, so tired. How long has she been kept in this makeshift cell underneath the casino? Hours had turned into days, then weeks. For all she knew, she could’ve been down here for years.
The sting from Eric's slap exploded across her cheek. “What did you see? I have to know. Does my sister betray us?”
Us. There was no us. Not now, not ever. At one time Gwen thought that maybe she could be part of an ‘us,’ but not anymore. Now, there was nothing except loneliness and pain, interrupted occasionally by Eric's frantic questioning.
“I know you saw something important. Amos said you were mumbling in your sleep.”
Gwen looked up into her captor's face. Eric Wright, leader of the Wright Pack and in charge of all the werewolves that lived in the Northeast. Eric Wright, the one she turned to when she had nowhere to live and was out of options. At first he dismissed her, but once he learned about her 'gift' for seeing into the future he kept her caged down here like some animal.
At least he didn't lie to her. The abuse she could take. It was the false kindness of the Kyron Pack, the pack who abandoned her, that hurt the most. She still remembered the look of pity in the leader's eyes as he shut the door in her face --
“Useless twit.” Eric straightened and brushed his long blond hair over his shoulder. His eyes looked bloodshot, as if he hadn't been sleeping.
“Let me try, boss. I can get the information out of her.”
Gwen's gaze flew to the brutish looking man in the doorway. He smiled at her, a slow evil smile that turned her blood to ice.
“Ah, a weak spot.” Eric smiled, showing most of his perfectly white teeth. “Come here, Amos.”
Gwen scrambled closer to the wall. The last time Amos was given free reign it she didn't have enough strength to use her magic to heal. It took her days to recover. Eric would never allow him to... not when he still needed information from her... would he?
Amos slapped the handle of a long, thin whip against his hand as he approached them, his gaze never leaving Gwen’s half-naked body.
“No.” The word came out as a whisper, an exhale of breath. God, she just wanted to die. Death would be preferable to the hell she had been through -- that she was going through.
“No?” Eric shook her until her brain rattled in her head. “Then tell me how my sister Lydia betrays me.” His beady blue gaze pierced her skin as he spoke. He was getting angry. When Eric was angry, he got physical, and she couldn’t deal with that right now. Not when she was malnourished and chained like a dog to the wall.
Gwen moistened her lips and forced herself to speak. “The vision was fuzzy. She hasn't made up her mind yet. I only saw a possibility--”
“Tell me.”
Gwen turned her gaze to Amos and a shiver raced down her spine. She didn’t want to give the bastards any more information, but she didn’t want to get beaten again, either. “The Kyron pack leader persuades her to betray you.” She had seen more, but held her tongue. Eric didn't need to know the other part. It didn't have to do with his sister anyway. Her other vision had to do with her future, or at least what was left of it.
Eric slapped the other side of her face, causing her to whimper. “Liar.” He began to pace. “Josh Kyron is proving to be a thorn in my side. First he harms what’s mine, then he denies it.” He stopped in front of her and rubbed his chin. “The selfish whelp thinks he’s above were-law. My own people grow weak, while his pack grows fat and lazy. Now he wants to take my sister out from under my nose. If Lydia turns her back on me for that arrogant wolf--”
Just then the door to the basement slammed open. Cool air rushed in from the hall, creating goose bumps over her pale skin. Eric and Amos whirled around. Gwen pried her eyes open and stared at the door.
Two large men marched into the room, carrying a third man between them. “We caught him snooping around.”
Eric turned away from Gwen to face the guards. She silently thanked the gods for the reprieve and pulled her knees up to her chest. Wrapping her arms around her legs, she huddled against the wall and tried to blend in with the background.
Eric approached the prisoner. “Who are you?”
Silence. The man was large, over six feet, with thick hair the color of night. Muscles rippled as he growled like an animal and tugged against his captors. She tried to get a look at his face, but he kept his head low to the ground.
“Look at me.” Eric grabbed a fistful of ebony hair and pulled the prisoner’s head up for all to see.
The prisoner spat on his shoes.
Gwen flinched as Eric tugged harder. It must have been so painful, but the prisoner didn’t cry out. Instead he hissed out his breath and flashed his sharp teeth.
“Werewolf.” Eric let go in disgust. “But not of my pack. Where did you find him?”
The guards glanced at each other. “Up in the casino.”
“What was he doing?”
“He was dressed as staff and flirting with one of the cocktail waitresses. He asked her where the casino records were held.”
Dressed as staff. Gwen squinted at the tears in the maroon pants and white polo shirt the man wore. The thin cotton clothes clung to every muscle of his body like a static-filled sock, outlining his broad, muscular shoulders and narrow hips. The air around him was charged with energy. Awareness tingled over her skin. Gwen slid her lower lip between her teeth as a sliver of heat raced up her center. This was the man from her vision, she was sure of it. There was no denying the savage power that radiated off his body, or the sexy ripple of his back.
Stop it. What was she thinking? He wasn't this handsome in her vision. She shouldn't be thinking of him this way. It would have been so much better if he never was caught, if they never met...
The prisoner raised his head and snarled at Eric. “She would have told me too, if you didn't interrupt.” His deep baritone vibrated through Gwen like a caress.
“Whose pack do you belong to?” Amos asked.
The captive pressed his lips together and stared at Eric.
“Kyron,” Eric announced. “He carries the same arrogance as his leader. I should have known Josh would try to retaliate.”
“You're the one who's arrogant. You let the members of your pack live like savages while you obsess over something that never happened.”
“Shut up, whelp.” Eric grabbed his hair and yanked his head up to meet his gaze. “You have no idea what you're talking about.”
“Josh never did anything to your mate.”
“I said shut up!” A loud crack echoed through the room as Eric slapped him across the mouth.”You weren't there. You have no idea what you're talking about.”
The prisoner's chest heaved as he caught his breath. Gwen could feel her heart slam in her chest. Eric was so volatile, there was no telling what he was capable of. One false move, and she could be beaten within an inch of her life.
The prisoner looked up and noticed her for the first time. His expression changed, first softening, then becoming more intense. Power and confidence fell off him in waves. There was something more however, something about those eyes. She couldn’t define it, but it called to her, heated her. The air electrified as his deep amber gaze pierced through her skin and heated every inch of her body. Something passed over his features, something dark and needy. Possessive. Desire swept up over her skin and set every nerve ending on fire. Gwen shrunk back, surprised at the new sensations running through her. She didn't see this in her vision, but then again, her powers were fickle, showing her pieces of a puzzle.
He held her gaze, immobilizing her with their dark depths. His face was thin and angular, hard jaw, but there was a spark in his eyes, something savage. Gwen moistened her lips as anticipation dripped slowly through her middle, hardening her nipples and pooling between her thighs. She shifted her legs and caught a scent of her arousal. If she could smell it, then the rest of the wolves in the room could smell it, too. Yet she didn't care. All she cared about was kissing each of his wounds, licking his bruises while she rubbed her hips against his...
The prisoner pulled against the guards, trying to reach her. Shouting erupted and one of the guards slammed something against his back. The noise broke the spell and Gwen blinked as she huddled closer to the wall. never before had she felt anything so strong. The man awakened emotions in her she long thought dead. And so intense! There was only one way she knew of that a wolf could become so aroused, so emotional. Oh God, it couldn’t be possible…

Author Bio:

After over a decade in the scientific world, Suzanne needed a creative outlet. She tried scrap booking, cooking, crocheting, painting, and piano, none of which held her interest for very long. Then one of her friends suggested writing. Thrilled with the idea of creating her own worlds, she opened up her lap top and never looked back.

When Suzanne’s not writing, she can be found playing with her two daughters, testing her husband’s latest kitchen creations, or curled up with her favorite romance novel in her central Massachusetts home.

Backlist in the following format: (Title, publisher)

Spyder's Web, Loose Id
Up on the Housetop (Book 1 of the Kyron Pack), Loose Id
Cria, Loose Id

Coming soon list in the following format: (Title, publisher)

Down on the Boardwalk (Book 2 of the Kyron Pack), Loose Id
Dark Deception (Book 1 of the Immortal Realm), Red Sage



Embrace the Shadows Blog:

Youtube Channel (so you can see my other book trailers):

20 Responses
  1. Carly Carson Says:

    Hi Suzanne and welcome,

    Great excerpt. Those are interesting thoughts about covers, esp. about the naked torsos being so popular. Too bad I don't have one on my current cover. lol

  2. Rebecca Lynn Says:

    After watching cover contests, I would agree with your ideas on what readers like.

    I would tend to fall into those categories myself, except that my absolute favorite cover of all time has just one woman on the cover, and she doesn't even have a tattoo! It's Fiona Vance's "The Highwayman." Good book, *GREAT* cover! :-)

  3. Sherry Says:

    I vote just about every week on the Cover Clash. Most of the time the cover I pick loses. I agree with you about what readers like. I know that's what I like. Love the excerpt it was great.

  4. morgan wyatt Says:

    I have bought books on the cover alone. I like mysterious covers that may have some symbolism in it that I have to read the book to understand.

  5. Vonnie Davis Says:

    I never buy a book based on the cover (I think there's a cliche buried in that remark)and often shy away from erotic bookcovers. Perhaps because I'm of another era. I judge and purchase based on the blurb on the back and from leaving through the text. If there are a lot of "said" tags, I pass since they are so very annoying. My generation (60-70 year olds)maligns "bodice rippers" so badly that those types of covers are a turn-off, too. Now, having said all that, I will say that I feel especially cheated when the description of the hero or heroine does not match the photo on the cover. Don't show me a cover with a blonde and have the character dark-haired. It's an insult to the intelligence and hard work of the author. Didn't the cover designer care enough to search for the 'right' model? Regarding the excerpt, I've never read a vampire or were-wolf story so I found this expecially enlightening and well-done.

  6. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Carly! Thanks for the compliment. What I've noticed is that everyone has different things that they like when it comes to book covers. Also, what makes one person love a cover, turns someone else off. You can't please everyone. I really like your book cover, btw. I think it's great! Thanks for posting.

  7. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Rebecca. I've read Fiona Vance's stories, too. I think she's great. Then again, I *love* erotic historicals. :) She has some great covers, too. Thanks so much for posting!

  8. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Sherry! LOL about picking the book cover that loses in the Clash. I am one of the people who scour the internet each week looking for fabulous covers and I have to confess...every week I pick a cover that I think will blow the competition away and more often than not, it loses. I guess that there is no magic formula, eh? ;) Thanks for the comment. :D

  9. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Morgan - wow. You've bought a book based on the cover alone? Talk about living on the edge! lol. I did that once and the book didn't live up to the cover. It's always interesting to learn what makes people decide to purchase one book over another. I know a few people who would never buy a book with a bad cover, so I guess you are in good company. :) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Thanks so much for your kind words Vonnie! I have to agree, I always read the blurb and first few pages of a story before I buy. Normally that is enough to let me know if I will like a book or not.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. Shannon Says:

    I confess a good cover entices me to look and I am so guilty of purchasing books for the cover alone although I do glance at the back of the book just to see what I'm getting myself in to read. For lack of a better word I want to be seduced by a cover and nothing makes me more upset to have the hero and heroine's descriptions not match the picture and give me an erotic cover any day!

  12. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks so much for being our guest today, Suzanne!!

  13. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Shannon! I agree - the pictures on the cover need to match the descriptions in the book. I've been very lucky in that all of my covers have depicted the characters accurately. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Thanks so much Nicole - it's great being here!

  15. Kari Thomas Says:

    Hi Suzanne! I agree with your assessment about the Covers. Im guilty of looking at a Book Cover even over the Title or Blurb or Genre. I've been VERY fortunate to have fantastic Covers on all my books, closely depicting the story, AND sexy too! (grin) My latest Cover, for SPELL-KISSED, is a bit different from the norm and I've been asking opinions ever since it came out. I like hearing what people think about it. The story is rated 4 Flames, and Im wondering if people will see the Cover and wonder...

    Anyhoo! Great post!

    Happy Writing!
    Hugs, Kari Thomas,

  16. Lorrie Says:

    Many times covers don't depict the story subject. Naked male torso's or an intimate couple on the cover does nothing for me.
    There are so many out there, they are becoming the norm and frankly, cliche.
    The blurb on the back, the first few pages are what convince me to buy.
    As for covers, I think a scene from the subject matter does more to entice me to read the blurb and first page.
    A woman stepping into a carriage.
    A man robbing a stagecoach.
    A picture of fog rolling in on a harbor town.
    I think you get what I mean.
    Yes, a good cover is important, but the blurb and the story itself is more so.
    Only my opinion.

  17. *yadkny* Says:

    I agree with your book cover assessment. I try not to do that whole judge a book by its cover thing, but sometimes it is just too hard not to. I do prefer a male torso over a face being shown.

  18. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Hi Kari - thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Lorrie - a scene for the cover - how interesting. I never really considered it. Thanks for sharing!

    Hi yadkny! I agree about the torso vs face. I normally have an image in mind, and the face quite often conflicts with my image. torsos seem to be generic enough that they don't conflict as often. hanks so much for sharing!

  19. Suzanne Rock Says:

    Today is release day for Down on the Boardwalk! You know what that means...

    someone here will win a copy of Up on the Housetop!

    Let me see...I'll put all of the names in a hat....

    And the winner is...

    Rebecca Lynn (Aug05 9:34AM)!

    congrats! Email me at with the words "Fierce Romance Contest Winner" in the subject. Tell me what format you prefer to win your prize!

    thanks everyone for stopping by!

  20. Nicole North Says:

    Congratulations Rebecca!!

    Thanks for being our guest, Suzanne!!

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