Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday News: Tilt Shift Photography; Changes in Romance Covers; YA Self...


Let’s start the day out with something cool. I love tilt shift photography images.  Some photographers even use their iPhone cameras to create tilt shift images.  This is an image taken from the top of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

Lora Leigh Wild Card

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Jess
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 06:06:15

    I hate it when books that had awesome covers in their early printings change to fit a trend (and note that usually, while I like the covers, I haven’t already/won’t ever read the book itself). I know publishing companies want to sell as many books as they can and have people who observe the current best sellers, but changing covers is frustrating and comes with unfortunate implications sometimes. One series I began reading didn’t keep me hooked book-wise, but initially had the most beautiful/intricate covers I’d seen in its sub-genre and yes, those covers would’ve drawn me in. Midway (?) through series, the company changed the covers to feature a generic, indistinguishable-from-both-YA-and-adult- novel model. So what, the company is telling readers that “Oh yeah, we were proud of our original covers, but generic sells so deal with it”? Ugh! Then again, there is something to changing/publishing books with covers that look like the most popular books’ covers. When I’m looking for self-pubbed books on Amazon, the first things I check out are books with trendy covers. I also end up rejecting those books because the plots are trendy as well and I’m looking for something a bit more unique.

    As for the subject of teens not swearing in books, I have some mixed thoughts on that. I didn’t swear as a teen. I tried it once, and it was totally because of peer pressure and didn’t sound genuine at all. Apparently, these people I hung out with thought you were more mature if every other word was swearing, but I would definitely disagree. On the other side, some teens do it and you don’t even blink because it fits so well into their style of talking. If books for anyone (yes, adults as well) use swearing, I personally think it should be used a) for character development (as in, that’s how they talk and it makes them more real to readers) and b) when the situation warrants it. Some authors make non-swearing teens sound more ridiculous than anything to the point you might think “Okay, just say the word!” Other times, I think it’s smart writing to avoid loads of swears. A well-placed, situation-appropriate swear makes the situation seem as dramatic/dire as the author intended it to be if the rest of the book is relatively clean.

  2. LG
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 06:45:04

    I don’t necessarily mind “stuff from the top of the dresser” type covers either, but I am going to miss actual color if this “50 Shading” of cover art thing gets too out of hand.

  3. Mireya
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 07:19:21

    With the covers they are doing pretty much the same thing that was done to even classics when “Twilight” was “the” thing, remember “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre”? Everyone is jumping on the “bandwagon” which is pretty much par the course now. It is all about the quickest way to make a buck. I can’t say the cover changes bother me. I can’t recall when was the last time I bought a print book. A few years ago, when I was still buying print as well, I can say covers did factor in in my buying tendencies when I went browsing in brick and mortar bookstores. Now, not so much.

    Regarding the YA sanitizing. The logic is understandable, however, good luck to the parents trying to get their kids away from “evil” books, I don’t think I need to go into further detail as to why am I wishing them luck on that endeavor.


  4. Las
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 08:14:59

    The biggest concern I have, though, is that publishers believe that it is the sex in the story that is selling and not the emotional conflict that ends with a committed relationship.

    I highly doubt that those books would be selling without the sex. Yes, the emotional conflict is equally important and I don’t want publishers to forget that, but the reason the 50’s trilogy was such a success among adult women is because it was Twilight + Sex – Obvious Romance Label. But then I’ve never understood the community’s vehement objection to the “porn” label…I hate the “mommy” part, but, for me, if Romance didn’t have sex it’d be no different from YA and “chick-lit.”

    As for covers, I’ll admit that if they weren’t copied from such a lousy written set of books I’d be fine with them. Sure, the lack of creativity sucks but when have Romance covers ever been creative?

  5. Carrie
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 08:40:33

    Most readers aren’t impressed by “Rita winner” on the cover. Nobody will place any stock in one of a hundred no-name endorsement givers. I’ve been getting an email in my inbox every week for at least two years from one service or another offering their “seal of approval” for self-published books. It’s hardly a new form of squeezing a buck out of writers desperate for an air of legitimacy, especially those who confuse a $65 crit with a pricey professional editor and think they’re getting equivalent service at a bargain price. There are far better ways to invest that money.

  6. Carolyn Jewel
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 08:51:23

    I am very very tired of all these services designed to separate authors from their money. Actually, tired isn’t the word.

  7. jmc
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 09:56:46

    On tilt-shift photography: a while back I found a photo of the Church of the Holy Cross outside Segovia, Spain, that I absolutely love. Being a terrible photographer, nothing I’ve attempted has come out looking like anything I’d share, but I love what it does to colors and perspective.

  8. DS
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 10:04:42

    @Carrie: Having just given up on a self published book that was amazingly badly written– with a good cover, a good title and a tolerable sample, I am probably in the mood for a seal of some sort. However, I think a “Don’t bother” seal would be more useful to the reader.

    Thank goodness I did not spend any money on that book.

  9. LeeF
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 11:40:26

    When I bought the 50’s Shade trilogy (before all the craziness started), I found the covers quite attractive (still do). A bit different and slightly more sophisticated. I think Sylvia Day’s answer on her website about why the cover was changed for “Bared to You” says it all:

    “The blue cover with a naked woman being embraced by a man was one I commissioned for the self-published edition of the story. When Berkley acquired the rights to publish the book, they chose to use a new cover that was less provocative and therefore easier to place with retailers.”

  10. Ros
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 11:54:29

    I would be very happy to see the end of mantitty covers, personally. Though what I would really like to see is more creativity, not a whole host of 50 Shades knock offs.

  11. Fbone
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 12:34:32

    Could it just be a cost saving measure to have model-less covers?

  12. Janine
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 12:38:47

    Plume, for example, is trying to repackage Anne Rice’s erotica trilogy and sell it to the 50 Shades crowd. For anyone who has read the 50 Shades books, they know that the BDSM in the story is quite tame.

    But actually, the original covers for Anne Rice’s erotica trilogy had something in common with the 50 Shades covers. No, they didn’t feature ties and masks, but they were also very discreet and didn’t indicate the books were erotica. I once read an interview with Rice in which she specifically credited this aspect of her covers for making the Sleeping Beauty books bestsellers. At the time, she said that her erotic trilogy, taken together, outsold Interview with a Vampire.

    (I’m not keen on Rice’s erotica but was a huge fan of her earliest vampire books, so I read a lot of interviews with Rice when I was young.)

    Personally, I’m in favor of covers that don’t scream sex. I just wish that publishers would be more creative with them.

  13. Jane
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 12:44:12

    @Janine – plume has re released the series and is marketing them for fans of the 50 shade.

  14. Janine
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 12:56:26

    @Jane: Yes, I know, and I agree there’s a good chance the books won’t appeal to the same readership. My point is just that the same lesson publishers are taking from the 50 Shades covers — that discreet covers have a broader appeal than overtly sexy ones — could have been gleaned from sales of Rice’s trilogy 25 years ago.

  15. Hannah E.
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 13:09:13

    I’m all for the new book cover trend, personally. It might mean I can read my romances in public without embarassment. I hate clinch covers, mantitty covers, etc. I am not ashamed of reading romances, but I am deeply annoyed that publishers think I need to see half-naked people on a book in order to buy it.

  16. Jess
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 13:51:37

    @Hannah E.:
    Personally, I’d like to see more book covers in the speculative fiction genre (which in my mind includes romance because romance novels tend to answer the question “What if…?”) feature scenery with no people/people-like entities. Sometimes I think location plays almost as important a role as the characters and I’d like to have a physical representation of a place the author describes.

  17. Jaili
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 14:27:00

    Argh, I feel so dense as I’m struggling to make sense of tilt-shift photography. Wikipedia isn’t helpful. Am I right to think it’s to do with an ability to make an actual location look like a toy miniature? Or is it about manipulating depth and space to fit all in one specific area?


    I would be very happy to see the end of mantitty covers, personally. Though what I would really like to see is more creativity, not a whole host of 50 Shades knock offs.

    Quote of the day.

  18. Lynn S.
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 16:08:07

    Covers can never reflect content but, although they’re actually whiter than all those bare-chested white guy covers, as eye candy goes, I prefer the new trend of Vanity Fair/House Beautiful-inspired artwork.

  19. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 17:44:32

    Am I right to think it’s to do with an ability to make an actual location look like a toy miniature?

    Yes! Toy miniatures! That’s exactly what those photos look like. They kinda creep me out.

  20. J S
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 20:09:13

    @Hannah E.:

    Covers are important! I saw a guy in a tire store reading 50-shades – if that book had the usual category cover he certainly wouldn’t be reading it there. I heard that romance sales are up a lot due to ebooks wrapping the guilty pleasures for public consumption. Hiring models to do covers is pricy for traditional publishers when the independent authors are nipping at their heels so expect more of this trend.

  21. Rebecca
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 21:28:45

    Not a fan of the e-book only imprint trend. Impulse has print on demand I think, I wish some of the others would as well. Nothing I hate more than finding out about a book, deciding I want to read it, and then finding out it’s e-only.

  22. eggs
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 04:02:19

    I haven’t read the 50 shades books, but if they can bring about an end to man-titty covers I will be eternally grateful to the publishing house employee that chose the cover. I hate man-titty covers, mostly because they are posed by heavily muscled models and, while I know this is very unfashionable, heavily muscled bodies gross me out.

  23. Liviania
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 18:23:58


    For tilt shift photography, you take your lens off the body of the camera and hold it at a slight angle over where it would normally be firmly attached. This can result in a range of distortions.

  24. J S
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:06:52

    Here is a way to tilt shift with any photo for free (uses software)

  25. Folklorist
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 00:53:21

    I despise man-titty covers, swoon covers — anything that screams, “Look at all the stereotypes I am pretending to enforce!” Not only do they all look ugly and the same to me, but they tell me nothing of the plot. Some romance readers may want more or less interchangeable characters; for me personally, it’s all about the plot, and it does nothing for me if I can’t tell what the story is about besides the romance. Also, I love pretty art, and man-titty isn’t pretty (IMHO). I feel just as strongly about bad fantasy covers as well, and really ugly author fonts for mystery titles with clashing colors, and mythoughtsonyaoiletmetellyouthem, and…

    That was one of the reasons I loved buying ebooks when they were first available. I was able to concentrate on the story without the covers distracting me.

  26. Artemis
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:57:50

    A cover conveys a visual that keeps me interested in a book. What is so interesting about a nondescript pair of dog tags? Not a thing. Every person that has served in the military has them and contain vital information pertaining to that particular person.

    I for one despise the trend that FSOG has brought to the covers: boring and colorless.

    I shall cling to my print editions of Lora Leigh’s Elite Op’s series. Along with all the other man-titty, the clutch, et-al, that are on my book shelves.

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