Did you know there are rules to cover art? Sacred dogma passed down through the millennia? These secrets vary from publishing house to publishing house and I suspect editor to editor. Some will tell you that books with blond heroes on the cover sell poorly. So, while an author has full freedom to write about a blond hero, the fellow on her cover will have dark hair. Prussian heroes don’t sell (yet Arnold Schwarzenegger took that all the way to the bank). Older heroines don’t sell. Widows in mourning don’t sell (all those black clothes-br!). Books with clinches (passionate embraces) are passé/don’t sell well/sell like hotcakes.
But two things that many publishing houses seem to agree on is that heroes with reddish hair should not be on covers (so that poor fellow can forget about making a splash as a cover model), and readers find men with beards and mustaches shady (and hence, you know, they should not be on covers). They are, pardon the pun, the red-headed step-children of the cover world.
Given all this, I knew the hero of my July book, The Captain’s Courtship, was doomed to live out his life between the pages and never on a cover, for he has auburn hair, beard, and mustache! I was resigned to seeing a dark-haired, clean-shaven hunk, er gentleman on the cover. Imagine my delight when I received a copy of my cover this week and saw what the artists had done. There is Captain Richard Everard, in all his russet-haired, bearded, mustachioed glory, standing by his favorite place at Dallsten Manor, the pond. There is Dallsten Manor, pretty much the way I pictured it. And goodness but look—Lady Claire is dressed in her black widow’s mourning, and looking rather dashing, I think.
Very likely this means my book is doomed to fail, but I like to hope it will rise against the odds, just like Richard and Claire.
Care to guess who I asked the artists to use as examples for them? Here’s a couple hints. The lady has not only acted in Jane Austen movie adaptations but directed one. When it comes to historical movies, the gentleman is better known for his role in an American miniseries, and the closest he’s gotten to Jane Austen’s period is a Napoleonic war naval uniform on the holodeck.