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Rock the Boat [resubmit]

The author says:

ROCK THE BOAT is an erotic romance or maybe a (romantic thriller I’m really not sure) set in current day America. A simple love affair becomes complicated when a soldier shares his new wife with his best friend. Parental disapproval escalates to lies and manipulation. A man with an obsession, a kidnapped spouse, and a murder, change a happy home into a nightmare. One that might be fixed by choosing the right man. this is my third attempt at a cover. I’m going for a hint of sex in a thriller vibe. The covers for erotica books are not at all the ‘feel’ for my story. Mine has very little actual erotica in it.Sorry I’m not clearer, I’m confused myself on my genre.



[original submission and comments here]

Nathan says:

If this isn’t erotic, then you are going to have a lot of readers angry at you for the bait-and-switch, because that definitely ain’t a “hint of sex in a thriller” vibe.  That’s a bikini babe.

The most important role of a cover is to attract the kind of readers who would enjoy the book.  That means you need to know who your target audience is.  Then you need to figure out which other books those same readers would like, and use the covers of those books to learn how those readers are accustomed to being marketed to.

Until then, you’re just throwing random things into PhotoShop.


  1. Those are some fine rocks for that boat.

    The picture is aspect ratio distorted, which isn’t helping.

    Okay now for the actual problem. You don’t know what your genre is. You need to decide, or you can’t make the cover.

    Either think of some books like your book and see their genres, get some people to read this book and tell you what genre they would classify it as, or decide what it is.

    It can be an erotic thriller romance, if it is that. Decide what this book is and then make the cover, and then own it! Until then though, you can’t design anything. Or market anything. or anything anything!

  2. Well, if there isn’t much erotica in your book, then it’s fair to say it’s not an erotic romance, which would basically be nonstop sex from beginning to end. So erotic thriller, or just plain thriller since there’s no rule that adult thrillers can’t have steamy sex scenes.

    I assume this is just a mock-up so I won’t get on your case about the stolen stock image. The problem here is that you’ve taken “there’s a little bit of erotica in this book” way too literally and put just a little bit of a babe on your cover. You can either use sexy imagery on your cover or not, but you can’t have it both ways by sneaking in a bit of sexy at the edge.

    1. I bought the picture but pasted an original attempt. I intend to use the same girl on a different project. (maybe) This site has me rethinking some of my design ideas. Nathan has great insights.

  3. One positive bit, I like this beach scene much better.

    Other than that, since you say you’re not clear on your own genre, I’d say get reading. Find books similar to yours and read them, then look at what genre they are. Also take a long look at their covers, to give you an idea of the direction you should choose in cover design.

    Not only is it a short task (depending on your reading speed, but what author doesn’t read at least a little fast) which will help you market your book, it will also give you an idea of any last minute tweaks you might want to make to the text to push the book from great to perfect.

    Good luck, looking forward to seeing more after you find your way!

  4. I’ve been comparing published books and asked my beta readers and I’m pretty sure what I have is a Romantic thriller. The covers tend to range from a man’s naked torso to a house with eerie lighting, two people embracing, or floating eyes, almost indistinguishable from straight thriller covers although there are less guns and weapons shown. color palate is all over the place, but if I had to pick one I would say a majority are blue/gray toned.
    This posted cover would fit in style wise, but lacks oomph.

    1. Well…I wouldn’t say it lacks ooomph. It’s oomphy. The problem may be, as Nathan noted, that it does sort of imply that it’s a “romantica” book (a domesticated softcore title, with an HEA for the erotically-entangled heroes/heroines.)

      I VERY MUCH like this cover compared to the prior. The prior was really not good. I think that this one has possibilities. I agree that it might be a touch misleading. But if you had to choose, use this one. I wish I had a better suggestion for you, but I don’t. If it’s a romantic thriller (a category that I admit, makes me wince a bit)…are you SURE that they’re bluey-grey? Really?

      I do find it a bit odd to consider a wife-swapping/sharing scenario in a romance book. But that’s not our job here; we’re here for covers alone.

      Perhaps there’s a way to emphasize the Triangle? (Although…is it a classic triangle, if the husband is willingly sharing his wife???) Or the murder?

      I do want to emphasize again that you’ve made great strides since the last one. Well done on that front.

  5. So… more violence, less sex? I think we can just call this a romantic thriller, and let it go at that, unless it’s going to be a Lifetime-Movie-of-the-Week kind of story like Gone Girl (which is not really so erotic, though it’s my understanding it did have a few rather steamy scenes in it), in which case I’d call it a romantic urban horror.

    Either way, the Mortal Passions-style cover I recommended on your previous draft should still be fairly good template, just with the gal being more clothed and the weapon being more prominent. Again, depending on whether she’s the one threatened or the one doing the threatening, either show someone’s hand holding the weapon on her or else have her holding the weapon. Since this is more about the violence than the sex, make sure that either way the weapon is more prominent and the pretty gal is less so.

    To give an example, here are two stock images I might use for this cover if the weapon in question were a gun:

    1. The gal is the one doing the threatening.

    2. The gal is the one being threatened.

    See how this works?

  6. Less skin, more excitement, I would say.

    The babe is a bit flattened in the edge, and if we are not getting sex, let’s not hint at it; I think nowadays everything has some sex in it, so unless that is front and centre in the story, better not push that angle too much. Otherwise I would unflatten her a bit and let her take more of the cover.

    Without the babe, the cover looks like one for literary fiction, or maybe a self help book for divorcees – very solemn in any case. It is a pity it is actually quite nice, just for some other book.

    Amazon has a section of romance – mystery and suspense – love triangle, and there are some covers there that could act as inspiration. Some are admittedly awful, don’t copy those: “Siren Publishing Menage Everlasting” especially is LBC-bad, but there are some that convey suspense well.

  7. I’m sorry if my book description is unclear. There is definitely sex,(graphic sex) its just not on every page like most erotic books. The plot is based on two men sharing one woman after all. Guy gets the girl-classic romance scenario Thriller-kidnapping-murder. I asked my beta readers their opinions of the next cover attempt and they agree its much better than the previous ones (all thanks to you guys here) and if they picked up the book by the cover alone they wouldn’t be disappointed, but they all have already read the book, so I’m not sure how unconsciously biased they are.
    PS. RK I did use your ripped page idea on the next attempt, with Hitch’s add red for thriller. You guys are really so kind to offer your time like this and it’s appreciated.
    PSS. My cover attempts improved so markedly that my beta readers, who are themselves mostly aspiring writers, will probably be posting here as I informed them how helpful this site was and any improvements were due to you.

  8. A lot of things wrong with this cover, most of which have already been talked about.

    There is simply too much going on and too much of it is poorly handled. For instance, all of the art and text is symmetrical…with part of a woman shoved in from one side apparently as an afterthought.

    While I appreciate the fact that there may be graphic sex in the novel (even though you say it contains “very little actual erotica”) the image A. doesn’t suggest that at all, B. doesn’t suggest the kind of relationships you describe and C. doesn’t remotely get across any sense of the book being a thriller.

    You need to work on imagery that better gets across the nature of the book and what it is about.

    I assume that the example is just a dummy mockup since the stock photo watermark is still on the girl.

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