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The Straight Dude Up in the Front House

The author says:

Sports plus romance between two dudes, Sports story about two college age dudes who meet when the straight dude moves into the front house, and they start practicing Soccer drills together, and playing on the same team. They draw closer over time, share a lot, and the straight dude finds himself in love with his slightly older mentor, coach, who’s been like a big brother, nurturing him. They run up against circumstances and ingrained attitudes and both have to get some enlightenment in order to reach a happy ending.

Dude in Front House Cover 1-1

Dude in Front House Cover 1-1

Nathan says:

Again, I’m not even remotely the target audience for this, but here’s my first big impression:


You’ve got a guy in shorts just standing there, against a white background. Even the type is dull.  Take a look at this and say, “If I saw this in a bookstore or on Amazon, what would make me want to pick this up?”

Remember, your readers have a choice, and the choice isn’t between your book or nothing. It’s between your book and the other books next to it.  Why would someone want to check out the description on your book, instead of the next book to right or left?

There are plenty of romance novels. There are plenty of gay romance novels. I’m guessing (without wanting to check) that there are plenty of sports-themed gay romance novels.  Give the readers of sports-themed gay romance novels a reason to think that this sports-themed gay romance novel is the one they should check out.

Other comments?


  1. Hmmm. Not my area of expertise either, but this doesn’t say “book cover” to me at all. It looks more like an ad for a soccer ball, boxer knickers… or maybe leg prostheses? Oh, wait, because it’s white on white background it’s impossible to tell that the amputated legs are actually at the edge of the book.

    I would guess that the font is a system font, the primary colour and the typography (all caps, two lines centered) are all dead give-aways that the cover is DIY. But the author name stacked in a box to the side is just puzzling. If I couldn’t read it (which I can’t at thumbnail) I’d guess this was a tag line (Just DO IT!) instead of an author name.

    I’m with Nate (as usual) on this one. Some study into the genre standards/norms would not go amiss and would give the author/designer a better place to start.

  2. Unlike Nathan and Tamian, I *do* read gay romance, but I still have to agree with them. Author, please just… look at a book cover. Observe its layout. Book covers don’t look like this.

  3. Here’s the “gay romance sports” search results on Amazon.

    What I first see there is that the covers all contain drama/tension in the model’s pose or in the colors. If the cover model doesn’t have action or expression, the tension is added by contrasting colors, or by desaturated colors up against saturated colors, and by dramatic lighting on the model.

    Secondly, I see that the titles are bigger–taking up 1/3 to 2/3 or so of the cover–and generally have text effects of one sort or another applied to them.

    If I were doing this cover, I’d make the title big and impressive, and add a bit of oopmh to it with differing font sizes (assume that bold means bigger):


    Most of the covers on that Amazon search have a background, even if it’s just abstract textures and colors. The ones that don’t have backgrounds have the model fill up most of the cover real estate, instead of floating him in a featureless sea of white or black.

    If you’re going for a blank background, steer away from white because Amazon’s background is white and like Tamian says above, it’s going to look weird because you can’t see the edges of the cover.

  4. I agree with Tamian that it reads “advertisement or notice” way more than it reads “book cover.” Here’s Goodreads’ gay sports romance shelf to help you out.

    Generally I agree with all Augusta’s comments. Romance is a genre where the traditional approach is always right. The current guy would be a looker if I saw him at the gym, but he’s no Fabio. You want a big buff dude with well-oiled bare abs taking up most of the cover, basketball court in the background, big typography with either a romancey script font or a sports-styled font (or both). And keep that background relatively dark so the eye goes right to the abs.


    1. I dunno, I think the guy on this “cover” has the right style/vibe for the whole “innocent straight guy seduced into gay sex” genre.

  5. Definitely not something I’d want to read either, but it’s not so different from other Romance sub-genres I do find to my liking. As it happens, we’ve already had a pretty good romance novel cover on here that should handily serve as a template for yours. Just do this, except with two dudes in sports clothing, and (since this presumably has nothing paranormal about it) with a cheerier-colored daytime background.

  6. I’m not even sure if I understand the title! But perhaps that’s just me.

    In any case, I have to agree with the others: the cover is simply uninteresting, nor does it convey anything at all of what the book is about or what its themes may be. You describe the book as being a “Sports plus romance between two dudes”—you might have at least shown two men on the cover.

    One way to judge the effectiveness of a cover is to imagine the title in a language you don’t understand. Does the imagery or design alone tell you anything about the book or its subject? I think the answer in this case is “no.”

  7. I’m sorry, but this looks like an underwear ad. Especially since there’s no background so the edges get lost in the white of the page. If I saw this on Amazon, I would think Amazon started to stick paid advertisements in the middle of the book search results.

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