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Romance > headless bodies on covers

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message 1: by Ginney (new)

Ginney Etherton | 31 comments I'm curious about the trend of book covers depicting people with their heads cut off. It's not just romance books, but it seems like that's where I see it most often. I'm not putting it down. I just don't get it.


message 2: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (stephenp11) | 272 comments A little off topic but in the cover for Nukekubi it is fully justified as the word means headless or neck-less depending on who you speak to and it refers to a Japanese goblin that detaches its head from its body and flies around scaring people to death. I know this isn’t what you meant but it was too apropos to pass up.

Nukekubi Nukekubi by Stephen B. Pearl


message 3: by Ginney (new)

Ginney Etherton | 31 comments You may be on to something. Scary.


message 4: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna Leo (rosanna_leo) Ginney wrote: "I'm curious about the trend of book covers depicting people with their heads cut off. It's not just romance books, but it seems like that's where I see it most often. I'm not putting it down. I jus..."

Hi Ginney. As an author whose books mostly feature almost-headless men (I write romance), I think I know the reason. In romance, we want to fantasize about the main characters. Generally on a cover, you will see the man's buff body but the head stops somewhere around chin level. This way, you can visualize the hero the way you like him. Just my thoughts.


message 5: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2163 comments Headless bodies on covers eh? Hmm..Cant say ive seen alot but if its depicted graphically and well enough it would most likely get me to check the book out! lol..maybe thats just me.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Where have I been? I have seen only one "headless" on a cover, and that was to emphasize the title. I'll have to check around and see what I have been missing.
LOL
How about bodyless heads covers? That could conjure up a gory title or two, I guess.


message 7: by Ginney (new)

Ginney Etherton | 31 comments I understand both points, Rosanna & Alexis. For my covers (general fiction) I wanted to include the character but also leave something to the imagination. One is 3/4 profile and the other is kind of hidden by her hood. I hope it's not too cheesy.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments Interesting discussion. Here's my take. If it compels the reader to open the book up, or to turn it over to read the blurb on the back, or -- best yet -- to sample a bit of the prose inside, then it is an effective cover, doing what it was designed to do. Book covers are product packaging. To be effective they need to be designed, from the beginning, to compel the reader to act. Depending upon the genre, the market, the style of the writing, even cheesy can be effective.


message 9: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna Leo (rosanna_leo) Ginney wrote: "I understand both points, Rosanna & Alexis. For my covers (general fiction) I wanted to include the character but also leave something to the imagination. One is 3/4 profile and the other is kind o..."

If it draws folks in, it can't be that cheesy! LOL


message 10: by Becca (new)

Becca Nyx | 22 comments I have headless bodies on my book cover. I feel that it plays to the imagination that it could by anyone.


message 11: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) I also like letting my imagination finish the job.


message 12: by A.L. (last edited Mar 15, 2013 06:16AM) (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments It is probably the same male torso depicted. But yes, probably so the reader can visualise in his/her own head the face of the person.

Lol is one cover where the male figure is headless but reclined on a bed wearing just some shorts, the angle of the shot shows 'something' outside the shorts. Now I assume it is the edge of his hand but it could be seen as something else. It is hard to see but there is definitely something. Next time I spot it on facebook I will link it.
Maybe it is just me:)


message 13: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna Leo (rosanna_leo) I must admit, when I see the whole person from top to bottom on a cover, it usually jars with my mental image of the character in some way (and usually doesn't look as good- LOL). I like a bit of mystery. If that means no head, so be it! :)


message 14: by John (new)

John Hancock (johngregoryhancock) | 135 comments I think its amusing because years ago there was a huge furor over men's magazines cropping off women's heads and it was considered demeaning and objectifying. But on Romance books its ok, I guess.


message 15: by Ginney (new)

Ginney Etherton | 31 comments Good point, John. When does "leaving something to the imagination" become objectifying?(Please pardon the gerund.) Hunky torsos on book covers send an instant message to browsers, I get that. But do they also show a lack of imagination on the part of the cover designer?


message 16: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I think that if you have a romance cover of someone's torso its not meant to be demeaning or objectifying its more so that you get the steam of the book without limiting your imagination to what the character looks like. I think you can feature a body without it being demeaning if you have the right intent.

I think the covers without people on them tend to be more imaginative but I don't think not having a head is due to lack of imagination of the cover designer just trying to open imagination up for others.


message 17: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna Leo (rosanna_leo) Melissa wrote: "I think that if you have a romance cover of someone's torso its not meant to be demeaning or objectifying its more so that you get the steam of the book without limiting your imagination to what th..."

I'm with you there, Melissa. An example, not of headless, but faceless, covers are Lauren Kate's. The girl on the front is always turned away so you can't quite see her completely. I think these are such beautiful covers and so striking and the lack of a full face doesn't impact on the pleasure I receive looking at them.


message 18: by Judy (new)

Judy Goodwin | 136 comments Personally I always looked at those headless covers (male or female) and thought it was just bad photography. A picture of an elbow or a throat could be sexy, yes. But if you're showing the majority of a person just to cut off their head, why bother?

I actually do like the new trend of showing objects instead--pair gloves, eyeglasses, a compact mirror, etc. If you want people to get an idea of the flavor of the book but still come up with their own images of the characters, that's a nice way to do it.

Save the heads!


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I personally don't like people on covers (just my preference), especially since they never seem to look like the characters in the book are meant to look like. But if there is a person on the cover, I think having a head is a good idea. No head works sometimes, but I like to see their expression; you can tell how they feel through body language, but personally I think facial expressions say a lot more.


message 20: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) John, I hadn't heard that. How interesting. I'm trying to picture a magazine cover of a woman without a head.


message 21: by John (new)

John Hancock (johngregoryhancock) | 135 comments abigail, these were men's magazines. penthouse if i recall


message 22: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 42 comments A lot of advertising uses headless female bodies unfortunately. It's a sad reflection on our society in my opinion. It's a bit like the ultimate "coat hanger" really... There's a bit of a trend to use men in the same way now as well, just focusing a bit...lower...


message 23: by Pia (last edited Mar 18, 2013 04:10AM) (new)

Pia Sparks (piasparks) | 5 comments Darn! I was kind of pondering the headless torso couple type cover for my first book, because I can't find affordable stock photos for my cover that look like my main characters. I don't want to limit people's imagination of what they look like, but now I'll rethink. Great thread! Great posts.


message 24: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) Lia, I think no matter what you choose, you'll have some who love it and some that don't. Go with what makes YOU happy.

John, thanks for the clarification. :)


message 25: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) Sorry, PIA. I do know how to spell...


message 26: by Pia (new)

Pia Sparks (piasparks) | 5 comments I think I like Lia better, LOL. :) There's something about the "headless torso" that just doesn't seem as sexy now. I'm going to test different ones. The other idea was the "object" cover, which someone mentions here, too. But if anyone knows Benedict Cumberbatch and can con him to be half naked on the cover of my book, feel free to chime in. :)


message 27: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 118 comments Rosanna wrote: "In romance, we want to fantasize about the main characters. Generally on a cover, you will see the man's buff body but the head stops somewhere around chin level. This way, you can visualize the hero the way you like him. Just my thoughts. ..."

Well, I absolutely, thoroughly and viscerally HATE buff male bodies. It's a major turn off, and I mean truly turns me off the male character to read he is uber-ripped, uber-muscular, endowed with six-packs and *ceps of humongous sizes. I immediately think "humourless gorilla with brains the size of a pea and steeped in the wrong kind of values".

So all these headless torsi really turn me off, and it takes recs from friends and excellent excerpts for me to buy IN SPITE of the fugly guy or guys on the cover.

So please, no torsi (headless or otherwise). Anything else, just no torsi. An entirely black cover is preferable to that.


message 28: by John (new)

John Hancock (johngregoryhancock) | 135 comments um.. I think I'm the wrong person to speak up here, as I'm a guy, and don't read a lot (meaning: almost no) romance novels. But recently I've offered to read and review a couple before I knew they were mainly romance (got fooled by the "paranormal" part of "paranormal romance").
But in my limited experience, I have to ask a question:

Why does EVERYONE in a small town (Cove, Harbor, Scape, Island) have to look like they walked off a GQ or COSMO magazine cover? I mean, in a town of any given size, there might be 3 people with good genes, tops. That's pushing it. But the ones I read, the descriptions went on and on about how smolderingly handsome everyone was, male, female, dogcatcher. In fact, the only person not described as outrageously handsome was the solitary bad guy, so since he was the only non-gorgeous person in town, it was kinda easy to figure out the mystery. duh.

I guess for guys, it'd be nice, but NOT REQUIRED that the object of our literary affection be attractive. She can have a small something about her that strikes us a certain way. But the whole town doesn't have to be model-gorgeous.

The reason I ask is this makes it seem the characters are interchangeable, and therefore disposable. So that when the heroine finally picks a guy, I think "oh, the extremely hunky handsome guy with the red hair or the extremely hunky handsome guy with the blonde hair?"


message 29: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 73 comments I have nothing constructive to say, except that this post made me laugh so hard I spit out my coffee.
Thank you.
Off to look at headless-torso book covers now...


message 30: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) John, it's the escape from realism. And it's not for everyone, just like true crime isn't for everyone or sci-fi isn't for everyone.


message 31: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Parker (lafp) | 22 comments Remember Fabio? He gained fame by posing on some historical romance novels. Maybe it is an attempt to thwart a cult of personality that does nothing to promote the book.


message 32: by John (new)

John Hancock (johngregoryhancock) | 135 comments Abigail wrote: "John, it's the escape from realism. And it's not for everyone, just like true crime isn't for everyone or sci-fi isn't for everyone."

No, no I get that its a niche thing. I'm just wondering "why" is it a niche thing? What is the mechanism? does it mean that romance novel readers will be confused or repulsed if more than one character is normal (non smoldering) looking?

You can have a perfectly good romance story, and ONLY change the descriptions to normal looking people, and does that make it unsaleable?

Just curious, is all. But I can accept that's the way it is.


message 33: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 118 comments John wrote: "You can have a perfectly good romance story, and ONLY change the descriptions to normal looking people, and does that make it unsaleable? ..."

They would become buyable for me ;) I'm totally with you there.


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