Art and Design Marketing

The evolution of romance covers

Bookmarked Bridgerton Is a Perfect Example of Why You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover(s) by Anne Wallentine (Slate)

The Bridgerton books got a makeover inspired by the steamy Netflix adaptation—the latest in a long line of redesigns that show how tricky marketing romance can be.

Publishers have used myriad strategies over the years to try to balance the audience’s competing desires for excitement and discretion.

A balancing act between marketing the type of book versus not making people embarrassed to be seen reading it. Adds context to the general sexiness of self-pubbed romance covers which are read digitally, so no one knows what you’re reading (although IIRC there was a period of time where Amazon didn’t allow male nipples on covers? 🤔)

I didn’t know the origin or purpose of the stepback cover — funny when the color strip is reproduced in the digital cover 😂

Romance Science Fiction

Read Antidote

Read Antidote (Love and War, #1) by R.A. Steffan

Skye Chantrell has just escaped a war zone.
She’s carrying the stolen antidote to a deadly bioweapon.

When her damaged shuttle crashes on a remote lunar outpost, she’s captured by the leader of a rogue group of barbaric aliens. Now her people’s fate—not to mention her own—rests in the hands of the Seven Systems’ most feared and hated criminal.

A man with the face of a brutal thug, and the eyes of an angel.

* * *

Hunter Tarthasian has every reason to hate the Regime.

He and his comrades have gone rogue, vowing to use every means at their disposal to bring down the evil Premiere. Now, they’re wanted and on the run, holed up in an abandoned outpost while they plan their next move. The last thing Hunter needs is a female human civvy with a terrible secret crash-landing on his doorstep. Especially when she starts to awaken feelings in him that have no place in his life as a rebel leader.

Feelings that could very easily get all of them killed.

Fast paced with a clear throughline, introducing a whole band of characters for the later books.

The romance in this was a bit perfunctory and instalove, with basically no resistance from either. (He avoided her for a day.) The tension was bound up in the external plot, which progressed rapidly but gave them time to spend together.

Fantasy Romance

Read Electric Idol

Read Electric Idol (Dark Olympus, #2)

He was the most beautiful man alive. And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death. *A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche…

This was less risque than the first book, but dark in a different way. The love interest is supposed to kill her. Instead, he suggests they get married. So that’s quite a hurdle to overcome, especially as quickly as they do.

I like how she uses a different type of power to defend herself.

Science Fiction

The Sci Fi That Isn’t

Bookmarked Boundary lines by Andrew LiptakAndrew Liptak (Transfer Orbit)

Is that *really* science fiction?

On paper, I’d make the assumption that if a book or author is tackling the subject matter that typically makes up a science fiction book, like newfangled technology or sciences, you’d categorize it as genre fiction. That isn’t the case: you don’t often see the works of Crichton — or for that matter, Tom Clancy and his military thrillers or Daniel Suarez, whose novel Delta-V is explicitly about mining asteroids included in that conversation.

What I think I’ve come to understand is that “Science Fiction” as a label is largely a construct that’s imposed on a body of work by a group of people, and that if you have a book or story that isn’t explicitly marketed to that small group of readers by way of a handful of select publishing outlets like Tor or Orbit or DAW or Baen, they might as well not exist.

I also think about this in relation to romance, and how SF readers will read SF that includes romance as long as it’s not marketed as a romance. And perhaps vice versa – some SF concepts in a romance aren’t enough to market it as light SF (and rightly so given the much larger market for romance books) – but there is the lost opportunity for those ideas to engage with the genre at large. Perhaps because so much of SF is adventure, war, and thriller stories, there’s less room in the genre for quiet stories. Are world changing stakes essential to SF? Vast universes? How subtle can it be and still be considered SF by the community?


Re-read Hold Me

Read Hold Me (Cyclone, #2) by Courtney Milan

Listening Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. Th…

This one is a hard read because the Hero has made some serious mistakes that are rooted in sexism, even if he has reasons for that. But so worthwhile.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Strange Love

Read Strange Love (Galactic Love, #1) by Ann Aguirre

He’s awkward. He’s adorable. He’s alien as hell. Zylar of Kith Balak is a four-time loser in the annual Choosing. If he fails to find a …

Alien abduction / kidnapping with a non humanoid alien, done really well!

Hope there’s a sequel! Would love to see them or someone else take on the injustices of this world.