Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Romancing the Cover

A Flame Run Wild,#PinoDaeni,#romance,#cover,#writingtips,#fiction,#romancewriters
Pino Daeni
I have been a long-time fan of Pino Daeni (November 8, 1939 – May 25, 2010). Thanks to my darling husband, I am also the proud owner of several of his paintings. I would stare at his work every time we entered an art store. I loved his portraiture, but what I really wanted was to be able to paint like that. Alas, portrait painting is one of those dreams that got away, but I get to admire his technique on a daily basis.

Long ago in the publishing world, artists were commissioned to create original paintings. Pino’s impressionist romantic style graced over 3,000 book covers, movie posters, and magazine illustrations.


Pino began illustrating books for Italian publishers. When he moved to New York, his work caught the attention of Dell, Zebra, Bantam, Simon & Schuster, Penguin USA, Dell, and Harlequin. His romance novel covers graced works by Danielle Steel, Sylvie Summerfield, and Amanda Ashley and featured the famous model Fabio.


Alas, Pino left the book illustration business to focus on his own work and the beautiful paintings of past decades have been replaced by photography of muscled men and seductive sirens. 

The art of the cover has further been diluted by the use of stock photos, sometimes the same photo and models on multiple covers.

Here is a list of sites you can visit to build your own sizzling cover.

1. Romance Novel Covers

2. Novel Expression

3. Glass Giant

4. Creativ Indie Covers

5. The Book Cover Designer

6. Self Pub Book Covers

You can even mock-up your own hot romance at Romance Novel Yourself.

Tweet: As much as the process has changed, nothing sells a romance novel better than a cover featuring a passionate embrace by “beautiful people.”

As to whether featuring only "beautiful people" sends a healthy message, is an argument for another day.

You can further explore the romance genre with the following posts:

Sex Versus Romance

The Rules of Romance

Bad Romance

Diana Hurwitz
 is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Wow, Daeni's artwork is gorgeous. Thanks for the reminder that this can be a beautiful art form. Some of the modern cut-and-past cover models can feel a bit commercial, though I know that's not always the case.

  2. And they say, 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' ... what do 'they' know?

    1. I'm pretty sure the romance cover says it all. :)

  3. Thanks for this, Diana. I was a fashion illustrator for many years, and now that art has mostly been replaced by photographs. I'm not sure which stores are still illustrating, but there aren't many. Also, great magazine illustrators are a thing of the past, and it's sad. These covers are gorgeous. What a lost art.

  4. Thanks for the list of places to go for cover ideas. I confess to using stock covers, but since I don't pick the first ones that come up, so far I haven't seen anyone else using them.

    1. I could look at some of those sites all day, especially Deviant Art.

  5. I was struck by your topic for another day: whether featuring only "beautiful people" on book covers sends a healthy message. As a well-seasoned lady, I would like to suggest that occasionally featuring those who could be middle-aged or a bit older might open up a whole new audience of readers -- assuming the cover accurately represents the story, of course. Let's face it: we're never going to be young again, and there are a lot of us older folks. However, we're far from dead.

    Back in the early 50s, my mother listened to soap operas on the radio. One of her favorites was "The Romance of Helen Trent." The lead character was 35 throughout the program's 27-year run (1933 - 1960; 7,222 episodes), and her forever boyfriend was Gil Whitney. The premise of the story was whether a woman of (the ripe old age of) 35 could find romance and happiness. Since I don't recall that Helen and Gil ever married, I have to wonder whether the writers believed that a 35-year-old woman had passed her prime and was destined to be an old maid. Hmmm. As the saying goes, snow on the roof doesn't mean there's no fire in the furnace. Personally, I'd like to see some older (slim, attractive, and healthy-looking) models on book covers. I might even buy the books. :-)

    1. Why do they have to be slim? :) I did see a post once that mocked up romance covers with "normal, everyday" people. The results were comical because they were photographed that way, but what if we made sure it wasn't comical? Don't get me started on the assumption that anyone over 55 isn't interested in sex!


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