2020 Releases

The Rock Star's Familiar
The Vampire's Familiar
The Witch's Familiar
Phantasia: Bad Day On Olympus
Ice Cave
Destiny, Desire & Murder
Close to the Truth

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Magic Thursday: Do You Like It Face to Face? with Denise Rossetti

That sexy hero between the pages might be the dark 'n' deadly type, or a husky mechanic or one of those ruthless gorgeous billionaires. All yummy, sure - but do you have a mental image of his face?

I'm completely intrigued by how readers visualize characters, especially beautiful men. Which leads me to the question of covers… Specifically, the cover of Thief of Light, Book #2 in my Four-Sided Pentacle series.

The mass market edition of Thief of Light will be released on 2nd February, which is fabulous, of course, (yay!) but what fascinates me is the way the marketing folk at Berkley have changed the cover.

First, here’s the cover for the trade paperback -

Now here’s the mass market cover -

And to give you have some idea of setting and character, here’s the back cover copy -

Some desires are impossible to resist... In the elegant, subtropical city of Caracole, Erik the Golden is widely known as irresistible; his Voice an instrument of incredible pleasure, the stroke of velvet on bare skin. But the Voice is a curse as much as a blessing, for once Erik used it to steal a soul, and now he must pay.
Pruella Takimori McGuire is the business manager for the beautiful courtesans of the Garden of Nocturnal Delights. She deals in numbers, not Magick, and when Erik turns his charms in her direction, she sees only vanity, not a golden gift. If Erik cannot use his power to win Prue's heart, how can he truly possess her? How is it she can resist what others can't? She's either a torment devised by the gods to drive him mad - or Erik's last hope of salvation.
And all the while, a far darker power corrupts the foundations of Caracole - the Necromancer, who feasts on souls. When the Necromancer's hired assassin kidnaps Prue, Erik must harness his air Magick to recover the woman he has come to love more than life itself...

Erik Thorensen has Viking ancestry, he’s big and buff and blond, with eyes as blue as a noonday sky. *sigh* Okaaaay, the artist, the wonderful James Griffin, delivered all that in spades. (He told me the model is a real person, by the way. Good lord!)

So – which do you prefer? Face or faceless? And can you work out why?

I prefer not to see the full face. My heroes are always so stunning – well, to me anyway – that I have trouble visualizing their faces. Bodies I can do (heh heh) but faces? Nope.

Hugh Jackman? I hear you say. Johnny Depp? Well, of course, but my heroes are a combination of all their best features, way beyond any single mortal man. If you’re going to dream, do it right! All of which is kinda weird, because I often ‘see’ a scene in my head like a movie.

One of the things I absolutely adore about writing is that we all bring a unique imagination to what we read, each reader ‘building’ her own hero in her mind’s eye. In the final analysis, what you imagine matters a lot more than what I write.

Which version of the cover do you like best? Tell me why and you can have your autographed choice – trade paperback or mass market.


  1. I actually like the trade size better. I like the view of the total body with the complete headshot, I think it makes for a hoter cover.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  2. I would definitely buy the mass market book with the close up cover over the trade paperback cover.
    Apologies to the artist but it reminds me of all those 80's covers with Fabio on them - ACK:(
    I usually have a picture in my head of the characters from the authors descriptions which is far sexier and appealing than a face on the cover that chosen by 'marketing folk'. If they want to put a 'hot body' on the cover do it without the face...I'd rather think that up for myself.

  3. I like 'em both... but I'd have to vote for the mass market one as my favourite. Maybe it's because the colours stand out more... I like the pink lettering over the purple, and losing the border makes it pop.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Great to meet you!
    One of the things I really do like about the larger cover is that we get to retain the fabulous swirling background, with all those shades of blue. There's lightning and thunder implied and it's really cool - Erik turns out to be an Air wizard. ;-)

  5. You've expressed my thoughts exactly,Cath. I doubt there's a man alive as gorgeous as what's in my head. Rather a shame, but there it is. *sigh*

    And yes, he is a bit Fabio-ish, but it could be a whole lot worse. It must be hard for the artist to avoid Fabio influences when an author specifically requests a blond built hero with flowing locks. Another reason I prefer the mass market.

  6. I agree with Erica - the mass market simply because the colors are more vibrant. Plus, you can't argue with a close up of those abs. :)


  7. I honestly prefer the Mass Market version myself. He seems to be floating in a lot of 'empty' space in the Trade version. The Mass Market seems to have more impact.

  8. Hi Erica!

    Yes, I think the mass market has more impact. That pink lettering is all shiny and purty too! Really stands out.

    I'd love to know what market research the people in art/marketing do though.

  9. Hi Maureen!

    Ooh yeah, can't argue with the abs! BTW, the artist went to endless trouble to get Erik's talisman right - asked me for a detailed description. James Griffin is awesome! Somehow, he takes my words and turns them into images. It's almost scary how good at it he is.

  10. Interesting to hear an artist's opinion, Lyn. I agree, I think the background in the trade paperback diminishes him a tad. Which is an awful shame. *sigh* I lurve Erik...

  11. I definitely like the mass market version. As a reader, I find it distracting if the main character(s) has his/her/their face(s) depicted on a cover. It robs me of the opportunity to interpret the author's descriptions on my own and to fall in love with the handsome hero or appreciate the quiet beauty of the heroine. I don't want to lose that!

    As an author, unless I pick out pictures of stock models to use in the character descriptions, I find it impossible to ever have an artist accurately depict how a character appears in my mind or within the pages of my novel. So I'd rather find a close body type and leave it up to the reader to fill in the rest. Bodies are a dime a dozen, even the beautiful ones, but our faces are wholly unique.

  12. I'm going to have to go with mass market as well. When I see the full person on a cover, I tend to flip to the cover every now and then rather than let my imagination do all the work.

  13. Ireally like the trade because of the background - it's stunning! Though I do prefer the shot of the model without his faace in it.
    Sounds like a great book btw :-)

  14. I like the mass market paperback version of the cover better. The trade version makes me think 1980s and Fabio.

  15. Hi, Denise!

    You know, I commented to you before about liking the Trade Size better, but I'm rethinking that. I agree with the other ladies about the "Fabio" flashback And I found the cover picture of Tailspin to be just that intriguing because it doesn't show us Miri's whole face.

  16. Hi Denise!
    With a name like that you are clearly intelligent, discerning and awesomely attractive. *grin*

    Seriously, I agree with you, faces are so important in human communication. It's the eyes particularly, I think. Even with 'decapitation' covers, we often get to see the lower part of the face, but not the eyes.

  17. Hi Jaime,

    That's really interesting. So you'll go back to the cover, huh? I wonder what happens when the cover image doesn't match the author's description inside. I've been incredibly lucky with covers (obviously left-over karma from another life *g*), but it does happen, quite often. Must do your head in.

  18. Hi Liia,

    James Griffin is a serious artist with another creative portfolio separate from his bookcover work. I think he gets a real charge out of painting the backgrounds and it's a shame we lose so much of that artistry in the mass market version.

    As for Thief of Light... You can read the first chapter here. http://www.deniserossetti.com/thief.html

    Meant to put it in the post and forgot. *sigh*

  19. I'm sorry but I hate cut-off heads. No contest for me, I love the Trade version with the full facial, and his face slightly in shadow. It's a brilliant cover! And even better if the cover-guy's hair matches the author's description -- another bug-bear of mine if it doesn't. Though it will never stop me finishing a book, it does really disappoint me if descriptions don't match.

  20. MM cover. i like the mystery of his face but though he long hair (loveee long hair on men)
    can stillbe seen blowing back. though i dont like blonds that much, but the man /or woman on the cover should look like the desprition of the man/woman IN the book

  21. Hi Denise!
    I like both covers, with their differences.
    The trade paperback for it's background of swirling colours that kinda fit the title better.
    The mass market one I like for the upclose and personal "BANG" I'm here look (g)

  22. Hi there Daz!

    It is a bit Fabio, isn't it? A shame we think of it as a negative because there's no doubt Fabio was a good looking guy - even if he couldn't tell the difference between butter and margarine. *g*.

  23. Hi Taffy,

    Nice to see you over here in Oz! I like that element of mystery too, I have to admit. And if truth be told, some models have fabulous bodies but not equally fabulous faces to go with them!

  24. No worries, Maree. I remember thinking the Cover Gods were pretty good to me when I saw what James Griffin did with Erik. There's never any problem with the hero matching my description. Jim's meticulous about that.

  25. Hi Blackroze!

    I love long hair on a man too - guess I'm still stuck in my hippy phase. *grin* And funnily enough, my ideal man wouldn't be blond, but Erik insisted he was, so there you go... I haven't written a blond hero before, auburn or red headed, yes, but not blond.

  26. Hi Denise
    I like both covers.
    The trade paperback swirls give the impression of the power surrounding him churning up the air and creating the lightening. The full face is rather gorgeous and can pop into my dreams anytime it likes.
    The mass market makes your eyes focus on his abs and that is ooh such a hardship - Sorry had to wipe the drool away.
    I think the semi-clothed look is more tempting than the naked torso which has become so common in recent years.
    I also agree with Maree that it is very annoying when the features of the characters on the cover have no relationship to those in the story.
    As for the fact you don't see the full face on the Tailspin cover what makes him so intriguing is that he appears to be turning away to leave and you want to call him back.
    Lynn Viehl's Darklyn novel Stay the Night is a good example of cover changes gone wrong. It went from a peachy skin tone to metallic pink. The main character is Robin of Locksley (Robin Hood) so girly pink didn't fit and it blurred the impact of the face shown.
    At least these both work to catch the eye

  27. Hi Mel, my friend!Thanks for popping over.

    To me, the trade cover is more a real painting, whereas the mass market has the punch of an advertisement. Horses for courses, I guess.

  28. Hi Margaret,

    I wish I understood the decisions some of the publishers' art people make. Presumably, they have market research data to guide them. As an author, I want the cover to be so intriguing that you have to pick it up in the store (or scroll down the page) to read the back cover copy. And that's a split second decision!

    On that basis, I'd grab the mass market version first, because, as Mel points out, it has BANG!

  29. Thanks for asking an intriguing question Denise. I like the trade cover for the background, which is sumptuous. I love the swirls of light and color. I like the mass market for the effect of the letting and lack of border. The model is lovely either way. When I read I always have the models body type firmly in my head and the face is ambiguous to me. Even when I have a face on the cover I don't have the covers face in my mind so it doesn't matter to me if it is a torso on the cover or a full body.

    Mom, who reads as much as I, says that she does use the cover image to help create the characters face, but that image isn't held in stone. It can change as she gets to know the character and builds her own mind view. She likes both the covers. She request that you include more of the little animals under the city. She loves them.

  30. The whole male hottie cover looks very "romancy" to me and I don't really like old school romance. The man-pect cover is more UF ish and more modern. So, I guess that answers that. I think I prefer no face or partial face cause I like to imagine my own fantasy male in the story. I actually kind of gloss over any detailed description of the hero and come up with my own. Sometimes I find out later my image is *nothing like what is described in the book. Like Kisten from Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series. I see him with long wavy dark brown hair. Found out later he has short blond hair! . I will stick with my Kisten ;)

  31. Good Morning,

    I have to admit I'm not a fan of cut off heads. I'd rather have the whole man. I think that it being cut off takes away from the facial expression the model portrays. At the same time, I've never been one to choose a book for cover art. I love blurbs first, art next. But I'd still take the full face vs the partial.

    Can't wait to get ahold of this one though :) Feb 2nd isn't that far off :)

  32. Hi, Denise! For these two, I actually prefer the trade--somehow the whole composition works better for me, and it doesn't hurt that the hero's gorgeous ;) I do often like just the body without the face, too, but it depends on the cover. I guess that's not too much of a clear answer! ;)

    Congrats on this new release--wooooo!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  33. This says it perfectly, Denise...To me, the trade cover is more a real painting, whereas the mass market has the punch of an advertisement.

    The original is gorgeous with its swirls of colors but there's alot of empty space and without it the Mass Market is more eyecatching.


  34. I really like both covers. The trade because of the background and I like seeing the whole man - you're right it looks like a painting. The mass market does have a bolder, brighter look though. Either cover would have me picking it up to read the back. (I actually have the trade version and always loved the cover)

    For me, as long as the cover matches the description of the characters, it's all good. Nothing bothers me more than when the cover is wrong.

  35. Hi mountie123! (and your Mom!)

    The human imagination is more powerful than any visual - though yes, an image does help. I agree, the model is gorgeous. *sigh* He's actually real and walking around somewhere - presumably with women fainting at his feet. Heh.

    The creatures your mother loves are the seelies, little blue furred marine critters who live under Caracole, the floating city built on the leaves of a gigantic sea plant. Erik has quite a few scenes with them in Thief of Light.

    With a sinking heart, I have to tell you the seelies don't have a role in The Lone Warrior (Book #3), let alone The Dark Rose (Book #4,)which is set on the planet of Green IV. Sorree... But your Mom's request has given me an idea - a short story freebie starring the seelies and Florien would be fun. I'll have to think about it some more...

  36. Hey there, Sharon!

    Whatever floats your boat. *g* Which I guess is one of the major draws with romance fiction. YOUR fantasy in YOUR head, with some assistance from the author.

    "man-pect cover" - that's brilliant! *snort* I love it!

  37. Hi Hales,

    Wow, so you read the blurbs straight off? Blessings on all your houses! I often think that's the best. There are so many gorgeous covers out there, but I find there's a certain sameness to them - flash of bare chest, chiseled profile, a sword, some tatts - and you're good to go. Leather pants optional. *grin*

    At least the back cover copy gives you some idea of the story, though I have to admit some are way off. (Not mine, I hasten to add!)

  38. Sorry Hales, meant to say thanks for your enthusiasm about the release of Thief of Light. I do hope you enjoy it!

  39. Hi flchen1,

    Good to see you over here! I guess it's a book-by-book proposition for you - and why not? It's all about personal preference.

    And thanks so much for the congrats. I'm really looking forward to 2nd Feb!

  40. Hi Stephanie,

    James Griffin is a great creative artist, his covers really are paintings. I have the cover of The Flame and the Shadow framed on the wall of my living room. The salamanders and the flames really 'pop'. Visitors always comment on it.

  41. Hey there, Devon! Great see you Down Under!

    Yeah, I get really irritated when the cover doesn't match the description of the character inside. I'll flip back and forth, muttering! I think I need to get out more. heh heh

  42. I love them both Denise. I love the swirls in the trade but I love the pink lettering in the mass market edition, as well as the skin colour popping more. I'd have either on my bookshelf - actually I already have the trade waiting to be read. As for face vs no face - very few times do I picture the characters as they are portrayed on the cover, because usually they don't go with the description. Only once did I stick with a hair colour in my head (dark blonde) when the description was actually black!

    Congrats on the mass market release Denise!!!

  43. Denise, the cover gods (or "god" in this case *VBG*) has been very good to you and your story indeed. Jim's cover art is just stunning and his attention to detail is wonderful! I love everything about the Trade paperback version. It's swoon-worthy....

  44. Gosh, it is so weird how the marketing folks have different covers. did they tell you why? I think i like the trade better. while i can like the mass market, and i totally understand about seeing your characters so much different in your head, i think a full person helps me with the story. i put the whole picture of the model in my mind and normally use him throughout the story. my fav cover model is Paul Marron. google him and have a towel handy for your drool :)!!!

  45. Aw, Eleni, thanks! Thanks for the comment and for buying my book and for this fabulous blog! {{{hugs}}}

  46. Oh Maree, you are so right! And the cover for The Lone Warrior is just as amazing, possibly even better IMO.

    If you're interested in how Jim does it, step-by-step, here's the interview he did on my blog. http://www.deniserossetti.com/blog/2008/10/24/secrets-of-a-cover-artist/ It's fascinating stuff.

  47. Hi there, practimom,

    Nope, no info from the marketing folks. I'm fascinated. As for Paul Marron - OMG, that guy is haaawt! He's done some really important covers too. of course, being me, I can't hep but wonder how many hours a day he spends on sculpting that beautiful body. It looks like hard work!

  48. Ooh, thanks for the link, Denise. Will definitely check it out!