August 30, 2015 by Mod
Some of my clients write erotica. Some write romance with erotic elements. Some write steamy romance. Whatever you call it, it serves the author to have a cover that reflects the content. Readers often complain about a book wherein the cover doesn’t reflect the genre or heat level within.
When you’re writing something very steamy, therefore, you might be tempted to got all out in terms of the heat of the cover. Unfortunately when you do this, you run the risk of ending up in “The Amazon Dungeon”.
The Amazon Dungeon is a term authors use to describe having a book banned from Amazon, or rejected from being uploaded, or relegated to the “adults only” areas of the site. None of these are ideal situations for an author who wants to sell books.
So occasionally I help an author with a cover that, for whatever reason, has gotten them thrown in the Amazon Dungeon. Before I show you how I can help, I’d like to review what we know about book cover guidelines as pertains to Amazon. Sadly Amazon doesn’t publish their guidelines, so what we know about them has come from trial and error:
No BDSM toys in actual use. Handcuffs may be shown but not worn. Blindfolds usually pass, but use caution with those too.
- No butts. No side butts, back butts and CERTAINLY no frontal nudity.
- No lady boobs. This really means no part of the boobs – no side boob, no under boob, no nipples. A bit of cleavage is fine. Man boobs are fine.
- No “hand bras”. She can’t cover her boobs with her hands. He can’t cover her boobs with his hands. She can’t cover her girlfriend’s boobs. HANDS OFF THE BOOBS.
- As for that, faces off the boobs too. He or she can’t lie on boobs.
- Hands need to stay out of the crotch too.
- No implied penetration – she can’t straddle him, wrap her legs around him, or bend over in front of him – even if they are completely dressed, to be safe. He can’t lie in between her legs, even under the covers or fully dressed.
- No other “suggestive positions” – her or him kneeling in front of him, him or her with his face in her crotch area etc.
- No O faces. Best for the image to look pre-sex longing or post-sex satiation. No during-sex passion.
While this list seems very restrictive, there are some tricks to helping ensure that a cover will pass. Here are some examples with covers I’ve done.
One thing I often do is conceal any nudity as much as possible.
With the cover for Marcus’s Vampire, for example, I added wings to help to hide the fact that she’s topless, as well as a bit of shadow at the bottom to hide the fact that she’s straddling him. So far this cover has passed.
Another thing I often have need of is a little clothing.
Here’s a cover for Random Chances without the little camisole and one with:
I don’t think the one without the cami would pass.
Occasionally I add a little something just to be safe. Here’s a cover with and without a little pantie.
This one would have failed without the pantie.
Sometimes a bit more is required, and in these instances a banner or other layered item can help. Recently Bree Dahlia came to me with a cover that Amazon had rejected. I worked a little modesty magic on it and lo and behold it’s been approved. Here’s the before and after:
You can see a little lace goes along way.
Amazon can be very frustrating sometimes. It almost seems like they are looking for reasons to be difficult. But as the indie industry grows we are coming to understand them more and more. Hopefully before too long the whole Amazon process will be a lot less painful.
Until then, there’s always wine.