Industry Trends: Romance Covers

Industry Trends: Romance Covers

by Jennifer Silverwood, August 16, 2018

Design trends are ever-shifting. Just ask our team here at QDM. We can’t tell you exactly how many books we have recovered, but it’s more than you might think. Recovering novels is a practice that has been in use for hundreds of years. Popular literature covers number in the dozens, while modern novels often get fresh covers to keep up with industry trends. If anything, the rise in social media and the digital revolution have only made it more difficult to keep up with current trends. While many authors “write to market,” it’s never a good idea to stick too closely to story trends. What’s hot today may not be so hot tomorrow. Twilight anyone? And while some story tropes or cover elements remain the same or a variation thereof, it pays to pay attention.

Today we’re going to do some of that research for you. Romance is one of the hottest, if not the hottest genre in the business. Not even twenty years ago, most of these books were covered by long-haired Fabio’s, and our mothers often buried their books out of sight from embarrassment. Today there’s a lot less shame in owning a steamy romance, thanks to e-reader devices (and book jackets!). There are many other options for romance novels today, but let’s take a look at the current top-selling contenders. You may be surprised at what we’ve found.

**The following releases come from either Amazon, Kobo, iBooks or Barnes & Noble’s top 10 to 50 lists, excluding box sets. Links to product pages included. Only Damaged Heart by S.M. Soto was covered by us**


A common and popular trend is focusing on the main couple. This immediately tells the reader to expect romance. Looking at the following bestsellers, which catches your eye first? Which would you pick up to read? Always remember to think like a reader. What covers and colors draw you most? Let’s not forget the different types of couple covers, there are couples on historical and paranormal romances too but that might be too much to get into right now. So, we’ll stick with the contemporaries for this issue.

The sexy and moody

These are the intense covers that tell readers outright that this is going to be a panty-dropping read (maybe).

The covered emotional and romantic

Note the fully clothed/covered couples on these covers.

The in-between

These are sexy but also happy. These are moody but also sweet. They look like they could be a mishmash of fun happily ever after and maybe not so happy endings.


The Hot Guy

Notice anything in particular about these best sellers? While we don’t have the Fabio’s of yesteryear, we are given men in suits, hinting at a wealthy male professional. Whereas in Love Machine, we’re given the usual shirtless showcase, with a leather-jacket (aka badboy) twist. Seems like readers are enjoying the hot CEO’s and leather-wearing bad boys right now.



We weren’t going to showcase the few shirtless we did see on the bestselling lists. But we did want to mention a few things about this trend. Notice how faces are slowing starting to show up on more and more covers rather than going full-on crop like the old days. We have exclusive photos with professional (and famous) models to thank for that! Check back the bestselling lists every few weeks, you’ll never stop seeing abs on those top 10 lists.

Sweet or Small-Town Romance

While erotica may seem like the way to go after 50 Shades, many romance readers prefer a balance between steamy romance, and cozy local settings focused around the family. These are often the books about second-chances, the single mother or widowed father. The design varies from the location you want to vacation, sometimes has just an object based cover and often focuses on the title.


Thanks so much for visiting Najla Qamber Designs. Stay tuned for future Industry Trends posts. Next month, we’ll focus in on the fantasy genre, and the trends varying between epic, to paranormal and urban sub-genres. Meanwhile, look out for our next Author Highlight!




    • Melissa Keir
      Reply Cancel Reply
    • August 16, 2018

    It is interesting in the trends of covers and how they seem to go with the trends in stories. We see a lot darker covers now that MC, Bad Boys and Rock Stars are popular. I love the way that all these stories were popular but so different on covers!

    • Isn't it? I love seeing the transition of trends as the years go by. And how many times an author needs to recover to catch up.

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