I freely admit that I check a book cover first before buying a book. I look at the blurb and consider if the book sounds interesting. Excerpts and reviews fall far behind the first two things I do before purchasing a book.
Ugly/weird faces/people on covers would probably not entice me to check further and not even read the blurb.
A "pretty face" can apply to both heroes and heroines. Images have to be enticing, likeable. And sometimes, there are no faces. Perhaps it's a cover of a place or thing. Or, it's a faceless torso with rippling muscles. Or bodies intertwined in sensual positions.
Not all those mentioned above will catch my attention. I want a "hero/heroine" visual; something to take residence in my head as I read the blurb. I'm more likely to buy books with "bodies/body parts" on the covers as opposed to places or things.
I made a mistake with one of my book covers in NOT asking for people on the cover...and it's my favorite book! Street of Dreams should have shown the hero and heroine. Instead, I asked for a "street" scene...and I think killed my sales. It received a "4" from Romantic Times, but has had the fewest sales of all my books.
And, it's the only one without people/body parts on the cover.
To the other extreme: one book cover goes beyond what I'd wanted and shows too much "body". This can be a "turn-off" for some readers...it is for me. Although not happy with the cover, Sexy Games sold better that the one shown above with no people on it.
I'm happy with my other covers...all have people on them and perhaps you can't see faces, but you see "body parts".
What do you look for in a cover as a reader? What do you ask for as an author?
Marianne Stephens/April Ash
Photos: Flickr: !borghetti, Skate-in, Corruptkitten, and Lord Khan's photostreams.