The Headless Torso

Also known as cover art.  Periodically, I see discussions in various places regarding cover art preferences.  The main points of discussion are usually drawn art vs. photography, people vs. no people, and faces vs. headless torsos.

Now, I have to say that I’m incredibly happy with my covers.  I’ve had three talented artists and I adore all of my covers.  To me, the people vs. none is a moot issue.  In my mind, a people-less cover generally indicates a non-romance book.  I’d be willing to be swayed otherwise, and I know there are many good covers for romance without people on it, but having started reading romance in the Fabio cover art era, I can’t quite shake the notion that people equal romance.

For my covers, I specifically request no faces or obscured faces.  I have very strong ideas in my head about what my characters look like (and no, none of them actually look like Fabio, despite my formative reading years).  If someone else showed up on the cover, I would find it very difficult to reconcile the image with my character and be happy with the cover.  Also, despite the many objections to the headless torso, with the two male chests on my covers, no one is going to be surprised by the story inside.

My fondness for no faces makes the drawn art vs. photography another non-issue for me.  I’d imagine most artists would *like* to include faces when they’re creating art, which means me and drawn art probably aren’t going to get along.  At least, not for covers.

I’m not a visually creative person, so my cover artists need to work from an almost blank slate, because I almost never have suggestions to get them started.  Of course, I think that also makes me easy to please.  In fact, Cop Out, my most recent release, was the only cover I kicked back (gently and politely, of course) because Kurt’s tattoo wasn’t quite right.  But all it took was sending a couple of examples of what I had in mind and it came back just right!

Now that you know what I like in covers, what do you like?  Is there a specific aspect that catches your eye?  Is there a cover feature that will make you pass on a book?

Anyway, if you want to take a look at my headless torsos, they’re at and I’ve included a little blurb below about Cop Out, my most recent headless torso release from Dreamspinner Press.

Detective Kurt O’Donnell is used to digging up other people’s secrets, but when he discovers his slain partner was married to another man, it shakes him. Determined to do the right thing, Kurt offers the mourning Davy his assistance. Helping Davy through his grief helps Kurt deal with the guilt that his partner didn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth, and somewhere along the way Davy stops being an obligation and becomes a friend, the closest friend Kurt has ever had.

His growing attraction to Davy complicates matters, leaving Kurt struggling to reevaluate his sexuality. Then a sensual encounter neither man is ready for confuses them further. To be with Davy, Kurt must face the prospect of coming out, but his job and his relationship with his Catholic family are on the line. Can he risk destroying his life for the uncertain possibility of a relationship with a newly widowed man?

KC Burns on The Headless Torso

10 thoughts on “KC Burns on The Headless Torso

  • November 30, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Thank you, Leah, for having me on your blog!

  • November 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

    In the hands of a good cover designer any concept can work. My personal peeve is computer generated art. Fortunately it’s fallen out of fashion, but just a few years ago many epublished book covers featured freaky, dead-eyed, CG people, in awkward poses.

    I am an artist and a designer, so any cover that looks like it’s somebody’s first Photoshop project, is an automatic pass. If the publisher can’t be bothered to hire a good cover designer, they probably skimped on editing and other aspects as well.

    Your cover are great, btw.

    • November 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

      Oh, yeah, I’ve seen a few stinkers where heads or other body parts have been poorly Photoshopped on. And I’m not a fan of those poseables either. I really do consider myself lucky that I’ve had such great cover artists to do my covers!
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • November 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I never really thought about the headless torsos but it makes sense. I totally agree about the necessity of having people on romance covers.
    Cop Out sounds like another winner! Congratulations.

    • November 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks Wynter! Yeah, I really think the headless torsos let me properly imagine the characters as I want to. I mean, what if I don’t think the guy on the cover is good looking? The character will be forever tainted!

  • December 1, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Wonderful cover, KC. Timely discussion as I spent about two hours looking at cover models yesterday for, er, research for my book cover. Mine will be headless as well, but I’m glad the research bodies had heads! Jed Hill, even headless, now those abs look good on a cover, even the DH stared at his picture. That said, my very favorite cover to date is Katie MacAlister’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s not just the guy’s body but the beautiful art, color of the layout and his eyes, the intensity. Does anyone know who that model is?

    • December 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

      LOL – I have nothing to do with picking my cover models, and I’ve done *plenty* of research into the topic 😉 And Jed Hill is quite lovely.

  • December 5, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I’m definitely on point with you, KC. I prefer the headless torsos. Without the eyes, I think the model is not only viewed as more mysterious, but more importantly unspecific. The eyes of a person really define the whole face and make him “that guy” as opposed to “a guy.” If I’m able to see the entire model, his face is the one I see when I’m reading, and I may not find the whole package as attractive for my tastes. But if I only get “from the nose down,” I get to imagine his eyes as I want them and he becomes “my guy.” 🙂

  • December 6, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Yes, Gina, I agree 100%! I really need to be able to create “my guy” in my mind, rather than having him being imposed on me! I must admit, I never thought it might be the eyes that are the key, but yeah, I bet that’s it.

    • December 6, 2011 at 8:25 am

      Hi KC! I know, as silly as it sounds, it really is the eyes. It’s crazy to think that a set of eyes can change the entire face, but they do. I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time pondering why I like my hunks “headless” (you know, for when I get published someday and they ask me for ideas on cover art 😉 and I found that when I wasn’t particularly attracted to a full-headed guy, if I covered up his eyes the rest of him was mysteriously hot. Apparently I’m very particular about my man’s eyes. LOL

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