A Cover Story begins . . .
Once upon a time, three writers of Mills & Boon Historicals got together to write a book. The three were Nicola Cornick, Joanna Maitland (me!), and Elizabeth Rolls. This is the cover story of that book of three interlinked novellas —
A Regency Invitation.
This blog is not about how the book was written, though we had great fun doing it, creating three love affairs and two mysteries at our Regency house party. No, this post is about the book’s cover — where it started, how it changed over time, and how different international markets adapted the cover look of A Regency Invitation to suit their readers.
Want to know how the Japanese market presents a romance set in Regency England? You can see it further down. And it may surprise you.
The Original Cover Story — in English
The early English-language editions used the same approach as the UK cover shown above. The design brief was clearly to focus on the house party and the guests at the stately home where the mysterious happenings were taking place.
The stately home the stories were actually (very loosely) based on was Ashdown, which Nicola recently blogged about, here on Libertà.
The Cover Story in Translation
When the book began to appear in translation in other markets around the world, the covers changed to suit. On the left is the rather elegant Greek cover from 2005 — a more muted stately home which doesn’t look very Regency to me. Readers must have liked the story, since it was republished in 2012, with the same “stately home”, but a different pair of lovers. Fine, as there were 3 pairs of ’em!
The first Japanese cover (in 2007) used the stately home + guests approach. And the cover models were typically Regency.
The Italian cover (a bit later, in 2010) did something similar. I really liked the Italian cover, and the Italian idea of a stately home, even if it was lacking the vital cupola on the roof.
When the book was reprinted in Japan 5 years later, the cover had a very special look which oozes “romance”, I’d say. Still shows a stately home, though. With cupola!
Other markets dropped the stately home altogether and zoomed in on the lovers, as in the German cover (below left: 2011) and the French cover (below right: 2007). Some markets (not shown) had pretty generic covers, with lovers who could have been anywhere.
Would any of these covers have prompted you to buy the book, I wonder? What does a cover need to say to potential readers? (Sophie will be blogging about self-publishers commissioning a cover design next week.)
[And, by the way, the German cover on the left featured a couple already used in another book of mine, so I was just a little bemused to see them again!]
Then there was Manga!
Above is the wonderful Japanese Manga version of my novella (the middle one of the three that made up A Regency Invitation). It was originally published in an anthology with various other stories and it sold tens of thousands of copies. Sounds like it was wildly popular, doesn’t it? Dunno about that. Japan is a huge market. How many thousands do you need to sell to rank as “wildly popular”?
But it must have impressed the readers, because the publisher reprinted the three novellas in stand-alone versions the following year.
This one is mine — An Uncommon Abigail.
And just for fun, a slightly different cover story . . .
In Czech, female surnames end in -ovà. Even if they’re foreign names. On my first visit to Prague, many years ago, I was struck by the modified author-name on the cover of a children’s book that was displayed in huge piles in bookshop windows, a worldwide bestseller by a newly-famous female author based in Scotland. [Hint: Hogwarts]
So, if it could happen to her, it would certainly happen to the three female authors of A Regency Invitation. We were ovà’d in the cover design without having any say in the matter.
Maitlandovà sounds fairly boring, I’d say.
Cornickovà sounds like a tennis player or maybe an exotic flower.
But Elizabeth Rollsovà? And J K Rowlingovà?
Yup, still cracks me up, every time. I don’t have a Harry Potter Czech cover to show you, but here’s the Czech cover of A Regency Invitation so you, too, can have a chuckle.
What a fascinating collection of covers. On the whole, they are charming, I think. Love the mangas but will not comment on the hilarious ovas, except to say I’ve been ova’d in my time too! It’s most odd. I think my favourite is the Japan 2007 one, which is so admirably traditional. Super post. E Baileyova…
Thanks so much, Ms Baileyova. Glad you like them. I think my favourite has to be the manga because of those huge doe eyes. And of all the covers, I think the manga may be the most accurate in depicting my characters and setting.