An International Cover Story

A Cover Story begins  . . .

cover story -- UK cover of A Regency Invitation 2004

original UK cover 2004

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

ARI US Can 2005 sml

cover USA/Canada 2005

ARI Aus NZ 2005 sml

cover Australia NZ 2005

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

ARI Greece 2005 sml

cover Greece 2005

ARI Greece 2012 sml

cover Greece 2012

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!


ARI Japan 2007 sml

cover Japan 2007

ARI Italy 2010 sml

cover Italy 2010

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.


ARI Japan 2012 sml

cover Japan 2012

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.)

ARI Germany 2011 sml

cover Germany 2011

ARI France 2007 sml

cover France 2007


[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!

ARI Manga 2008 cover sml

Manga cover faithfully depicts heroine’s blue-violet eyes and blonde hair, plus there’s a stately home with a cupola!

ARI Manga 2008 page 4 sml

Manga detail — no words needed!

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”?

ARI Japan Manga 2009 smlARI Manga 2008 page 1 sml


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.

ARI Czech 2006 sml

Czech cover 2006

2 thoughts on “An International Cover Story

  1. Elizabeth Bailey

    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…

    1. Joanna Post author

      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.

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