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Gabrielle Prendergast: Illustrated Romance Covers
Thursday, September 10th, 2020

I’ve noticed a change over the past couple of years in romance publishing (including YA romance) with regards to the way contemporary romance is being branded. Where previously illustrated covers were mostly reserved for rather chaste “chick-lit”—a usually slightly more “literary” twist on romance novels aimed at young professional women—now illustrated covers are popping up on the covers of mainstream contemporary romance, even that which leans decidedly into the hot and explicit category.

Take FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey with its very cute and rather innocent looking cover. I read a review that claimed it had “some of the most explicit sex I have ever read on the page”. Of course this made me buy it and heck, that reviewer is not wrong! GET A LIFE CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert is another quite sexy book with this this new kind of fun illustrated cover.

So for contemporary romance, and even some historical romance (see the gorgeous cover of A ROGUE OF ONE’S OWN by Evie Dunmore), illustrated covers are the latest big trend. It doesn’t look like this will change soon. What does this mean for indie authors? Suddenly the affordable old standard stock photographic covers are competing with this fresh new look. If an author is writing indie contemporary, historical or YA romance what are their options if they want to get in on this trend?


The original illustrations used on covers like FIX HER UP cost anywhere from $500 and up. They’re just not economical for many indie authors.

This is where stock illustrations come in. Stock illustrations can be mixed and manipulated to make the covers unique and evocative of your story while still fitting current trends.  A recent cover from Cover Your Dreams, HOW TO LASSO A BILLIONAIRE, by Katharine Sadler is one example.  The price of this cover was Under $150.

If you’d like to know more about illustrated covers from Cover Your Dreams please get in touch by emailing  or visit

One comment to “Gabrielle Prendergast: Illustrated Romance Covers”

  1. ButtonsMom2003
    · September 11th, 2020 at 12:45 am · Link

    I have mixed feelings about the trend toward illustrated covers. I really don’t think they do as good a job at conveying what a book is about. But at the same time I do like the look of many of them.

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