Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Erotica Cover Watch 1 : Naysayers 0

with 24 comments

We’re back! It’s beautiful! And we’re boasting! Find out why by scrolling down this man:


Remember when we started Erotica Cover Watch? We wanted to highlight how unfair it was that sexy books always featured sexy women on the covers and *never* sexy men. It was a crazy time on the blog with people zooming in from far and wide to join the debate. We got a lot of enthusiastic support (thank you!) and a lot of flak (yeah, sod off!). One of the frequent criticisms we heard was that you couldn’t put a guy on a cover because the world would end. OK, I’m paraphrasing a tad. What some of our critics said was that our efforts were pointless since publishers’ attitudes were never going to change. Were a publisher ‘to go radically against the grain,’ we were told, ‘they would just be committing commercial suicide’.

Back in September, we didn’t know if anyone with influence would take any notice of what we were saying. Of course, we hoped they would. I wrote: If one publishing co, having heard what we are saying, opts to put a bloke on the cover instead of a woman […] and they actually give consideration to women as consumers, I’d consider that a victory.

And so we have it! Our amazing victory! Yippee!

When we first stumbled across Sex and Satisfaction 2 on one of our regular patrols, we were so happy we did a little dance (the BICEPS boogie). But it wasn’t until we got in touch with Xcite’s editor, Miranda Forbes, that we realised the decision to put a guy on the cover was a result of our campaigning! Yes, lil ol’ us! We did it! And you lot – the people who’ve supported us by commenting, lurking, emailing, drooling, spreading the word or joining our Man Candy Mondays – you are all part of our success and you too must do the BICEPS boogie!

After we’d caught our breath, we put a few questions to Miranda about Xcite and the sexy, wet man in a low-slung towel and this is what she said:

Practically all erotica covers feature a sexy woman. What inspired you to put a hot guy on the cover of Sex and Satisfaction 2?

Well, I must confess that it’s a direct result of reading the Erotica Cover Watch blog! We do tend to go for female covers but you made us think again and hence the sexy hunk this time.

We’re thrilled! Thank you. What’s the response been like so far?

So far we have only got the reaction of the trade buyers but orders are good so it is looking promising.

On ECW, we’ve heard people argue publishers can’t put hot guys on erotica covers because people will assume the book’s aimed at gay men. Has this been a concern of yours?

Yes, I did get that feedback from one of the buyers who felt it looked like a book aimed at gay men. We will have to see what our readers feel. I do understand that many women prefer a man on the cover. We are quite unusual because we accept male writers writing using male names – since most of our readers enjoy heterosexual stories it seemed a shame to exclude men from writing them!

We’ve also been told booksellers would refuse to stock such books on the grounds the reading public don’t like men on their smut. Have any of your usual stockists turned the book down?

No, all our usual outlets have placed orders for this title so it will be available in the UK from Waterstones, Borders, WH Smith, LoveHoney, Ann Summers and Amazon UK (also Amazon US).

The first Sex and Satisfaction is Xcite’s bestselling title to date. Are you optimistic about the success of Sex and Satisfaction 2? Do you feel you’re taking a financial risk in putting a guy on a potential top-selling title?

Yes, Sex and Satisfaction is our bestselling title to date which goes to show our readers want sex AND satisfaction! It was a risk but we felt it was a good book to try the new cover format as we expected it to do well and it would get good exposure.

Can readers look forward to more Xcite books with sexy guys on the cover?

I really hope so. We will monitor the reaction and will use more men if we get a good response. We are also using couples more and Ultimate Curves features a lovely curvy girl since all the stories celebrate sexy larger ladies.

How did you choose the image? Did someone have to trawl through hundreds of photos of semi-naked men? If so, can we have their job please?

Sorry, not giving up that perk of my job – I also get to read sexy stories every day, it’s tough but someone has to do it! The hardest part is thinking up new titles so suggestions are welcome. Please email them to – there’ll be a free goodie box for any we use.

* * *

Sex and Satisfaction 2 has just been released and we’ve got a fabulous 25% discount for readers of Erotica Cover Watch. The anthology features stories from top smutters including Donna George Storey, Scarlet mag regular, Carmel Lockyer (aka Kay Sexton), Sommer Marsden, Dakota Rebel and soon-to-be Xcite novelist, Jeremy Edwards, whose story, Moistened by Mercer, can be downloaded for free right here!

If you support our campaign and would like to see more hot guys on erotica book covers we urge you to put your money where the muscle is and buy this book! To claim your 25% discount via Xcite’s store, simply add the code ECW25 to your order and £7.99 magically becomes £5.99! It’s easy-peasy. I know because I just tried it – and now (despatch within two hours!) I’m looking forward to owning my very first erotic fiction anthology with a guy on the cover. Jeesh, feels like we’re making history here!

* * *

Boy FUN _x

Since we did this interview with Miranda, Xcite have released their second erotica cover featuring a super-sexy guy. Boy Fun is, as you may have guessed, m/m, so straight guys aren’t really part of its target audience, meaning this cover doesn’t challenge erotica’s sexist norms in quite the way Sex and Satisfaction 2 does. However, it is totally fucking hot so we think you need to see it! Plus, it’s great that an erotica imprint whose books are aimed primarily at women are embracing m/m. Erotic romance cottoned on to m/m’s hotness a long time ago. Hurrah, erotica is catching up!

Boy Fun is set for release in March 2010 and Xcite are still open to submissions of guy-on-guy action. Check out their guidelines here along with Xcite’s other current calls for subs.

And remember, Xcite are looking for title suggestions so drop them a line if you want to be in with a chance of winning a goodie box.

If you want Sex and Satisfaction 2 to be the first of many books featuring hot guys on the cover, please let the publishers know by buying yourself a copy. The code ECW25 will get you 25% off the cover price at Xcite. Then read it on the train, on the bus, on the tube; tell all your friends; link to this blog, and help us spread the word: women find men sexy! More please!

Kristina x


Written by Kristina Lloyd

July 2, 2009 at 7:11 am

24 Responses

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  1. Bravo to ECW, and Bravo to Miranda.

    Every journey begins with a single, bold step. And here you have two powerful steps in the right direction.


    Craig Sorensen

    July 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

  2. Thanks Craig!


    July 2, 2009 at 9:36 am

  3. How very cool! Congratulations!


    July 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm

  4. Beautiful! I’m doing the Biceps Boogie…bump, bump.

    Madeline Moore

    July 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

  5. Thanks Erobintica, thanks Madeline!

    Xcite seem a really responsive publisher who are genuinely interested in hearing readers’ opinions. I’m so glad they tuned into this site to hear us lot! I hope sales are high for this title and that it becomes the first of many.

    Bump, bump …


    July 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm

  6. This is a wonderful moment for all of us who would like to see more balance and variety in hetero erotica covers, an equality in whose tastes are being acknowledged. (And I’m not just saying that because I’m the sample story, heheh.) And taking a risk with the goal of shaping a better marketplace is a wonderful, courageous action on the part of an independent. (And I’m not just saying it because this company is publishing my novel, haha.) Brava!

    I should mention that in saying the above, I intend no offense to those small companies who have been sympathetic to the vital concerns raised at ECW but who have been reluctant to go against perceived market realities. I can understand why not every company feels itself in a position to assume the financial risk inherent in taking on the whole problem of whether consumers + store buyers + products are currently stuck in a flawed, culturally outdated cycle of expectations and purchasing habits–the risk of being the one who tries to initiate change.

    But I’m hoping that S&S2 will succeed gloriously (and I’m not just saying that because etc. etc.), and that book-cover pluralism won’t be risky anymore. The positive response in terms of buyer orders is great news!

    Jeremy Edwards

    July 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  7. P.S. Thanks for the great shout-out, KL! : )

    Jeremy Edwards

    July 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

  8. Woohoo! I’d quite happily look at that all day! :))

    Lucy Felthouse

    July 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

  9. Hooray! This is such wonderful news – and what a fantastic cover! I’m impressed – much kudos to Xcite and Miranda Forbes.

    I think I am going to have to buy both those books now. Yum.

  10. Talk about a revolution! Great work ECW and Miranda and special thanks to the cover boy for all those hours in the gym ;-). Thanks too for the mention–I’m in fine company between those covers.

    Donna George Storey

    July 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm

  11. I am, of course, so, so happy about this. It’s brilliant that Xcite have done this and even more brilliant that they did it because of our blog. It is far more, far sooner than I ever would have expected. And, yes, I will be buying both these books!


    July 2, 2009 at 6:12 pm

  12. I really like that they’re doing it and that erotic cover watch is having an impact – ROCK ON!

    I’d be interested to know how they sourced their images. I’m pretty sure just by looking at them (particularly the second one) that the photographers had designed them for the gay market, so it feels like a missed opportunity to me. Finding or creating images genuinely for women is hard, but it can be done and I’ve done it on a budget of nothing so I reckon erotic fiction publishers with proper budgets can do it too.

    The images are in colour, which is great. I think it is really important to include faces, but that’s just what my research shows… the proof will be in the pudding! Rock on them for giving it a good shot.


    July 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm

  13. Oh well done! How awesome are you guys?! And it’s a very nice cover indeed with hint o’ wet.

    boogy boogy!

    Janine Ashbless

    July 3, 2009 at 7:01 am

  14. Congratulations and thank you to all involved! It is indeed so lovely to hear about a publisher being responsive to industry concerns raised by those working in it. Thank you Miranda! And congratulations (and thank you too) Erotica Cover Watch!

    “And taking a risk with the goal of shaping a better marketplace is a wonderful, courageous action on the part of an independent.”

    I quote Jeremy here because I think he stated it so nicely and fully agree. Such an act in and of itself makes me want to buy the book just to support it. 🙂 (Not that there’s not plenty of incentive anyway with the mentioned list of writers!)

    Thanks again Miranda and ECW!


    July 3, 2009 at 8:25 am

  15. Oh, this is a joy to see. Many congrats, Miranda Forbes & Xcite and ECW.

    I love the ‘Shall I push the towel down a little more?’ gesture.


    July 3, 2009 at 8:41 am

  16. We have MAN. Yeeeeeeeeeeeehar! And as more publishers turn around and realise heterosexual women fancy men, they can come and benefit from the extensive picture-research here and on Lustbites-wot-woz. They got one thing right straight off the bat: he’s WET. You really, really can’t go wrong with a wet man.

    POP! goes the champagne!

    Olivia Knight

    July 3, 2009 at 10:03 am

  17. Congratulations, brilliant news!

    Catherine Redfern

    July 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

  18. what a beautiful cover. it’s lovely to see a man’s body on a cover. and no head..i notice we aren’t complaining about a headless man.


    July 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm

  19. Oh wow! This is fabulous news. Congrats to everyone involved…



    July 5, 2009 at 3:06 am

  20. […] there we were on Thursday, merrily celebrating Xcite putting a guy on a book cover thanks to us, and then BAM! On Friday, […]

  21. Maybe next time he’ll have a head.

    Baby steps, I suppose, baby steps . . .



    July 10, 2009 at 2:33 am

  22. Congratulations! I’m just catching up on the reading, but this is great news! I’m stunned to see a man on the cover of a book aimed at women, but it just goes to show what you can do if you persist. Great job guys!

    Helen E. H. Madden

    July 13, 2009 at 10:53 am

  23. […] the growth in support has been astronomical. We’ve caused a leading UK erotica publisher to rethink its covers; have had articles published in one of the UK’s top newspapers; and have been one of the […]

  24. […] 1. Xcite Books, the UK’s leading publisher of erotic fiction, have started to feature guys on their covers, thanks to us and you. […]

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