Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Archive for September 2009

Man Candy Monday

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Gilles Marini_FredGoudon

It’s Monday morning and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in bed. Would he wake up if I edged the sheets down a fraction?

Kristina x


Written by Kristina Lloyd

September 28, 2009 at 8:03 am

Posted in Man Candy Monday

Man Candy Monday

with 5 comments

Ryan Kwanten  low towel-thumb

It’s getting colder out there, isn’t it? Does this help? It’s Ryan Kwanten – aka Jason Stackhouse from True Blood. The season finale was only last week and I miss him already!


Written by mat

September 21, 2009 at 10:17 am

Posted in Man Candy Monday

Erotica Cover Watch: Temptations, ed. Miranda Forbes

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Erotica Cover Watch: Temptations, ed. Miranda Forbes, pub. Xcite Books


Dear All,

Having a lovely wank holiday. These men are The weather is seriously fucking hot. Been doing lots of sightseeing. Violet Blue Someone said our argument hotel was very 1970s but we think maybe her sunshades are too strong because as you can see, it’s excitingly fresh and modern around here. We’re loving all the cock …
tails. Luckily for us, they are called names like ‘Three’, ‘Two’ and ‘One’ so we don’t have to struggle with the usual stuff like ‘Screaming Multiple Outrage’ and ‘God Bollocks It’s Another Naked Babe on a Book for Women’!

Our biggest problem is deciding which one we like best! We’ve done lots of taste tests and I think ‘Three’ is my favourite. It reminds me of the many Cowboy Cocktails I’ve sampled. Last night when I asked Mat for her favourite, she couldn’t actually speak! I think she’d had a bit too much!!!

Hope you are all well and aren’t missing us too much!

Lots of love,

Kristina and Mat xxx


The Temptations series will be launched in November in the UK, each book costing only £2.99. Xcite say ‘The cover designs break with tradition but reflect a recent Xcite customers poll which revealed that 43% wanted to see a male on the cover, 30% a female and 27% a couple. The Temptations series deliver four mixed-theme erotic stories primarily aimed at female readers which feature a semi-naked man on each cover.’

And why did Xcite initially question the predominance of female models on erotica covers? Because they read our blog and they listened, giving Erotica Cover Watch its first glorious victory earlier in the year! It’s wonderful to see Xcite are continuing to feature hot guys on their covers. I truly love these images! And wonderful, too, to have a publisher who takes note and responds so positively instead of, ah, you know … not.

Written by Kristina Lloyd

September 17, 2009 at 6:48 am

Man Candy Monday

with 5 comments

W00t. The second edition of Filament – the one we fought so hard to get printed with a picture of some, uh, hard candy is here. And it has an article all about Erotica Cover Watch. So that’s two good reasons to go buy.







And here’s one very good reason to drop by this blog every Monday.


See you on Thursday for more news from the fight for erotica cover equality!

Written by mat

September 14, 2009 at 11:52 am

Posted in Man Candy Monday

Man Candy Tuesday

with 12 comments

Whilst Kristina was recovering from Thursday’s arse fest, I unexpectedly took yesterday off. I’d like to claim I fancied taking Labor Day as a holiday – but I’m in the UK – so it’s down to plain old forgetfulness. Too much Man Candy, it seems, rots the mind. A price I am more than willing to pay.

But, my lateness, has turned out to be fateful, because it means I can bring you this news just in:

Our last post touched a nerve. In the last year we’ve criticised publishers and editors of erotica. We know we’ve hurt feelings, but, for the most part, we’ve found the people we have engaged with on this problem have mostly been interested in what we’ve had to say and responded positively one way or another. Some have changed their view of erotica covers, some have re-thought policy, some have laughed at us.

But now we have our first blacklisting from an editor.

We always knew this was a danger in what we were doing. Erotica publishing is a small world. We have tried not to get personal and have always hoped that the blatant and obvious nature of what we were saying (because, well, it IS sexist that the covers of erotic books for straight people only ever feature women) would protect us like a magical cloak of righteousness.

A sad day. And honestly – after a year of useful and progressive dialogue – a surprising one.

Written by mat

September 8, 2009 at 8:41 am

Erotica Cover Watch: Best of Best Women’s Erotica, ed. Violet Blue

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Erotica Cover Watch: Best of Best Women’s Erotica 2, ed. Violet Blue, pub. Cleis Press

Watched by Kristina Lloyd

Erotica Cover Watch is officially en vacances but clearly I’m a workaholic heading for a heart attack because there we were, Mat and I, sipping pina coladas by the pool, when I was struck by an overwhelming urge to call the office and yell, ‘What is it with all the women’s arses? Seriously, what the fucking fuck is wrong with you? Can’t you do anything right? I left a memo saying: HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN FIND MEN ATTRACTIVE. And what do you give those bitches to look at? More women’s butts! You’re FIRED!’

Best Women’s Erotica is, to quote the publishers ‘a legendary and groundbreaking yearly series, and is the best-selling women’s erotica collection, period. Every year BWE raises the bar for explicit erotica written by and for women.’

OK, now remember that part, ‘by and FOR women.’

Here’s more from the call for submissions: ‘The desired orientation within the main sexual element of the stories is primarily heterosexual.’

You got that? It’s het. So here we have an anthology aimed at women; its stories are primarily heterosexual, meaning its main target audience must be primarily het women too. In case you missed the memo: straight women fancy men. Seriously, they do! So what are you going to put on the cover of this book? An elephant, yes, that’s right! Or … or a car. What about a large pile of phone directories? Excellent! You’re hired. The important thing is, if you want to market erotica to women, choose an image which completely bypasses their desire; try to forget the fact they even have desire. Here’s two we made earlier:

These images are both for BWE 2010. The first image was a result of a regular marketing meeting; on the agenda: ‘another book of het erotica from Cleis. Cover suggestions?’ And everyone shrugged and said, ‘Woman’s arse, the usual.’ A few weeks later, management thought a BWE cover ought to be a bit different so they put a naked women in some trendy shoes on a chair and told her to look at the camera. This is a clever trick to fool people into thinking this represents an empowered woman expressing her sexuality. Cos she’s not just being looked at, she is looking right back. Cool! Equality! Also, add some hip consumer desirables to the pic of the chick and people can’t help thinking it’s a little bit more feminist cos, look, she has agency! She’s been shopping!

Cleis Press have been featured on ECW several times. We’ve written to Cleis’s editors. No reply. Nothing much has changed – although, hang on, the recently released The Mile High Club does include a guy so may be somebody is paying attention. It’s a little too early to tell.

I have a story in the forthcoming BWE 2010 which was then selected from the last five+ years of the series to be included in Best of Best. This was the first time I’d ever subbed a story to Violet Blue so I was thrilled with the double hit. And not so thrilled when I saw the covers. If you’re an author you may know how horrible it feels when work you’re proud of gets packaged in a cover which insults your writing.

Here’s two more of the latest images from Cleis Press, Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Gay Erotica.

Doesn’t that break your heart? Or make you hopping mad? Or both? Those are two gorgeous covers accurately representing the content and the sexualities of the books’ target readers. They feature couples expressing desire, affection, sexiness, lust, love. Kissing! There is some very beautiful kissing going on!

I want kissing too! Why, oh why, can’t BWE incorporate images of men to feature heterosexual couples on their covers? Just picture that image on Best Gay Erotica with a woman below the guy with the extraordinarily lovely arm. Sexy, no? But instead, Cleis Press are selling us yet another book in which a lone woman is objectified on the cover. Does that look like female heterosexual desire to you? No, me neither. Small wonder that last year’s Best Women’s Erotica is usually riding high in Amazon’s Gay and Lesbian charts. It is confusing.

It’s particularly baffling when these covers are coming from a progressive, liberal publishing house which prides itself on championing marginalised groups. It looks as if straight female sexuality is just a tad too radical for Cleis whose het erotica covers are peddling the same old sexist shit, perpetuating the notion that straight female desire is insignificant; that straight women are happy to identify with images of women and to be the ones who are looked at, never the ones who are looking and actively desiring.

ECWstatsAug09_xCleis Press describe the BWE series as ‘groundbreaking’. The content may well be but the claim is starting to look increasingly dubious and dated when the ideology underpinning Cleis’s marketing to women comes straight from mainstream culture’s sexism.

Since we started this campaign, 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 driving forces behind Filament magazine’s successful bid to print erections for the female consumer. (We also have an exciting top sekrit project in the erotica publishing pipeline – sshh!). Meanwhile, across the pond, Cleis Press are simply looking the other way, acting as if we are not here, as if our voices – ours and yours – don’t count.

But we are here and our voices matter. And we are staying and we are fighting for change.

Pass the pina colada, Mat. Same book, same time next year?

Written by Kristina Lloyd

September 3, 2009 at 8:12 am